By Dr. Mercola
If your child were diagnosed with a very serious, very rare form of brain cancer, what would you do?
Where would you turn?
This is the situation that Rick Schiff, a police sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department, and his family were faced with back in 1994.
His 4 year old daughter, an identical twin, had a brain tumor growing in the left ventricle of her brain which was causing sudden neurological side effects.
The prognosis of this particular tumor was that it would spread rapidly and kill her within weeks.
So they did what most people would consider the logical next step – they consulted with an oncologist and proceeded with the recommended treatment, which, as is often the case, included a toxic combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, not so much as a cure but rather to extend her life for as long as possible.
In the video interview above, Rick explains the rest of his heart-breaking story, which unfortunately has a tragic ending, and what might have been prevented if natural cancer treatments were more widely available and recognized in the United States.
First, Conventional Cancer Treatment Poisons Child
Like most well-meaning parents, Rick and his wife decided to follow through with the oncologists' recommended treatment protocol. First came surgery, which had an initial positive outcome but because of the severity of the cancer, its spread was imminent. As Rick said:
" … literally in a matter of weeks we would be right back to where we were. In the end, [doctors] convinced us that what we would do is an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously … We progressed through their treatment. She started the treatment on her fourth birthday. After six months, we had finished all the chemo and radiation that you could possibly have given her."
She ended up living longer than the few weeks first expected, but the cancer came back within six months. Rick continued:
"Her hair was burnt so badly that it never grew back. She literally, for want of a better description, looked like Golum in The Hobbit. She was a fried wretched little child, emaciated, unable to process nutrients, had shingles, had suffered immeasurably. We had rubber gloves to change her diaper because her urine was so toxic from the chemotherapy. The problem is I get six months through this and then I stop and I said, "Okay, what do we do now?" They said, "She dies.""
It was at that point that Rick realized he had made "a terrible mistake."
"I was now exactly where I was six months ago, my daughter was suffering. She had now suffered immeasurably at the hands of not only the doctors but myself and for what?" he said.
Then, Rick came across another option he hadn't been aware of before. In a book given to him by friends months earlier, a chapter about Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who employs novel gene-targeted therapies in the treatment of cancer, picqued his interest. He spoke to Dr. Burzynski directly, and then to several of his patients.
"Oddly enough, each of them said Dr. Burzynski was great. The treatment is working fantastically. This is in stark contrast to what our own oncologist had told us. They all told us not to go but we went anyway."
Cancer Disappears Using Dr. Burzynski's "Forbidden" Treatment
Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski is known for developing a gene-specific treatment using a combination of cancer-fighting peptides he developed called antineoplastons to target specific cancers, conventional cancer drugs, and natural complementary strategies, including customized diets and exercise.
I interviewed Dr. Burzynski about his cancer treatment and also reviewed his recently released documentary, Burzynski, The Movie. It's an absolute jaw-dropper, as not only did the U.S. federal government spend 14 years actively suppressing a cancer treatment that had a FAR greater success rate than any other treatment available, they also spent well over $60 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars trying to put Dr. Burzynski in jail in order to steal his patents and either suppress or cash in on his discovery.
The treatment has surpassed all other conventional cancer treatments on the market, but you can't just walk in and receive it. Due to regulatory red tape, you're only "allowed" to see Dr. Burzynski if you've already had chemotherapy and radiation and failed to recover. Even then it is often a struggle
In a similar case involving Thomas, the son of Jim Navarro, who was also diagnosed with a form of brain cancer (and ended up dying from respiratory failure due to chronic toxicity of chemotherapy), it took 18 months of legal wrangling with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get Thomas approved for treatment by Dr. Burzynski. By then he had already received his second brain surgery, had already been forced to undergo chemotherapy, and had already suffered recurring tumors—likely induced by the chemotherapy itself. After all that, he finally fulfilled all the requirements to be allowed to try Dr. Burzynski's treatment, which resulted in a 33 percent reduction in tumors. As Navarro said:
"A father's hope is, had he not been polluted and poisoned with chemotherapy, had we not been stopped, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would be alive today."
Unfortunately, the case involving Rick's daughter, Chrissie, had a similar outcome.
Chrissie Died, Cancer-Free, From the Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation
Like Jim's son, Chrissie showed remarkable improvement following Dr. Burzynski's treatment:
"Within a number of months, the enhancement in the actual tumor had dissipated … My daughter got better and better and better … The tumor slowly drifted away. As it drifted away over the period of the next year though, her other side effects became more and more prominent. Those were from the chemo and radiation. Even the doctors admitted that she began to have vision problems, hearing problems. Again, was malnourished based on her inability to process food.
At the same time, as she progressed and got better, the neurosurgeons who followed the surgery and so forth, they seemed very curious and optimistic but the oncologist got further and more distant from us and more inexplicably just plain rude, just unpleasant. At one point, the oncologist refused to see us although there was no real explanation for that. The head of pediatrics had to send in a general physician to take over for their practice because the oncologists were unwilling to deal with us and again, inexplicably. You would think that my daughter's progression towards a cure was miracle."
Chrissie had gone nearly a year cancer-free, but her body was too weakened from the conventional cancer treatments to survive and she passed away.
" … we brought Chrissie back and they did an autopsy. The autopsy showed that she died absolutely cancer-free with no sign of cancer and both the oncologist and the radio oncologist were there. We were looking through optics, slides of my daughter's brain. They all confirmed that the damage that they saw was a result of the chemotherapy and radiation. So we know that she died cancer free. The only child of that diagnosis that's ever been cancer free and we know what killed her."
Do Oncologists Really Know How to Treat Cancer?
Most conventional cancer treatments tend to add insult to injury by doing more harm than good -- a fact that has been largely swept under the rug by the medical industry. The real culprits—the underlying causes—are completely ignored, and that is, I believe, the root of the problem. The cancer industry has become a massive for-profit business that is doing everything in its power to maintain the status quo. It is, quite simply, not interested in truly reducing cancer rates; it's interested in treating cancer.
From that perspective, the more cancer cases the better... Even many oncologists, whom most regard as the go-to specialist upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, may be better described as chemotherapy specialists than cancer specialists.
As Rick continues:
"One of the great fallacies of modern medicine is that an oncologist knows anything about cancer because that's not what they are. An oncologist is generally speaking a hematologist. But what an oncologist is is a toxic chemotherapist. They understand toxic chemotherapy. Do they understand cancer? … What do they understand about the causes of cancer?
I went to UCSF under the belief that I was going to talk to a cancer specialist and that's not what I got. What I got was a specialist in surgery who did a magnificent job at what he was supposed to do – a specialist in oncology who did only what they knew, not what was in the best interest of my child, and a radio oncologist who not only lied to us and did nothing to benefit my daughter but ultimately specifically killed my daughter.
He gave my daughter a lethal dosage of radiation. There was no child that was going to survive 6000 rads of whole brain radiation particularly in simultaneous conjunction with chemotherapy. From his perspective, the child was going to die and I would never know the long term effects.
So you're going to go look at this [alternative treatment] website and you're going to see this treatment and you're going to come back and you're going to talk to somebody who knows absolutely nothing about it but who has a financial vested interest in your receiving their treatments. I think the combination of those two really keeps the number of patients that go to Dr. Burzynski down or the number of patients that enroll in any clinical trial that aren't advocated for by these oncologists."
What Can You do to Help Protect Your Freedom of Choice in Health Treatments?
Dr. Burzynski is just one of the alternative cancer specialists out there. There are many others as well, such as the Gerson Therapy and Dr. Nick Gonzalez's nutritional approach – or even medical marijuana. Unfortunately, the system, as currently configured, is stacked against you receiving these potentially life-saving therapies (and others like them).
"I think what's most frustrating about being me is that my daughter died in 1996 at the age of 6-1/2 with an identical twin sister who will never be the same, who is traumatically affected; with brothers and sisters, mother and father who will never be the same, with people who worked very hard to try and save her, whose lives were affected and for what?
Using Dr. Burzynski again as an example, it's now … 2012 and what have I accomplished? There are still parents who have children who should be going to, as an example, Dr. Burzynski. That should be the very first modality, the non-toxic, most effective treatment. He has FDA clinical trials for brainstem glioma that are greater, have shown better results than all clinical studies for brainstem glioma put together anywhere in the world. And yet, a parent can't just pick up the phone or fly on an airplane to Houston and get the treatment.
They have to cross hurdles and as they cross those hurdles, they get more and more dissuaded from going forward and eventually as you pointed out in many cases, they just got simply told no. I'm sorry. The government won't allow you to have this curative agent."
Deaths like that of Rick's daughter are shocking in that they aren't necessary. If the FDA and the oncologists had simply given them the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice to seek whatever therapy they thought appropriate, she may still be alive.
So, what can you do to address this kind of medical injustice and stop it from happening to you or someone you love? First off, Rick suggests if you're looking to receive an unapproved treatment, contact your local politicians:
"First of, my experience started when I chose to go to Dr. Burzynski's there was no lawful method for which I could get the treatment for my daughter in the State of California. So I went to my congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and I went to my senator Dianne Feinstein and the two of them pulled together and got me what was called a compassionate IND (Investigational New Drug) use permit, which allowed me to be the only lawful person bringing this into the State of California at the time."
Knowledge is always one of the highest forms of power, so I also recommend you share this information with your friends and loved ones. The film, Cut Poison Burn, which documents the Navarro's story, is an easy and powerful way to do so, and is being sold on a 'value-priced' basis to help the Navarro's pay off Thomas' medical bills, meaning you can download a copy of the film for $1.99 and up, depending on how much you're willing to pay. You can also purchase a DVD copy for $9.99.
A percentage of the proceeds from the film will go to cancer organizations that donate 100 percent of their proceeds to families fighting cancer—not the American Cancer Society. I'm also making the DVD available on my site. Of these proceeds, 80 percent will go to the producers and Jim Navarro's family. I'm giving the remaining 20 percent to the Grassroots Health's Breast Cancer Prevention Project. All monies donated to them from the sale of Cut Poison Burn will be used to enroll women 60 and over in a project aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of vitamin D in breast cancer prevention. More information about this project can be found at here.