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