Meridian Patient Feedback Blog

Dr. Chang / Lung (NSCLC and SCLC)

Posted on: October 12, 2008

Advertisements

6 Responses to "Dr. Chang / Lung (NSCLC and SCLC)"

My father was diagnosed two years ago with metastatic nonsmall cell lung cancer. Dr. Chang has been an indispensable resource and I cannot imagine my father would have done as well as he has done without Dr. Chang. In situations like ours, it is necessary to go beyond the rigid boundaries of traditional “standard of care” medicine and to use treatments that may be based on more preliminary evidence and/or scientific theory. Dr. Chang appropriately weighs the potential risks and benefits of any given treatment and advises accordingly. He makes accessible compelling treatment options that would otherwise not be available. He intelligently and safely combines treatments to increase the patient’s chance of response. The negative connotations that are sometimes associated with “alternative medicine” do not apply to Dr. Chang. Rather, his approach is always based in science and he steers clear of any treatments that would conflict with a patient’s conventional care. He stays on top of the most cutting edge research and applies the latest in research results to benefit his patients. There is probably no other doctor like him, and I think his care is essential for any patient given a difficult cancer diagnosis.

I am a retired professor in New York. After being diagnosed with Lung Cancer and having my lower left lobe removed in January 2001, I very quickly moved to Stage IV. By the time I met Dr. Chang in August 2001, the Lung Cancer had spread to my brain and 2 separate tumors in my neck. I was really a “basket case” when I had my first appointment with him and said, “HELP – please strengthen my immune system for whatever lies ahead”.

We’ve had an amazing 6 1/2 years together. Every person I meet, especially Doctors, no matter under what circumstance, is amazed that I’m around to tell my story.” Got Cancer? Consider This” (see attachment) and was my response to the obvious surprise, expressed verbally or by facial expression. It needs another update. I started writing it in 2002 and now in December 2006, I had the 8th tumor removed and I AM ALIVE. Thanks to Dr. Chang.

I believe it is imperative to spread the word about Dr. Chang and his treatment approach. The magic words used today by conventional medicine is “targeted therapies”. My thought every time I hear it is, “wasn’t my treatment tailored for my cancer?”. Dr. Chang’s treatments are tailored to the individual. Since he is up-to-date ( an extraordinary feat, in and of itself ) on research all over the world, a patient of his can get not only a “targeted therapy” but the possibility that something the works in Germany can be used to treat his patient here in America.

The words I’ve written about Dr. Chang in my story “Got Cancer? Consider This” have gotten more exposure starting May when the book “The Voices of Lung Cancer” has been published. Of all the survivor stories in the book, mine is the only one that presents the world of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as practiced by Dr. Raymond Chang, as a treatment option.

So many people go to vitamin stores, so many people hear the words Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( CAM ) and think acupuncture and green tea. Few realize there is a world of evidence-based medicine, which is proven and offers the patient enhanced quality of life plus success in achieving THE goal – staying alive.

HOW LUCKY AM I !

THANK YOU, DR. CHANG [ Originally posted 3/07, I remain alive and well at this time!]

Got Cancer? Consider This!

Am I unique? Or am I just lucky? Is it a miracle or the ability of a gifted doctor? Could it be a doctor who incorporates complementary and alternative (CAM) evidence-based medicine in his practice?

In November 2000, I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, which, once it metastasizes, has a 1% five-year survival rate. After a total of 7 tumors–4 separate lung tumors, 2 separate neck tumors and a brain tumor–.treated by 4 conventional surgeries, 1 stereotactic radio surgery using a powerful, highly focused computer-directed radiation beam, and several courses of conventional radiation, I am now cancer free. The notes in my medical records refer to the “unusual course” of my cancer. I asked my oncologist what this meant and he told me the unusual aspect was that I was still alive.

I am cancer free. No one knows for how long my lung cancer will be held at bay. No one, including all nine members of the team of cancer specialists treating me at one of the world’s best known cancer diagnosis and treatment centers. Yes, when I bend over or climb hills I do become short of breath. Nevertheless, I enjoy my family and friends and regularly swim half a mile, work out at a fitness center, walk two miles, line dance weekly, sing in 2 choirs, all of which I believe, increase my lung capacity. I returned to work briefly and retired at age seventy. What I do believe is that by adding to my medical team an extraordinary medical practitioner who understands that conventional medicine does not yet have all the answers, I have extended my life and enhanced the quality of that life.

Why nine “cancer specialists”? In January, 2001, I underwent surgery to remove what appeared to be a small tumor confined to the lower left lobe of the lung. The surgeon noticed something in the upper left lobe, which he also removed. The “something” turned out to be a different form of lung cancer that was so small; it hadn’t even shown up on any scans.

I spent almost two weeks in the hospital. When I went back for my six-week check-up, I reported a most bothersome cough. The surgeon then referred me to the pulmonologist for the cough, giving me a second cancer specialist. Lo and behold, a short time later I noticed what appeared to be a swollen gland beneath the jawbone on the right side of my face. I called the surgeon’s office and asked whether there could be any relationship to my recent surgery Then I went to my primary physician, who sent me for a CT scan, which revealed not a swollen gland, but a tumor. I was referred me to a neck surgeon back at the same hospital I had left just two months prior.

A biopsy determined that this new tumor had metastasized from that small, almost unseen tumor in the upper left lobe of my lung. Preparing for yet another operation required a PET scan, which found that not only did I have a metastasized neck tumor, I now also had a brain tumor. Doctors 3 and 4, a radiologist and a neurologist, removed the brain tumor using stereotactic radio surgery. Doctor 5, the neck surgeon, removed the neck tumor. Doctor 6, a dentist, next saw me to ensure that my teeth were in good enough condition to withstand radiation. Doctor 7, a second radiation oncologist, managed the follow-up radiation.

While recovering from all of that and at the five-month mark from the original surgery, I noticed yet another swelling, this time under my chin. I was concerned. It hurt and kept getting bigger and bigger and pretty soon it was the size of a grapefruit, entirely covering the lower jawbone on the left side of my face.

At my follow-up visit with doctor 8, the oncologist who had been assigned to my case, he asked, “What’s that?” I reported to him what the neck surgeon had said to me over and over in repeated phone calls and at a visit – that this was, by the neck surgeon’s diagnosis, merely a “radiation wattle”, and a reaction to the radiation I had received.

Doctor 8, the oncologist, ordered another CT scan, which revealed yet another tumor. Having been allowed to grow unchecked and untreated for six weeks, the latest tumor – now the fifth one – was inoperable. I requested a different neck surgeon, doctor 9. Doctor 9 was not sanguine. He was concerned that the tumor was inoperable and that if he could perform surgery to remove it, I might very well need skin grafts to my face and neck. It was his decision to utilize radiation to reduce the tumor to operable size. So it was back to Doctor 7, the radiation oncologist, whom I had come to trust, who would manage the radiation treatments.

It was at this juncture, facing five more weeks of radiation to hopefully reduce the size of the tumor to an operable size, that I was considering leaving this highly reputed hospital. Moreover, recognizing that if this was the best that conventional medicine had to offer in dealing with cancer it might be advisable to consider medical modalities and methodologies outside the realm of conventional medicine. I realize now that I was moving from a passive to an active participant in my battle with cancer.

I requested copies of all my records and began researching my options for something beyond surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, with their considerable side effects. I learned that there was information showing that common practice is not always the best practice. Exploring CAM (complementary and alternative medicine), my search led me to a doctor who was a Board certified Internist in private practice, whose practice was based on evidence based medicine and whose medical armamentarium reached far beyond that of most conventional physicians.

His medical credentials were most impressive. I learned that the treatments that he frequently prescribed included a specific diet, off-label medicine, Chinese herbs that enhance the immune system, and various vitamins and supplements.

We should all be aware that clinical trials and medical research are being concurrently performed at universities and recognized research centers, where qualified scientists are researching outcome-based therapies and approaches. Many researchers are exploring – and reporting on – successes using new uses or dosages of existing drugs in treating cancers. Numbers of these modalities have proven beneficial in preventing and fighting illness, but have fallen outside the standard protocols of mainstream medical practice and are not widely utilized. The doctors who are willing to utilize the evidence of benefits revealed by this published research are said to be practicing evidence-based medicine. Further information can be found on the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews web site http://www. Cochrane.org.

With this information in hand, I started my radiation treatment, but made an appointment to see this new special doctor. I told him I wanted to strengthen my immune system to withstand the additional radiation and surgery yet to come. He examined my medical records and ordered a blood test, which revealed an extraordinarily high level of copper in my system that he said had to be reduced, and quickly. It was the first time anyone had ordered a check of my copper level, despite the frequent blood tests I had undergone. I have since learned that in Germany it is standard practice to include copper level in the complete blood count (CBC).

He prescribed a drug designed to reduce the copper level. In addition to medications, he prescribed a diet, a regimen of Chinese herbs, which he himself had formulated. One of the drugs he originally suggested to treat cancer was looked upon with some skepticism by mainstream medicine, but its use against cancer has become more and more widely accepted.

He closely monitors me via monthly blood work. One of the medications was lowering my white blood count, so he changed the dosage. Other than that, none of these medications or supplements has had any negative side effects. What is clear, given my unanticipated recovery and sudden cessation of what had been rapidly occurring metastases, is that the regimen has had a most positive effect. All of this is not instead of, but as a complement to the “usual and customary” conventional treatment. While I was under active treatment, the conventional doctors were kept informed of this complementary treatment just as my internist was informed of their treatment.

The removal of that fifth tumor went remarkably well. The surgery was successful. The radiation had reduced the size of the tumor and Doctor 7 managed the implantation of radioactive seeds in my neck as part of the same operation. The surgeon projected a ten-day to two-week hospital stay. To the surprise of my physicians in the hospital, because I tolerated the procedure so well, I was sent home in two days, I am sure that this is due to the benefits of the complementary treatment. The rapid metastasis had ceased and there were no new tumors!

Until…Until October, 2004, when the oncologist reported a change in my CT scan. Back in 2001, he had informed me that there were spots on my right lung. I knew that each time I had a follow-up CT scan, the possibility of a change was lurking, and now it had happened. But the oncologist said, “ Go to Florida for the winter as you planned. The scans make ‘slices’ and it is possible this change is just the angle of the scan.” I looked at him horrified. There was no way I could relax and enjoy the sunny South. My mind wouldn’t let me.

I called the surgeon and asked her to review the latest scan. She did and said, “Let’s be sure”. A needle biopsy was ordered and the news was “Yes – it’s cancer”. “Get it out”, I said, and in November of 2004 she operated and removed 4 “things”. – 2 benign and 2 new primary lung tumors in the upper and middle lobes of my right lung. Yes, I did go to Florida, a little later than planned, and much relieved. Relieved because after the surgery, I saw my special doctor and his words were “You’re lucky”. Having had the oncologist tell me that there was a high possibility of reoccurrence requiring further surgery, I didn’t feel especially lucky. Now having had 7 tumors and yet another hospital stay, even another successful surgery didn’t make me feel lucky. But he meant lucky in another way. A new treatment, this one based on a different programmed cell death – was now available. He prescribed another investigational drug, again I signed all the legal releases, and again I was able to obtain this new medicine on a compassionate use basis. I was lucky. The molecular oncologist, who received the 2002 Nobel Prize for Medicine and whose research led to the new drug’s development wasn’t lucky. He died of lung cancer in 2004, at age 54.

Today, almost 6 years since that fateful diagnosis in November 2000, I continue to be a survivor of Stage IV metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, a disease where the odds are against me.

Most of the doctors know my special doctor, a former colleague at the hospital.

I do sense the beginnings of openness to CAM. The neurologist does ask about the special doctor’s treatment and at one follow-up visit, he asked me for his card. My experience has not only convinced me, but it demonstrates the absolute need for the patient to take an informed and active role in any treatment decisions. So I am unique and I am lucky and yes, to me it is a miracle to be under the care of this special physician. The combination of conventional cancer care I received and continue to receive at the hospital complemented by an ‘out of the box ‘ practitioner has resulted in my case being labeled by the oncologist as “UNUSUAL”.

In Nov. 2007, I was diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV. My lung tumor was quite large in my small body…about 7 cm. In December it was discovered that I was also the proud owner of a brain met the size of a large radish.

The diagnosis came as a shock to say the very least, although I had a suspicion that something wasn’t “right” for about a year previously. I had been feeling more tired than usual and had less energy on the treadmill. My husband and I just attributed it to the fact that I was a Real Estate Broker in a fast market. I had just opened a new office and launched my ad campaign after 2 years of development. A young 53 with no previous health issues, who would have ever thought that I was, at that time, only a few months away from death if left untreated?

In that state of shock, I immediately rushed out to do what 99% of people do…go to the local medical community for “help”. After all, isn’t that what people do when they get sick? Go to their local doctor who writes a prescription and makes it all better? It was at that point I got my second shock as well as a fast and sad education: at Stage IV, the regular medical community had nothing to offer me to save my life. They hoped to extend it by a matter of a few months IF I was lucky, and IF I stayed strong enough to physically withstand the assault on my body.

I did choose to have a very low dose of chemotherapy in conjunction with proton radiation to my lung as well as a one-shot stereotactic treatment of radiation to my brain met. This treatment was administered at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. The Lord was with me in that those treatments worked…but had it not been for Dr. Chang prescribing various alternative supplements to me that helped me with lessening the effects of the treatments (i.e., nauseau) I may not have been able to stay as strong as I did throughout the 7 week treatment period.

But that is just a small part of how Dr. Chang has helped me over the last year.

My “regular” doctors never once suggested I take any nutrients or supplements that would play a part in preventing the spread of cancer, help with digestion, my immune system, mood, sleeping, etc. on a natural level. They were not amiss – they just are not informed because they do not learn this in their medical training. All they know are synthetic toxins and drugs. Dr. Chang knows and understands both western and eastern medicine. He offers both to his patients so they get the very best of both worlds!

Anyone who has had cancer treatment for any length of time will usually tell you that they feel like a “number” rather than a person. Dr. Chang never does. He respects you as a person and he listens to your requests. We communicate mainly through email as I live in a different state than New York where his practice is. But he is MORE familiar with my medical condition than any other doctor I have known. He answers my emails usually within mere hours offering suggestions and treatment advice tailored to my medical desires and needs.

I am 16 months post diagnosis and there is still no evidence of lingering cancer in my body. Other than Dr. Chang’s prescribed supplements, I am on absolutely no medicine of any sort. Not even a Tylenol. I exercise every day and eat a very healthy diet and look forward to many more years on this earth, thanks to my new friend, Dr. Chang.

If you are considering cancer care, you should seriously consider Dr. Chang. He will work with you singularly or with another doctor. He never gets offended as other doctors usually do if you suggest bringing in a second practitioner. After all, this is your body, your life. You deserve the best.

In closing, the last bit of advice I might give is :beware of online “self-medicating”. The waters abound with predators waiting to take advantage of scared people and you will find tons of “cancer cures”…many of which are downright dangerous, or in the very least not the right treatment for you. Dr. Chang will only prescribe supplements and offer medical care that he feels “will do no harm” first and foremost. Your Dr. Chang prescribed regime will be tailored to you and your medical condition backed by science. With cancer, you can’t ask for more than that –

God bless!

Feel free to call our office at 2126831221 during regular hours or email info@meridianmedical.org

Sally
Meridian

My brother suggested I might like this website. He was
entirely right. This post actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time
I had spent for this info! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: