Chapter Three: New Doc on the Block
After having spent those eight months studying all of the material sent to me by The Committee for Freedom of Choice, I still was not completely convinced that this nutritional approach to the treatment of cancer would actually work.
I called my pharmacist friend, Steve Michaelis, and learned that Lawrence P. McDonald, M.D., in Atlanta, Georgia, was actively using this form of treatment. I did not know Larry McDonald at that time, but I knew of him. I knew that he was a member of the National Council of the John Birch Society and was a renowned urologist in Atlanta. (This was, of course, the same Rep. Lawrence P. McDonald, Member of Congress, who was on the KAL Flight 007 when it was shot down.) Steve Michaelis knew him very well. Steve called him to let him know that I would be calling.
When we finally talked, Larry could not have been nicer. We discussed at some length the program that he was using. My final question was, "Does it work?" Larry's reply to me was, "If it didn't work, I wouldn't be using it!"
While Larry certainly gave me a push in the right direction, my final decision did not come until I could answer the question, "If I had cancer, or my wife had cancer, or one of my children had cancer, how would I have this treated?" I realized that my answer was, "I'd go with nutritional therapy." It was at that point that I decided to treat my patients with the same method.
Several weeks before I had reached that decision, a very good friend of mine had asked me if I would be willing to give Laetrile to his sister-in-law. This was a hopeless case. The woman had cancer of the breast. In spite of, or maybe because of (depending on your point of view), all the surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that had been done to this woman, she had developed metastases to the liver, lungs and brain. She had been sent home from a Columbus, Ohio hospital and told that she would die within a week or two. She became my first patient. I wish I could say that she lived happily thereafter. She didn't. But she did live for about four months with a minimal amount of pain and suffering.
Within a week after I started treating this first patient, I began to get calls from cancer patients all around this part of the country asking if I would treat them. To this day, I have no idea how those people knew that I was involved in nutritional therapy. I never asked, and they never said.
Most of my first patients were those who had all of the surgery, radiation and chemotherapy they could tolerate and their tumors were still growing. I did for these patients the best that I knew to do.
My biggest problem at this time was understanding nutrition. In four years of medical school, one year of internship and one year of Family Practice residency, I had not had even one lecture on nutrition. How to use the Laetrile, the vitamins and the enzymes was no problem. How to instruct these people on proper nutrition was a big problem. If you know very little about nutrition yourself, how are you to instruct your patients? Simply giving them a diet sheet and saying, "Eat this, but don't eat that," doesn't work. In my years of working with patients with weight problems, I had learned that you never hand a patient a diet sheet. You must explain to the patient why it is necessary to eat certain things and to avoid other things. Once the patient understands this, you then have the patient's full cooperation.
After a few months of using this nutritional program, I was invited by The Committee for Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy (and I have no idea how they knew I was using nutritional therapy) to participate in some seminars on nutrition. It was hem that I first met Dr. Ernst Krebs. After listening to him for a few minutes, I realized that this man knew more about nutrition then anyone I had ever met.
To say that I presumed on this man's good nature would be the under-statement of the century. I told him what I was doing and how little I knew about nutrition.
These seminars usually lasted for three days and two nights. Dr. Krebs invited me to his room after the first evening's meeting. I was them until the wee hours of the morning and there again until the wee hours of the following morning learning about nutrition. When I think back on all of the stupid questions that I asked, I cannot understand why Dr. Krebs did not bodily pick me up and throw me out of his room. But, I was beginning to learn nutrition.
The second seminar was only a few weeks after the first. Betty was with me on this trip. We started somewhere in the Cleveland area and then flew to St. Louis to do another. Each night Betty, Dr. Krebs and I would get together in Dr. Krebs' room and my education of nutrition would continue.
These seminars went on for several more months. Through the great patience of Dr. Krebs, I became much more comfortable in trying to explain good nutrition to my patients.
When I started using this nutritional approach, I had no preconceived ideas of whether it would or would not work. I went into it with a completely open mind. I had decided to try it for one year. If it worked, fine, I would keep it up. If it didn't work, I wouldn't do it any more.
The first thing that I became aware of was that, within a matter of a few weeks, many of the patients were "feeling better." They had less pain and were eating better. While I was not sure that the treatment had added anything to the quantity of the life of these patients, I was sure that it had added something to the quality of their lives.
Some of the most beautiful letters that I have received have come from the relatives of patients who have died. They described how wonderful it was that their mother (or sister or brother or wife) had been free of pain and had been able to die comfortably at home rather than in a hospital.
That was encouraging, so I continued. Toward the end of that first year I noticed something else. I realized that a number of the patients that I had seen, who were supposed to die within a few months, were still alive. True, they still had their disease, but they were still alive! Some of them were now up and around and participating in family activities. Some were, once more, working in their flower beds. So, again, I continued.
At this point let me interrupt the story and define the terms "primary cancer" and "metastatic cancer." Primary cancer is cancer in one place in the body. The usual progression of this disease is that it spreads into other areas of the body. When the disease spreads from its primary site into other areas, it is called metastatic cancer.
Sorry about the interruption, but it was necessary. Now, back to our story.
My biggest surprise came at the end of my third year. At that time I sat down and went through all of the records of all of the patients that I had on this nutritional program. To my amazement, I found that not one single one of the patients that I had seen with primary cancer had developed metastatic disease. With "orthodox" treatment, by this time, most of them should have. This was when I knew that I had something!
You would think that a small town doctor working with a few cancer patients and a relatively new approach to the treatment of cancer, would be ignored and left alone. Right?