Recently there has been a firestorm around the case of “Cassandra C.”, the 17-year-old who was taken from her mother and home and forced by a state ruling to undergo chemotherapy for her Hodgkin’s lymphoma that she didn’t want.
You can read some of Cassandra’s version of the story HERE, which includes the details of her being taken from her mother and strapped down to receive her unwanted chemotherapy treatments. As a mother of soon to be three daughters and a natural Hodgkin’s survivor of 6 years now, this particular statement from her brought me to tears:
“After a week, they decided to force chemotherapy on me. I should have had the right to say no, but I didn’t. I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated. I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated.”
So much of this story has sickened me, but if you think of the hard facts of what happened here- an almost legal (Cassandra will be 18 in September) American citizen being removed from her home and care of her mother, forced to receive a toxic substance into her body, and then of course what most don’t think about- be given the bill for tens of thousands of dollars for pharmaceutical treatment she didn’t even want in the first place- it doesn’t even seem like America does it?
And Then There’s the Media….
The mainstream media has touted this as heroic and a victory for Cassandra’s future, but there are many of us who oppose this because we know that there are other options than conventional chemotherapy and radiation. We also know the reality of cancer and chemotherapy, mostly from first hand experience with a loved one or ourselves. I will say that there are always cases where although chemo does help initially, it permanently effects the immune system resulting often in a recurrence of the same cancer or a secondary cancer. There are also other side effects- in the case of Hodgkin’s specifically I know of, affecting the heart, fertility, and white blood cell count permanently.
Once someone receives conventional treatment and goes into “remission,” in the large majority of cases, little is done to support the body in what it needs to restore itself from the toxic onslaught of pharmaceutical chemicals. This should be done or at least encouraged by oncologists in the manner of organic plant-based nutrition, detox, and lifestyle changes. But it’s not, primarily because medical oncologists have only a few methods of treatment in their tool box: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation (and to their credit a few “clinical studies” that have shown success but can only be utilized after the other three have failed or your cancer isn’t considered treatable with the others.)
The media, in their research for their articles and news reports most likely consult the major cancer organizations out there which all stand by (and are influenced financially by) the American Medical Association and American Cancer Society. These two groups only accept that cancer is curable through pharmaceutical chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery per FDA definition. Their statistics for number of patients “cured” of Hodgkin’s lymphoma with chemotherapy and radiation are in the 85-90% range. Remember that all this means is that the patient lived 5 years. If they still had cancer at that mark, they still would be considered a success even if they were on their death bed or had a secondary cancer. If they’re alive, they are considered a success and survivor, no matter their current health.
My Alternative Hodgkin’s Story….
When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s in 2008 it was my husband who felt initially uneasy about the only option I was given from my oncologist: 6 rounds of R-CHOP chemotherapy and most likely radiation to follow. That same visit we also learned about my stage of lymphoma (Stage 2- cancer activity on both sides of my body- a walnut sized tumor in my neck and lemon sized tumor in my armpit,) and information about how my sub-type of Hodgkin’s behaved.
We also learned I was “lucky” and had “the good kind of cancer” because of its success rate (see statistics above)- but even with that knowledge were rushed into a tour of the chemotherapy room where I would receive my treatment, the wig shop because I would lose my hair, and was given a referral to a fertility specialist because I would want to look into freezing either my eggs or my husband and my fertilized embryos due the likelihood of infertility after treatment. We were also asked that same day to schedule my appointment to have the port inserted in my chest where I would receive my chemo treatments for the next 3-4 months.
We went home that afternoon and my husband dropped the bomb on me that he had a very firm impression and conviction that he didn’t want me to undergo the treatment that was being offered. I was initially angered by his reaction because I was scared to death! I just wanted this cancer out of me and to move on with my life.
But I had to agree with him on the basis that the possibility of infertility scared me almost more than the cancer itself. This is where I can identify with Cassandra so intimately.
The treatment scared me more than the cancer.
I personally did not know anything about alternative treatments at the time of my diagnosis. My husband initially just began searching for other options besides chemotherapy which naturally led us down the path of exploring alternative and natural methods to heal cancer.
Cassandra stated in her interview with the Associated Press that it disgusts her to have “such toxic harmful drugs” in her body and she’d like to explore alternative treatments:
“I always tell people I do want treatment for my cancer, I just don’t believe in the chemotherapy,” wrote Cassandra. “I want something more natural, something that’s not drugs. If the court decided to let me go, I would look into natural remedies that would stop the growth of the cancer. I would take vitamins and remedies that fight inflammation. I would eat healthy and go to the gym, and I would still monitor the cancer with regular scans.”
After the Connecticut Supreme Court decision to take Cassandra from her home in order to force her to do chemotherapy, her mother, Jackie Fortin said “that as a single mom for the last 15 years she wouldn’t allow her daughter to die.” She said they want to explore alternative treatments that don’t include putting the “poison” of chemotherapy into her body.
Even the doctors admit that without treatment she would have had two years to live. Why couldn’t they have allowed her a reasonable amount of time to explore her treatment of choice?
“3 Months to Try Alternative Treatments”….
At first I was very much in disagreement with my husband’s idea to pursue an alternative treatment for my Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It wasn’t until I began my own research on alternative treatments and also drew from my own experience with relatives who had suffered extremely negative effects from chemotherapy, that I decided to give my nontoxic nutritional protocol a chance. I knew that even if I didn’t do anything, I would have at least a year to live (which was stated as two years in Cassandra’s case,) so I figure why not try something that would help my body and not harm it at all- and in the best case scenario cure my cancer. I gave myself (and even had a new, agreeable oncologist who supported me) 3 months to try my alternative protocol.
I began my nontoxic protocol on November 4th, 2008. It was election day and to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I ate horribly my entire life and now I was going to be eating a mostly raw organic vegan diet, the Budwig mixture of organic cottage cheese and flax seed oil, and juicing vegetables. I also took close over 50 caplets or pills of vitamins and supplements such as Beta 1, 3-D Glucan. I also went through a series of detox protocols which you can read about HERE.
The key to pursuing alternative or natural, nontoxic cancer protocols responsibly is monitoring carefully and working closely with a supportive doctor who respects your choice in healing. If what you are doing isn’t showing improvement in your condition, you need to regroup, continue research, and discuss with your healing support system what your next steps are.
Remember that YOU are hiring your doctor to work alongside you and respect your wishes. YOU are paying THEM! If they disagree with your choice, find a new doctor.
Unfortunately in Cassandra’s case (they tried to seek a second opinion,) this right was taken from her and her mother by the state. All personal choice about Cassandra’s body was taken from them by the government.
There is still such hope in Cassandra’s story. She is young and in good health and can pursue an integrative approach to her treatment if she would be allowed. If her mother is granted visitation, together they can explore integrating nutrition and supplements to help counteract the side effects of the chemotherapy and also move forward with a diet and nutritional protocol that will help keep the cancer away once she finishes her treatment. I wouldn’t expect this from the hospital after reading this quote from Cassandra:
“The nurses and PCA’s have been nothing but nice to me,” wrote Cassandra. “They understand I am going through a difficult time and they do anything to make me feel better. My caseworkers from DCF have also gone out of their way to make me feel better and more like I am at home. Although bringing me ice cream sundaes, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, and buying me cute things once n a while does put a smile on my face and I do appreciate it, nothing can replace waking up to my cat in the morning in my own bed, with my mom cooking breakfast downstairs while I get ready for work.”
But perhaps things will change in the policy of allowing Cassandra and her mother to work alongside her doctors in handling her cancer care.
Natural Survivors…We DO Exist!
If my story isn’t enough to get you thinking about the efficacy of alternative cancer treatment, you can find hundreds of stories on the web of people who have cured much more aggressive cancers than Hodgkin’s lymphoma with natural therapies. This impressive list on Alternative Cancer Compass is a great place to start. ChrisBeatCancer.com also has video and text testimonies of many natural survivors.
You can also see my story on video HERE in my interview with Incredible Healing Journals.
The Truth About Cancer series also has a fantastic comprehensive compilation on everything you need to know about alternative therapies with interviews from natural survivors, leading medical doctors and experts in the field.
I would love to hear your comments below and have a healthy discussion around what is to be done about cases like this in the future. There is much to be learned from Cassandra’s case and perhaps some reasonable decisions can be made in future cases if we can get our stories of alternative treatment success to be told truthfully in the mainstream media.