Meridian Patient Feedback Blog

Dr. Chang / GI, Pancreas, hepatobiliary cancers

Posted on: October 12, 2008

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11 Responses to "Dr. Chang / GI, Pancreas, hepatobiliary cancers"

My father, Nick, has Gastric Cancer. In short, he had his entire stomach removed by surgery and was told that, with the surgery plus a highly toxic protocol of chemo and radiation, he faced a 7% chance of survival. He is Stage IV.

We did not settle for this answer! Intensive online research revealed that Japan had much better success rates with this cancer than the US did, so we sought to learn what treatments they were using. Then…we set out to find a doctor in the US who knew of Eastern medicine, and who would help my father not just increase his chance of survival, but respect his wish for a good quality of life.

We found Meridian!

Dr. Chang blended Xeloda (a chemo used in Asia to treat gastric, but only approved here for breast) with some boosters (Lentinan, ECGC, et.al.). My father’s chance of survival went from 7% to, approximately 53%! Not only this, but my father is at home taking his chemo comfortably, and with very few side effects.

We are speechless in our gratitude. We are, in fact, doing a benefit to spread the word of my father’s case, to let others know about Meridian and that there is more out there for cancer treatments than what we are offered in the US, and to raise some funds to donate to Meridian.

To any lay people reading this — you can do it! Read and learn what you can. Find validated research. Don’t settle!! And, go to Meridian Medical. [Originally posted 3/07]

Posts: 1

Old post 05/24/07 at 10:30 PM Reply #1
I was diagnosed with advanced gastric cancer a little over a month ago. At the time of diagnosis, I was advised someone with my condition would have 6-9 months to live and the standard form of treatment would be chemotherapy since my condition is non-operable. I was referred to Dr. Chang by three different individuals who all highly spoke of him. In the month in which Dr. Chang has followed my case, he has provided treatment options well beyond the standard chemotherapy protocol. He also has provided insightful answers to the questions addressed to him. Additionally, we find him to be an extremely experienced oncologist, possessing extensive knowledge of alternatives for treatment extending beyond US borders, compassionate in empathizing with the patient and most importantly, providing us reasonable HOPE by offering treatments which cannot be obtained otherwise.

We feel very fortunate to have been referred to Dr. Chang and strongly recommend him to prospective patients.

Sincerely,

Weiji

At 30, I was diagnosed with a rare, stage 4, “terminal” liver cancer … hepatacellular carcinoma, fibrolamellar variant. With 3 chidlren under five years of age, I had no choice but to fight. Other doctors used all the artillery in their arsenal, undoubtedly giving me time I would not have had otherwise. However, after 5 years of harsh chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, my doctors had few viable treatment options and the cancer was progressing.

Dr. Chang not only offered promising treatments, but he offered treatments that had minimal side effects. Recently, I was excited to learn that my scan showed encouraging results! A few of the larger tumors shrank! My husband and I are hopeful and very grateful for Dr. Chang’s expertise.

In September 1998 I was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer and was told I had six months to live and to get my affairs in order. I was 44 and this made absolutely no sense to me and as scared and weak as I was there was no way I was going to believe that to be my fate. I sought out a surgeon to perform the whipple operation I had heard about from John Hopkins survivors. I found a surgeon at Mt. Sinai, Dr. Brower who had performed 50 whipples with survivors and we decided I had a chance to survive the operation and continue the fight. Then I was introduced to Dr. Gattani who told me that even with the surgery it would be a difficult fight and she put me through a very intense 6 month chemo cocktail and radiation regiment. But she also introduced me to Dr. Raymond Chang and he worked with me with those very “delicious” teas and vitamine supplements. After the first round of treatments I had another 6 months of Gemzar chemo. I kept working throught this second round and slowly I got my strength back and now almost 9 years later I am cancer free!!!!

I would be very glad to talk to anyone dealing with fighting this disease. I believe with all my heart I am alive today because I was supported by smart people like Dr. Chang who believed the disease was beatable. It was both the traditional and supplementary care that was instrumental and I believe that it was also important to continue my work with young people so my life was still about who I was as a person alive in the world, not letting the disease be what defined me.

It was certainly scary and every day I count my blessings and I honor each moment and am so grateful to the doctors and friends and family that worked with me.

I am glad to share more with anyone who might find it helpful (Call Dr. Chang’s office for my contact) . Strength and Courage to all.. Peace.

Laura N. Vural

Hello,

After a diagnosis of Stage IIIA Rectal Cancer (2000), after conventional protocol of chemotherapy and radiation, I felt strangely cleansed; toxins and tumor removed, life ahead of me. Why not? I was relatively young (48), a vegetarian, an “anomaly,” as my oncologist stated.

Although I possessed a rudimentary knowledge and overwhelming interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I did not know where to go for sensible, intelligent medicine and wellness. My rather enlightened oncologist, Dr. Stuart Leitner at St. Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston, NJ, suggested that I consult Dr. Raymond Chang.

I was so impressed with Dr. Chang’s calm, rational attitude, his precision and his ability to tell so much about my psyche-soma (mind-body-spirit) condition. The rigorous physical examination was not necessary. Yes, there were the blood tests and the book that has become my medical records. And there was also an instant bonding, a respect for the other, and I was quite willing to begin my path to remaining free of the symptoms of cancer and to achieve overall wellness.

I could list my medicines, herbs, vitamins, minerals, however; I will not, unless requested. I just want to let you know that Dr. Chang is so aware of what will be coming later as far as research, and integrative treatment. After these six years! of visits, adjustments in medicines taken, attention to particular concerns (my copper level, DHEA level and more), I am cancer free with a minimal chance of recurrence–quite the antithesis of the often quoted 65 % plus chance for cancers that present similar to mine.

Working with Dr. Chang prompted me to continue study of integrative medical practices and in 2005 I earned my Master’s degree in holistic health studies from Georgian Court University and continued study with the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s Cancer Guide program. It is my goal, now, to teach, to show others that this cancer can be beaten, that healing is quite possible and that life can open in so many ways, unknown before that dance with mortality.

Dr. Chang and staff were with me through these six years, through concurrent intense life events and remain colleagues in wellness. And I am most appreciative!

In Healing,

Deborah [Original post Jan 2007, remain well disease free Summer 2008]

One quiet day in early September of 2004, my life changed in the split of a second. Just one week earlier, I had gone for surgery to remove what two doctors from two separate hospitals had confirmed as a hepatic hemangioma (a non-cancerous, blood vessel tumor in the liver). Unfortunately, both of these physicians had been mistaken. So, at 39 years of age in a happy marriage, with a five year old daughter; and a great career, I was now diagnosed with Stage IV cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile ducts) which had spread to other areas of my abdomen and thoracic area. Fortunately, the surgeons were successful at removing all of the cancer with the exception of one lymph node.

So, I did what most people do in a panic: “freak out” and listen to others who say “you must go to Sloan Kettering – they’re the best!” So off I went, to one of the most horrible experiences of my life. I happened to get the physician who was the coldest and least compassionate; who provided little hope, and told me my prognosis was “grim.” My family and I left, distraught beyond imagination.

However, two positive things had occurred that day while sitting four hours in the waiting room. One, the nasty doctor and his colleagues did hit on the right selection and course of chemotherapy; and a woman in the waiting room (I never did get her name) provided my husband with the name of a doctor who practiced both Eastern and Western medicine. His name was Dr. Chang, and his office was right here in New York City.

So, determined to live, to beat all odds and make sure to prove the Sloan Kettering doctor and his statistics wrong; my husband set up an appointment with
Dr. Chang. I must admit, I did not know what to expect. At the first meeting, even amidst our panic and despair Dr. Chang made my husband and I feel very comfortable as we asked our numerous questions. Dr Chang actually answered all these questions and provided hope for what an hour earlier seemed like a hopeless situation.

Dr. Chang and his staff provided a very different approach from the one we derived from our Sloan Kettering experience. Although he was supportive of the chemotherapy, radiation and surgery options available locally, Dr. Chang was also extremely knowledgeable of research and treatment that was available WORLDWIDE! I immediately felt Dr. Chang could help me!!! HERE WAS OUR FIRST EXPERIENCE OF SOMEONE PROVIDING ENCOURAGEMENT AND HOPE!

Since I lived in New Jersey, Dr. Chang asked if I was near St. Barnabas Hospital (in Livingston, New Jersey) and highly recommended a physician named Dr. Stuart Leitner. Respecting his opinion, I then became one of Dr. Leitner’s patients. After having “fired” many physicians who did not provide hope and openness to holistic treatment methods, I had FINALLY found the PHYSICIAN TEAM for me!!!!

Since 2004, I have undergone chemotherapy for one year (at St. Barnabas), and ongoing alternative and complementary treatments (with Dr. Chang). The cancer went away for one and a half years! Then, it returned for another round of the same treatment as the first time – and the cancer went away again. In the beginning of 2008, the cancer returned again.

This time, Dr. Chang suggested Dendritic Cell Therapy in addition to similar alternative and complimentary medications, supplements, and chemotherapy. So off my family and I went to Duderstadt, Germany to provide my own white blood cells so that a cancer vaccination could be made specifically for me (this was the first step in Dendritic Cell Therapy). In Germany we meet Dr. NeBelhut and his colleagues. They were extremely knowledgeable and experienced in Dendritic Cell Therapy and very hopeful about its success in treating cholangiocarcinoma. (Not to mention that the trip to Germany was fantastic!) I then added Dr. NeBelhut to my physician team.

Currently, all my scans are showing that the cancer is slowly going away and I will be rescanned in the future. I am confident that I will beat this cancer again by doing all the suggested treatments by my three physicians.

If it weren’t for Dr. Chang, Dr. Leitner, and Dr. Nebelhut I am not sure I would be alive today to enjoy my family and friends and to watch my daughter grow up. I owe them my life! My team of doctors, my family, church, and friend support, hope, a positive attitude and a fight to survive are my strongest assets to beat this cancer once and for all!

Renee

A little side note: if there is anyone out there who also has cholangiocarcinoma, I would be very happy to talk to you. We are a rare breed in the U.S.A. and sometimes it is good to talk to someone going through similar experiences.

I was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer in july 2000 with too many mets to my liver (10-20) to be operable (with one more met in my lung). I am alive today, without any evidence of disease for the past four years. My tumors were not removed by surgery; they slowly shrank such that there was no cancer left when they opened me up surgically in 2005. A combination of traditional chemo (5FU/xeloda) and Dr. Chang’s supplements rid my body of the cancer. I am a very unusual and lucky survivor, and am always aware that it could return.
Given the horrible prognosis I was given at the beginning, I was as leary as anyone that any therapy, traditional or not, would make a dent in my cancer. I assumed each CAT scan would bring me the fateful news that the tumors had grown; instead I kept hearing stable or slight decrease. After five years of this, I asked my oncologist at Memorial-Sloan for the millionth time whether they might have become operable and she finally said yes. They opened me up and the tumors were devoid of live cancer.
Given that I was given nothing more than the most elementary of traditional chemos, I have to believe that it was Dr. Chang’s supplements that saved my life, mostly by attacking the tumors, perhaps also by allowing my body to tolerate chemo for so long. Dr. Chang always took the time necessary to explain why he was suggesting the 15-20 different supplements he recommended during those years; I became a true expert at pill taking. Though I researched alot on my own, mostly in the more traditional approaches, I knew I could not become as proficient as he understanding the complexities of complementary medicine and followed his recommendations. He also provided more info on traditional approaches, especially those on the cutting edge, than my oncologist.
In short, he was great. What else can I say about someone who saved my life.

Message to Renee Jensen:

My husband Pete was diagnosed w/cholangio carcinoma in 03/08. He has had radiation treatments, chemo, and 2 attempted surgeries at MSK. We believe he has exhausted all traditional therapies and are looking for someone knowledgeable/reputable to suggest alternative therapies. Your positive comments about Meridian, and specifically Dr. Chang were very helpful. I will look into scheduling a consultation with Dr. Chang and will pray for your continued good health.

I was diagnosed with stage IIIc colorectal cancer in October 2010, had a resection of the upper right colon at Beth Israel in New York City with the excellent surgeon Dr. Joseph Martz and then 6 months of chemo (FOLFOX) at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) under the care of oncologist Dr. Leonard Saltz.

A subsequent scan at MSK showed some growth of 4 small nodes that had always been there. They now believed this to be a metastasis but the recommendation was to continue to monitor it every three months until they felt chemotherapy treatment was needed.

I was not comfortable with not doing anything and luckily a friend told me about Dr. Chang. From the first meeting he put us at ease and offered not only many different treatment approaches but most importantly he offered hope. The power of having a positive, hopeful out-look cannot be underestimated when it comes to the quality of life and the chances of survival with a potentially fatal disease.

We tried several combinations of medications, including a low dosage chemo pill, but unfortunately the 4 lung mets continued to grow. My oncologist at MSK wanted me to start chemotherapy right away on a 6 month on / 3 month off cycle basically for the rest of my life however long that might be. This was not acceptable to me.

I decided to try the dendritic cell immunotherapy offered by Dr. Nesselhut, Dr. Chang’s associate in Germany. Dr. Chang also told us about Dr. Prof. Axel Rolle, the head of thoracic surgery at the Fachkrankenhaus in Dresden, Germany http://www.recura-kliniken.de/kliniken/fachkrankenhaus-coswig/startseite. Prof. Rolle had treated several of Dr. Chang’s patients with a laser method that was not being done in the US for lack of FDA approval. To be thorough and have all the information possible, I did some research and met with a surgeon at MSK as well as an interventional radiologist there and spoke to Dr. Robert McKenna, a well-known thoracic surgeon at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. I flew to Germany to start the vaccine process (described elsewhere on this website) and to Dresden to interview Prof. Rolle.

Prof. Rolle impressed us with his knowledge, his forthrightness and his vast experience. The hospital there only deals with lung patients and Prof. Rolle has over the years performed over 2000 operations.

In the US, the method for removing lung tumors is called a wedge resection and involves using staples to section off and remove the tumor and surrounding area that is affected. Depending on the placement of the lesions the operation is minimally invasive with a small 3 -4 cm cut that is muscle sparing, the ribs are spread for access and can it be partially or wholly video assisted. The laser surgery that Prof. Rolle uses is a full open thoracic surgery, with a 7 cm cut. It is also muscle and rib sparing. No staples are used, as the laser cuts and seals as it goes along. In this way many more lesions can be removed and comparatively more lung tissue is spared. In the US they will not operate on multiple lesions because of loss of tissue. Having more lung tissue is also an advantage in the possibility that further surgeries are needed in the future. Not having the staples also means that the lung can naturally expand back to the size, or close to the size, that it was originally.

After meeting Prof Rolle we had the advantage and pleasure of being able to speak to one of his American patients who was there again 3 months after her first surgery for an operation on her other lung. (Prof Rolle likes you to have at least 5 to 6 weeks between operations if you are getting surgery on both lungs.) She and her family had done a lot of research, had seen top doctors in Boston including at Dana Farber, and had the financial resources to have the very best care available. So I felt privileged to have the value of their experience and advice. They were very pleased with the results of both operations and the care she received under Prof. Rolle and the whole team at Fachkrankenahus. At the end of her second month after the 1st surgery she was back to running 3 miles a day! Needless to say I was convinced and schedule my first surgery for that week and the 2nd surgery on the other lung for 6 weeks later.

In the case of both lungs two of the tumors were in difficult locations – one being between two lobes and near a large vein, the other also being centrally located and near a main artery. Prof. Rolle explained that he would in both cases try to spare the lobes and get just the tumor but there was always the possibility once he was in there that this would not be possible. I appreciated his honesty. In both cases he was successful and was able to spare the lobes and entirely remove the tumors with a minimal loss of tissue. He also examines the entire lung with his hand (all the surgeons I spoke to said there is no matching a surgeons fingers for sensitivity) to search for any possibly other lesions that may be too small to show up on CT scan. On the 2nd lung he found 8 additional lesions which he removed and analyzed and luckily they turned out not to be cancer but old scar tissue and fibrosis. In both cases there was no additional spreading and no involvement of the lymph nodes.

I was extremely happy with the operations and the recovery and the excellent care I received at the hospital there. They keep you appx. 2 and ½ weeks after the operation and follow up with x-rays, physiotherapy, blood tests, oxygen tests etc. to make sure you are recovering properly, quickly, and as painlessly as possibly. I cannot say enough about how wonderful the nursing staff and all the doctors were. The hospital was modern, spotless, quiet and comfortable. (I also want to say as a woman and being somewhat vain that the scar, though long, is very thin and hidden under the breast and underarm and with time will be practically unnoticeable.)

It is also worth noting that of the tumors they removed on one side 30% and on the other 70% of the cells were dead. Which means some combination of the treatment I was getting under Dr. Chang’s care and guidance was working!

Currently I am categorically cancer free and staying on the immunotherapy vaccines and Dr. Chang’s other recommended targeted therapies to keep it that way. Considering I have been out of traditional chemo for close to 20 months and that there were only the 4 tumors since the beginning, and there has been no spreading to other organs or lymph nodes, my prognosis is very good. There was also this recent soon to be published report that showed very good results for using surgery as treatment for metastatic lung cancer – better results than with chemotherapy! http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ELCC/32300

Every person’s case is different – the way the disease manifests itself, the way one responds to treatment etc. – I am not against chemotherapy but think that it may not the be right option for everyone. In my case I definitely think it was not. This is why it is so important to be pro-active and ask questions and research the new treatments that are out there. And why it is so important to have a right doctor, to help you discover and make the choices that you feel are right for you. Dr. Chang is open minded and informed and treats every patient on an individual basis not as a case, but as a human being.

I am happy to speak to anyone who has any questions about my (positive) experiences with either the laser surgery, immunotherapy vaccines or Dr. Chang.

I indirectly know of a sarcoma patient who had 200 tumors in 2003 in both lungs. He is alive and well with <5 tumors left after laser therapy. After a few initial rounds of "weeding" with Dr. Rolle, he has been going for occassional cryothgerapy if lung tumors popped up. Now 9 years later this patient is still running marathons.

BTW there are many other centers in Germany that do the laser
surgery. Rumor lso has it that Dr. Rolle may be retiring soon.

May 17, 2013

I’m long-winded, so stick with me….

My husband has Stage IV cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer.) It has metastasized to his lungs and to his liver. He had a Whipple surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. When it recurred, one and a half years later, another round of chemotherapy was half-heartedly offered. I say ‘half-heartedly’ because of the three oncologists we sought opinions from, none had much to offer. MD Anderson Cancer Hospital, along with our local oncologist, suggested the same chemotherapy regimen we had tried before. ?? It came back, why try the same chemo regimen?! Both of these oncologists told us that there was no cure for this disease. We went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America. They offered to try a different chemo mix; this chemo failed. In April, the CTCA oncologist told us we were at the end of the road. He had very little else to offer. He suggested we look for clinical trials. He also pronounced my husband’s disease incurable. In short, our doctors gave up on my husband.

Fortunately, we had a great nutritional team we were working with as the discussions about treatment choices at CTCA were unfolding. They gave us a pearl of wisdom: “Do your homework now. Research. Decide what to do next, because “what next?” is coming.” So, I did. I researched. And, I found 3 doctors.

Dr. Raymond Chang. When I found Dr. Chang’s treatment methodology online I knew I had tapped into something really, really encouraging. And, this has proven to be true as my husband has become Dr. Chang’s patient. I don’t know about you, but looking online for cancer treatments outside of the mainstream oncology setting….well, I ran into some real quackery. I researched Dr. Chang. I learned a lot about him, his practice, his medical pedigree, his methods. My husband and I decided to travel to New York to meet Dr. Chang. We were immediately impressed with Dr. Chang’s approach, his ability to produce published research regarding his choice of medicines, and his very evident optimism. We decided to start his treatment protocol immediately. We feel very positive and have a great deal of hope. In fact, in one month’s time on Dr. Chang’s treatments, my husband’s CA19-9 tumor marker dropped from 3143 to 1688. It was the first time since September that this marker not only didn’t climb, it dropped. Almost by half. I know tumor markers aren’t an exact measurement of cancer; they fluctuate. But, this was a significant drop and seems to indicate that something good is happening. We are very encouraged. Dr. Chang’s concern for my husband is evident; I know he’s with us; he wants to see him succeed; he wants to help him get well. Hmmm. As opposed to the ‘other guys’ who had nothing to offer, nor did they have a belief that anything could help, so they jumped ship.

Dr. Nesselhut – Germany. Dr. Nesselhut has done work in Germany with dendritic cell therapy and the Newcastle Disease Virus. This treatment is fascinating. And? Better yet, it is promising. We went to Germany and proceeded with the treatments. Dr. Nesselhut is a compassionate physician who really takes his time explaining the process, the breakdown of immune cells, how the virus boosts the cells in the treatment process. His staff is professional and helpful. Our trip was a good one.

Dr. Mark Renneker. Dr. Renneker is a patient advocate. He’s a brilliant physician, thinks outside of the box, offers us encouraging guidance, confirms and affirms our choices. He comes up with ideas, things to check, things to rule out. He’s always moving forward. His comment to us? “You never give up and no doctor should ever give up on you!” He was dismayed that the mainstream medical community so readily pronounced a sentence and then stepped out of the picture.

We feel positive. We feel confident. We feel encouraged. We feel we have made the right choices. We feel grateful to these 3 doctors. We don’t know what the future holds; we don’t have promises or guarantees from anyone. And, we don’t have blinders on. What we do have, though, are 3 brilliant physicians on our side; willing to think outside of the box; and are committed to my husband’s improved health….and, dare I say it, cure.

I had a very, very disturbing conversation with a ‘friend’ of my husband’s who is a doctor. He was extremely negative about our choices. He felt he needed to tell me how cholangiocarcinoma patients ‘pass away.’ Because I needed to hear that, don’t you know. He told me we were chasing something that isn’t there; there is no cure. Accept it. Prepare. Decide about such things as resuscitation (seriously?) He suggested that our new doctors might not be above board; that we have no clue what kind of medicine they’re actually giving my husband. This could be a scam where we pay and pay and pay until my husband dies. It was completely negative. And, sadly, it was ignorant. He had no knowledge about any of our physicians, yet he freely offered a negative opinion about their successes. His accusations were ingrained, I think, something he is trained to think and say. When I mentioned the tumor marker drop? He had nothing to say. I have no problem with skepticism. But skeptics who speak without knowledge? It’s not fair. And, I am definitely not crazy about physicians who condemn other physicians who really try…who don’t give up on their patients…who have real successes….who keep challenging the mainstream by their successes….who research and comb through articles looking for medicines that might help their patients. Dr. Chang actually wrote me on a Sunday evening about a study he had just read that pertained to my husband’s cancer. He said he may consider those medicines for him, but not just now. And, I am not impressed with mainstream medical professionals who scoff at integrative treatments when they have nothing new to offer themselves. Chemo drugs that are 30 years old and ineffective. I’m so sorry if I sound angry. I’m not! I share this part of our journey only because I know if we are being discouraged by others in our choice for life, others are too.

To anyone reading this now: be encouraged. Where there is life, there is hope. It’s okay to question conventional medicine. It’s okay to research integrative therapies. Ask questions. Trust your instincts. Realize that there are great things happening in the cancer world. You just have to tap into them. We did. We have no regrets. We feel blessed. And the CA19-9 goes down….and down….and down….we like that.

Feel free to contact us via Dr. Chang’s office. We’d be happy to talk.

Laurie and Jonathan Dittmar

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