One of the deadliest, un-curable, and common disease, which our nation is plagued with, is cancer. Cancer accounts for one out of four deaths in the United States (Elliot). There are two fields of information concerning this disease, the traditional medical routine of radiation and chemotherapy; and there is also the alternative use of shark cartilage. Due to the unsuccessful results of medical treatments alone, I believe that alternative forms of treatment will become more popular and accepted in the medical world. Upon this acceptance the combination of alternative and medical treatments will over come the cancerous tyrant. This paper is going to take you through the diagnosis, treatment, investigations, and healing of a fictitious character, Amy and her husband Adam.
Amy has gone to her family doctor for an annual checkup, the doctor suspects cancer, so blood work is taken. The results announce that she in fact is in the thirty-three percentile of woman who the American Cancer Society states will be diagnosed with cancer. Amy’s doctor informs her of the treatment, which she will undergo; surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy. No other option is given, so Amy consents. In preparing for this battle against cancer, Amy and her husband begin to read about the therapy she will undergo. She found that the article “Whatever it Takes” reported the following, ” David Rosenthal, an MD and president of the American Cancer Society, reported that overall cancer mortality rates had decreased an average of 0.
5% each year since 1991… (Elliot) ” This was a little encouraging to Amy. She thought, ” I guess medical technology has found a way to begin increasing the mortality rate of cancer patients.” While Amy was at the library obtaining information concerning her treatment, she noticed books in a section entitled ” Alternative Medicine.” She did not approach the section because she had not really heard much about these types of treatments and, quite frankly, they frightened her. She perceived them to be barbaric and untraditional. The first step to Amy’s fight against cancer was removing the cancerous tumor with surgery. Once the tumor was removed she began her first treatment of radiation.
The University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center’s website OncoLink, describes radiation as “a type of high energy that comes from special machines (i. e. X-ray machines) or radioactive sources. When used at high doses radiation can destroy cells or keep them from growing or dividing.” (“What”). Radiation treatments may be given externally or internally, most patients receive external treatments. Amy received her treatment in this manner.
The radiation was given to a defined area through a machine that directed the high-energy rays or particles where the cancer cells exist and the surrounding normal tissue. Amy received this treatment once a day Monday through Friday for seven weeks. Amy was not admitted to the hospital but merely came for the treatment and left when it was completed. Radiation can be applied internally for a higher concentration on a specific area.
In this type of treatment, a tube or wire would have been used to administer the radiation to Amy. If Amy had to undergo this type of radiation treatment she would have been admitted into the hospital for three to seven days. The dosage for both radiation treatments is determined by complex calculations in which the size, the location and the severity of the tumor are factored into. (“What”). Amy’s doctor told her, ” The reason that radiation works well is because cancer cells grow and divided more rapidly than normal cells, the treatment works best against these rapidly developing cells.” However, SOURCE 12 states, ” The main disadvantages to radiation may outweigh its advantages in some cases.”Radiation destroys cancerous cells but can damage healthy ones as well.” (Mond i).
Due to the seriousness of her cancer, phase two is implements, which is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is “the use of medication or chemicals with cancer-fighting abilities.” (“What”). Chemo can be administered in five different ways, Oncolink lists these as the following: “intravenous, oral, intramuscular, intrathecal, and intraperitoneal. (“What”) ” Intravenous is the most common chemotherapy method and is the method used for Amy.
When Amy receives this treatment a small plastic needle is placed into one of her veins in her lower arm. The chemo then flows from the IV bottle / bag and proceeds to flow throughout her bloodstream. The Chemotherapy helps Amy by interfering with her cells growth and multiplication. This phase of Amy’s treatment is what causes her the most pain. The chemo, similar to radiation, damages her normal cells as well as her cancerous cells. Amy’s non-cancerous cells include her hair follicles, her cells in the gastrointestinal tract, and her bone marrow.
The side effects which she experiences from this treatment include the loss of her hair, mouth sores, difficulty in swallowing, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, infection, anemia, and increase of bleeding (“What”). Amy had picked up a biography of a man named Joe Haley at the library prior to her first treatment and began to read it while re-cooperating from the first does of this powerful drug. Joe was a man with cancer much like herself and she read the section that discussed his chemo treatment. It said, “Ironically, it wasn’t the cancer that wreaked havoc on his health – the treatment did. ‘He had no symptoms from the disease at first. All the side effects came from going to doctors,’ says David Van Echo, his oncologist at the University of Maryland-Baltimore.
Of course with out chemotherapy, Haley would have died. But with it, he has wasted away from fevers, nausea, and fatigue.” (Sobel) As Amy continued her treatments of chemotherapy to save her life she found herself dwindling away just as Haley’s oncologist had found him suffering from his treatments. However, unaware of any alternatives, Amy accepted these side effects as a way to overcome her cancer and continued with her treatments as her doctors instructed. As her treatments continued and the side effects of the chemo began to destroy her body she asked herself, ” Why is my health failing when I am doing everything the doctor’s are telling me to do?” What Amy was experiencing is explained in an article entitled “Cancer Treatments: Today and Tomorrow.”Intensive chemotherapy has undesirable and potentially dangerous side effects, especially the suppression of a patient’s immune system, because healthy white blood cells are killed along with the cancer cells. This makes the patient more susceptible to serious infections.
(Simone) ” As her treatment dosages began to increase and some of her vital organs began to fail her, her doctors approached her and Adam. They said, ” We are sorry to say this but there is nothing left for us to do. We have given you the largest amount of chemotherapy that your weak body can handle and your cancer is still thriving. We think it best at this point to allow you to return home to rest in a comfortable atmosphere.” What Amy heard was, ” With all our technology and research we do not know how to heal you. We give up.
Go home and try to enjoy the remainder of your days on this earth.” What happened to Amy? And why didn’t Chemotherapy work for her? The article “Cancer Treatments: Today and Tomorrow” answers these questions, “Chemotherapy is nonspecific; that is, the anti-cancer drug that is used for treatment does not distinguish among healthy and cancerous cells. As a result, one can only administer so much of an anti-cancer drug before it becomes toxic to the normal tissues.” The treatment, which was to defeat her cancer, was actually defeating her. Amy returned home under the care of her loving husband, Adam. The doctor’s provided no other aid or advise for the fight of her life besides, ” drink plenty of liquids, rest, and enjoy each day.” Amy and her husband were not going to give up so easily as her doctors were willing to do.
Amy recalled the section of Alternative treatments, which she saw in the library and at the beginning had ignored. She told her husband of it and he went and checked out almost every book having to do with cancer. As they searched the vast amount of information, they tried to find something that could help Amy recover from her deathbed. They repeatedly came across books that mentioned a substance known as shark cartilage. Neither of them had ever heard of this treatment and were slightly skeptical. To further their investigation of this they resorted to the use of the Internet.
They found an address of a website with critical information concerning shark cartilage: skeptic. com / shark . html. Adam read aloud a quote which caught his attention quickly, “‘ Because there are so many cancer victims who have been advised, after undergoing ‘conventional’ treatments – surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy – that there is nothing more conventional medicine can do for them, it is clear that research into alternative approaches, such as shark cartilage, should be explored. Indeed, given the fact that shark cartilage has no toxic side effects, those who have been advised that conventional medicine can do nothing more to help them have little to lose by exploring cartilage as an alternative.’ (Shark).” Hearing this quote sparked some knew-found hope in Amy and Adam.
They were determined to find more information about this shark cartilage; what it was, and how it will aid in Amy’s healing process. Amy and Adam are among the fifty-percentile of cancer patients who turn to unorthodox treatments (Podolsky). Amy and Adam discovered that shark cartilage “is tissue from a shark. Cartilage, a translucent elastic tissue, composes most of the skeleton of embryonic and very young vertebrates and, through a process of calcification, is transformed into bones, which make up the fully developed skeletal system. (Shark) ” The couple was interested in how these “bones” could aid in healing and curing Amy of her cancer. As they continued to read they discovered their answer.
” Shark cartilage contains a substance that significantly inhibits the development of blood vessels that nourish solid tumors, thereby limiting tumor growth… Medical researchers of Harvard University Medical School found that it could inhibit angiogenesis – the development of tumor-based cancer… (Shark).” All this information sounded too good to be true to the ears of Amy and Adam so they continued their researched. They wanted to know if this substance actually worked.
The found there answer in Green’s article. It states “Alternative Medicine practitioners who use shark cartilage as a treatments for cancer claim to have successfully treated patients in clinics in Tijuana, Costa Rica and Panama. They claim that more than 3, 000 cancer patients in the US are currently taking shark cartilage. (Green) ” The results of William Lane’s experiment with shark cartilage against cancer encouraged the couple as well; ” Of the original 29 terminal patients nine (31 percent) died of cancer, all within the first 17 weeks; non have died of cancer since; six others have died of accidents, heart failure, or other natural causes; 14 (48 percent) are completely well and cancer free after 34 months (almost three years) as of June 15, 1995. (Shark) ” With this new information Amy and Adam were ready to try this treatment. Amy contacted her local health food store that carried this shark cartilage.
When inquiring about the substance she was given the name of a nutritional doctor who dealt with this type of cancer treatment. Amy contacted and met with the doctor. Within their appointment the doctor encouraged Amy and Adam that she was doing something good for her body. He also advised Amy to take 60 gm/ day of the cartilage for 16 weeks. After the 16 weeks ended she was then advised to remain on a maintenance dose of 20 gm / day . Almost three years after being diagnosed with terminal cancer Amy revisited her medical doctor for a final checkup.
To her joy and the doctor’s amazement, Amy was cancer free. Amy had fought off the grasp of death with alternative medicine. “‘The focus of Western Medicine has always been an pathology,’ says psycho-oncologist Stephen Hersh, director of the Medical Illness Counseling Center in Chevy Chase, ‘to give the disease a bad name, focus on it as an enemy, cut it out, blast it away, poison it with chemicals.’ (Elliot) ” In the past few years Americans have been turning away from this traditional treatment of illnesses just as Amy had. They are beginning to become more aware that there is another way to fight off sickness. “One out of three Americans use alternative medicine at least once a year, according to a Harvard School of Medicine Survey. (Day) ” Although medical technology is expected to contain answers and cures for every disease, Americans are realizing that this is not the case.
“Sometimes they say Western Medicine has failed them, but more often the reason is that the technology doesn’t offer them enough – enough protection against pain or medicines side effects, enough boosts to their own immune defenses, enough hope. (Elliot) ” Not only are Americans becoming more aware of the benefits which nature provides, but the members of the medical world are as well. “The national Cancer Institute (NCI), believes cancer treatments can be found in nature (Day).” This is a breakthrough for the medical world; a place, which only a few years ago denied any importance in natural products. “At a growing number of premier hospitals treatments long scoffed at by mainstream doctors as ‘alternative medicine’ are now being offered to cancer patients.
(Podolsky) ” With the traditional medical treatment “in our country alone 600, 000 patients die from cancer each year. (Lane) ” With this death toll so high it is almost necessary for the medical doctors to turn to an alternative. They do not necessarily have to ignore all the knowledge gained during their extensive schooling, but simply combined the two treatments. Each drug that we have presently was originally derived from a natural source. Through technology and research man was able to synthesize it and create a drug for specific uses. Through the system ization some of the natural healing elements of the plant were lost and thus we ended up with a less effective drug.
Medical research centers across the nation are beginning to join with alternative researchers to devise a way to develop joint trials for a variety of products to be used in the future. “The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and OAN are embarking on some joint trials, including one on shark cartilage… (Elliot) ” As this cooperation continues more doctors will become educated in the uses of natural products and as a result, their patients will as well. Grant money is one of the major advantages that the alternative research centers are experiencing from the newly formed bond with medical research companies. In William Lane’s 1984 research and experimentation with shark cartilage he was financing his own research, thus he was unable to conduct a state-of-the-art testing environment. As this alternative to clinical treatments of cancer began to show success and grow in popularity the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to take interest in Lane’s work.
With this governmental group conducting studies of this cancer treatment money is no longer a limitation for this research. Can alternative medicine and traditional treatments of cancer co-exist in the future? The answer is a positive and encouraging yes. Hospitals are presently suggesting alternative treatments under the care of their physicians. Opportunities for medical doctors to be introduced to these alternative, untraditional treatments are becoming more frequent. Elliot describes one such opportunity in her article, ” Increasingly, medical schools are offering weeklong seminars on herbs, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and some of the mind-body methods-Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and UCLA all do…
(Elliot) ” This is encouraging news to individuals and cancer survivors such as Amy. Many lives are and will be saved as more cancer victims are informed of treatments that have no side effects or harmful substances that will destroy their bodies. Elaine, a cancer patient, was informed of the advantages to the use of the combination of traditional and alternative medicine. “Elaine realized she needed Western technology to survive, but other methods to withstand the toxicity and side effects of radiation. (Elliot) ” Our children may no longer hear that cancer is responsible for one-out-of-four deaths in the United States; but rather the news that alternative and traditional treatments, together, have tamed the terrible tyrant.