The Starfish Project

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Cancer Patients Saved by Alternative Therapies are Forcing Doctors to Think Again.

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One year ago, John Scrymgeour appeared to be on his deathbed. The long-time Calgary business-man had all but lost a 10-year battle against prostate cancer. Conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments had been tried, had ultimately failed, and the doctors had given up. For the first time in his life, Mr. Scrymgeour was an invalid, wheelchair-bound, barely able to move his legs and dependent on round-the-clock nursing. But in what many assumed were his dying weeks, Mr. Scrymgeour learned of a herbal tea dismissed as quackery by most oncologists. He began drinking it, and has been taking it twice a day for the past year. Today, at 79, Mr. Scrymgeour is out of the wheelchair and playing golf twice a week. Blood tests indicate his cancer cell-count is way down. He credits the tea, named Essiac, for his second chance at life.

Two years ago Gaetano Montani was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer and given a life expectancy of just six months, even under aggressive conventional treatment. “We were told that this type of cancer was the most vigorous, and was inoperable,” says his wife, Carolyn. “My husband’s chance of survival was especially terrible–he had already suffered burns in a fire, two previous heart attacks, open-heart surgery, a stroke and gallbladder surgery.” But soon after, the Indiana couple’s youngest daughter brought home a box of Essiac. The cancer specialists more or less shrugged their shoulders, so Mr. Montani began drinking the tea. Like Mr. Scrymgeour, he kept right on drinking it. Soon after, says Mrs. Montani, his cancer was gone.

A random survey of Ontario breast cancer patients, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that 67% of respondents were using alternative medicine. Americans are estimated to be spending a staggering $27 billion per year on alternative cancer treatments. The alternatives include radical diet changes, green tea, a derivative of shark cartilage, and a host of herbal remedies. The two most credible alternatives appear to be Essiac and a compound known as 714X. Both, interestingly, were developed by Canadians, the first by a nurse in the 1920s, the second by an ostracized Quebec physician in the ’70s.

Many certified oncologists continue to be disturbed at the scarcity of methodologically rigorous studies of alternative remedies. But to cancer sufferers, these are merely pedantic objections. A major attraction is that the alternatives are far less physically harsh than the three conventional approaches–surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which critics have dubbed the “slash, burn and poison trio.” When mixed with hope and desperation, plus the powerful testimonials of those who say they were cured, the alternatives have almost irresistible appeal.

Although these remedies exude a faint odour of mysticism, the people who take them seem to be sensible enough. Mr. Scrymgeour, for one, made his name in Alberta’s oil patch, an industry not without its own purveyors of false hopes and costly tricks. Several decades ago, he became an entrepreneurial legend, founding and running Westburne International Industries until 1986, later retiring to Bermuda and New York. He is also a major patron of Vancouver’s Fraser Institute, and a part owner of this magazine.

Mr. Scrymgeour’s comfortable retirement routine was brutally interrupted, however, with the news he had cancer. He found out on Valentine’s Day 1990, and it inspired in him an instant resolve: he was determined to beat it.

He was able to obtain the best of conventional treatment, and it did initially lower his count of PSA, prostate-specific antigen, the key measure of the activity of cancer cells in his body. But the cancer returned last year with a severity that convinced doctors Mr. Scrymgeour had little hope. In the 11th hour, a friend told him about a Canadian nurse who had reportedly healed thousands of ostensibly incurable cancer victims using four common herbs. Today, Mr. Scrymgeour’s PSA count is almost non-existent, and he is fully satisfied there is only one reason: his twice-daily dosage of Essiac tea.

Essiac users are now estimated to number in the thousands across North America. One user’s wife saved what she believed is physical proof of its effectiveness. Richard Schmidt was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1985. The Torontonian had nine operations to excise tumours from his bladder. At one point, he was comatose, on life support and suffering a severe infection, pneumonia and kidney failure, all while requiring another tumour operation. In short, he was considered a near-hopeless case.

Mr. Schmidt’s wife Hannelore in desperation sought out a naturopath, who recommended Essiac. After three weeks of drinking the tea, black chunks of tumour and skin began passing with his urine. Mrs. Schmidt preserved 40 pieces in a formaldehyde-filled jar. Soon doctors could find no more cancer. Mr. Schmidt recovered to thoroughly enjoy his early 80s, gardening and puttering about the couple’s home. At 86 he suffered a stroke and passed away peacefully, cancer-free. “Essiac brought him many good, happy years,” recalls Mrs. Schmidt.

Source: Report Magazine


Written by Tracey

September 23, 2008 at 7:51 am

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