Cancer Free for 18 Years
By Van Merkle, DC, CCN, DCBCN, DABCI
There are thousands of oncologists, radiologists and cancer specialists in the world, so when a patient comes to a chiropractor and asks for help after a cancer diagnosis, you should feel proud.It is direct reflection of their trust in your opinion, skills and standing within the community. You can offer your patients a unique perspective by being trained to read and analyze diagnostic tests, and then provide recommendations on essential nutritional care.
However, be aware that your involvement may not sit well with the patient's medical doctors. Those doctors are tied to strict guidelines for standards of care, and many have simply not received adequate training to understand nutrition and supplementation for cancer patients. Most of the time, my patients are told to stop all nutritional treatment at their first oncology appointment.
I don't believe a person is ever completely cured of cancer. Even when deemed in "remission," they must continually work on keeping their body as healthy as possible to keep cancer cells from multiplying. It takes dedication and determination not only to follow a healthy nutritional regimen, but also to stand up to disapproving medical doctors who can't recommend that nutritional care should be part of the recovery. It helps if chiropractors like you are willing to support the patient as they work to achieve their goals.
A Case Study: Breast Cancer
When I first met my patient back in 1995, I knew she had the dedication and determination needed to succeed. Three weeks prior, the 50-year-old had discovered a mass in her left breast. It was the size of a small egg (approximately 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm), and appeared to be well-encapsulated and movable. She also had experienced secretions from both breasts off and on for the previous seven months and clear secretions between her cycles for a year. She was overweight at 5'5" and 195 lbs, and suffered from high blood pressure ranging from 140-160/90. She also had an increased heart rate, averaging 84 beats per minute.
After hearing her presenting symptoms, I was very concerned and recommended she see a medical doctor to have the mass completely removed. Unlike biopsies, which can potentially spread cancerous cells, removing the entire mass often allows it to remain encapsulated. Once removed, the mass can then be analyzed to determine if it is in fact cancerous.
However, the patient was adamant that she wanted to try a natural approach before having surgery. What would happen if she said this to an oncologist? I've had many patients be dismissed by medical doctors for refusing the recommended mammogram, biopsy, chemotherapy or radiation. Remember, it is not your job to push patients into doing procedures they are against; you are there to help them get well.
That being said, in cancer situations, time is short. Therefore, it's imperative to use aggressive nutritional therapy to allow the body to become healthier and regain the ability to combat cancerous cells. Here's how I proceeded:
My patient's initial round of testing revealed a few problems. She had high cholesterol, significantly low thyroid function (T4 Thyroxine, T3 Uptake and Free T7), mild anemia (hemoglobin, hematocrit, MCV, MCHC, iron and ferritin) and a few other minor imbalances like low calcium and magnesium. The low thyroid and anemia will severely inhibit her body's immunity and allow for other problems to emerge like high cholesterol, which can rise as a protective measure for the heart. The good news is most of the blood markers that could indicate cancerous activity by showing inflammatory processes, cell destruction, weakened immunity, etc. (e.g., LDH, creatine kinase, AK phosphatase, ferritin, ESR and uric acid) were optimal.
Vitamin Recommendations (Based on Test Findings)
Retesting to Gauge Improvement
After taking the vitamins and following the recommended diet for a little more than two months, the patient noted improved digestion, more energy, no breast secretions and more regular/less painful periods. Her retesting also showed improvement.
The vitamins and diet were improving the patient's health. Her cholesterol dropped 30 points, overall thyroid function improved and anemia was getting better. I wanted her to continue with the vitamins and diet, and retest again in four months.
At the second recheck in March 1996, I added CA15-3 and CA27.29 onto her blood test. While these tests are not diagnostic for cancer, they can help indicate / monitor the activity and growth of potentially cancerous cells.8-9 At this time, the CA15-3 was 17.3 (healthy range: 0.0-22.0; clinical range: 0.0-31.0) and the CA27.29 (the new FDA-approved breast cancer tumor marker) was 16.7 (healthy range: 0.0-10.0; clinical range: 0.0-38.6). At the time, the patient noted even more energy, still no breast secretions, and felt that the left breast mass had reduced in size.
We rechecked the CA15-3 in September 1996 and the marker had dropped to 14.7. At this time the patient also decided that surgical removal of the tumor was a good option and had surgery about a week later. Doctors wanted her to do a biopsy; however, she was insistent, and they ultimately agreed to remove the entire mass.
Interestingly, around this time the patient was also finally able to relocate her office at work. She had previously worked in a closed room in the building's basement, an area commonly sprayed with pesticides to keep the bugs out. She stated that she "always felt that I needed to get our of the basement air." Since pesticides are known carcinogens, this was a great move.
After analyzing the mass, the lab reported the patient's tumor as cancerous. It was an infiltrating and intraductal, well-differentiated adenocarcinoma of the breast, and measured 4 x 3.5 x 3 cm. Fortunately, it did not involve the surrounding lymph nodes. The intraductal component had foci of comedo-type adenocarcinoma, and the tumor did extend to some of the resection margins.
A tumor marker recheck in October 1996 put the CA15-3 at 17.7 and the CA27.29 was tested in January 1997, resulting in a reduced 12.4. By April 1998, she was looking great and had dropped 25 lbs. Her tumor markers went up and down slightly over the next few years, averaging about 20.1, but by 1999, despite not doing chemo or radiation as recommended by oncologists, the cancer had not returned.
The patient continued taking her vitamins as recommended, and retested her blood and hair every six months to a year to monitor her progress. Her ankles no longer swell, she doesn't crave sweets, is not as stiff and sore in the mornings, and has much more energy. Today, this patient remains in excellent health with no cancer recurrences since starting to follow the vitamins and dietary recommendations 18 years ago.
In the past 30 years, I've been blessed to have many hundreds of patients suffering from various forms of cancer seek my assistance. I've seen astounding results, such as a 70-year-old with uterine and cervical cancer whose tumor disappeared without chemotherapy and has not returned in the past five years; a 46-year-old who came in after a recurrence of lymphoma and has now been medically in remission for nine years; and a woman who was given eight years to live if she did chemo and radiation, but refused both and is now in excellent health six years later.
There are also stories such as a 60-year-old diagnosed with very aggressive small-cell lung carcinoma after a bout with breast cancer. The median survival time for these patients is just 20 months with traditional treatment methods. She refused chemotherapy and radiation, and sought nutritional treatment, maintaining a good quality of life until her death three and a half years later. How would her last few years been spent if she battled not only the cancer, but also the effects of chemo and radiation?
Whether cancerous cells appear in the breast, kidneys, liver, prostate, lymph nodes, etc., the testing procedures remain the same. Unlike oncologists who treat patients until remission, we as chiropractors can offer a unique service by continuing to provide testing and nutritional counseling for these patients long after they are deemed "cured" by the medical community. This will help ensure patients stay healthy enough for their bodies to continue effectively fighting off cancerous cell activity.
Second Blood Analysis:
Tumor Marker Sidebar:
Dr. Van D. Merkle, president of Science Based Nutrition, is a diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Chiropractic Internists. He is also a diplomate of the recently formed Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition and currently serves as vice president. Dr. Merkle has practiced in the Dayton, Ohio area for more than 25 years, and hosted the call-in radio talk show "Back To Health, Your Guide to Better Living" since 1995.