Dear Mr. Senator:
Last night, I caught the end of the discussion on cancer research
on C-SPAN. There are some comments and suggestions I would
like to make, but they may be long . . . but, I believe, important.
First, however, I would like to offer my personal appreciation
for the question you asked at the end on spontaneous remissions,
events that occur with encouraging frequency and little scientific
notice although the Noetic Sciences Society and a few individuals
here and there take the matter seriously. It is, for the most
part, a challenge to science because the stage that is set
prior to the remission is generally subjective and spiritual,
not quantifiable. It was touching to me that you raised the
issue, and this prompts me to write at length on other issues.
Second, you noted, I hope with sincere concern, that spending
on military research and development in the last two years
exceeded the total of spending on health research, I believe
you were saying for the entire 20th century. If this is true
or even remotely close to the truth, it really behooves us
to examine the values that guide our investments, for R&D
are ostensibly investments in future outcomes.
Third, the issue of research on cancer or any other disease
requires a really hard examination of where we have been, where
we are and why, and where we wish to be. If you are serious,
and I pray you are, then there has been nothing remotely resembling
an honest effort to find a cure for cancer. You implied, if
I understood you correctly, that throwing a few billion dollars
at a problem ought to solve it. This presupposes that the money
will be spent well rather than invested in future job security
and projects that tend to buoy up the status quo rather than
As it stands today, a person who is diagnosed with cancer or
even one who has a history of cancer in the family is precipitated
into fear by the very mention of the "C" word. So,
the first rather cynical question to be posed is why a person
who has cancer is unaware of the existence of the disease and
yet afraid of something as silent as cancer. What I am saying
is that arthritis or even a splinter in the finger is more
painful than most early cancers and yet people are more afraid
of cancer. Why? I propose that it is not because cancer is
the most dangerous disease but that huge amounts of money have
been spent on generating the fear. As is easily seen by the
anthrax scare, this level of terror tends to result in submission
to measures that under normal circumstances would not be acceptable.
At the end of my email, I hope to have made a case that the
separation between the military, the military-industrial complex,
the pharmaceutical companies and medicine is thin, far too
thin to work in the highest interests of the patient.
At present, a patient with cancer will generally be given a
choice of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation or some combination
of these three mainstream offerings. Despite hundreds of studies,
the specialists recommending these treatments will probably
not suggest that any other remedial measures might enhance
outcome; and because these people are also trained to keep
patients in the system, they will generally not provide any
positive commentary on other options a patient and his or her
family might consider.
Why is this the case?
Partly, the issue is ignorance. In the eight or more years
that doctors are crammed full of knowledge, they are never
taught nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, guided visualization,
or any of dozens of other modalities that are absolutely relevant
to health and healing. While this is the case in most American
universities, it is not as much true in third world countries,
such as Sri Lanka, nor even Germany where medical students
often spend their summers in acupuncture or homeopathic colleges.
What we have today is a virtual monopoly on what is called
scientific medicine, but is it scientific and does it work?
According to the statement made by the doctor, there is success
treating leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and testicular cancer.
This is more or less consistent with the findings of Dr. Ulrich
Abel of Heidelberg University whose work has been extensively
reported in the popular press in Europe as well as the alternative
press globally though many years ago Scientific American reported
similarly low success rates for cancer.
The picture is clear: billions of dollars are spent on research,
even more billions are spent on treatments that are at best
questionable, and serious efforts to develop more effective
protocols are ignored, denigrated, or left unfunded.
My interest is less in funding than the enormous sociological
The most heinous of all is when children are forced into conventional
treatments that have no real promise of success. When their
parents try to take these children abroad, they are threatened
with loss of custody, child abuse, and a host of other intolerable
consequences for actions that are totally conscionable, responsible,
The news occasionally reports such cases, but I know several
first hand. I want to talk about one of these because it paints
a picture that is so shocking that we really need to look ourselves
squarely in the mirror to ask whether we, as Americans, like
what we see.
The case in question involved a child whose father gained custody
of her in a divorce, based mainly on the argument that the
mother had another child by a previous partner and therefore
the father could have the second child. She was severely abused
and the social worker told her that if she ever told anyone
else what she had told the social worker, her father would
be sent to prison. In her early teens, the mother finally got
custody, only to learn that her daughter had brain cancer.
At this point, the doctor said, "If you don't have surgery
and radiation, your mother will go to jail." No child
should ever have to be between such a rock and a hard place.
The treatments, which never did have any real chance of success,
failed. I met this girl when she was told she had less than
a week to live, and I still have tears every time I think of
her. At this point, her mother had what is called in the natural
healing community "the golden handshake." This means
the institutions have done everything "they could" and
given up; the patient is then free to explore alternatives
without fear of reprisal by doctors and social workers.
The most heart-breaking part of this account, which unfortunately
is typical, is that there is a very good possibility that the
girl's life might have been saved by an untested, unproven,
or experimental protocol—and it was 100% certain that
her life would not be saved by conventional medicine.
I want to leave this story at this point and go to the larger
picture which is that countless alternatives that are freer
of side effects exist, and many of them are not as unproven
as detractors would have doctors, politicians, and the
public believe. In our xenophobia, we tend to ignore studies
done in foreign countries, but treatments such as Iscador,
mentioned only because Suzanne Somers drew attention to
it when she chose it over chemotherapy, are not lacking
Interesting, too, we have a double standard. Whereas, it is
perfectly legal for someone such as Ms. Somers to go to the
Lukas Klinik for Iscador, it would not have been legal for
the mother of the little girl with brain cancer to have taken
her child out of the country for such treatment. While I am
sure the laws that make this difficult or impossible are intended
to protect people from the disappointments of false hope, there
are no comparable laws protecting the public from the false
claims made for the efficacy of conventional treatments.
I will give one case in point and leave the rest to others.
When a dear friend of mine decided to try Herceptin, I did
extensive research on the Internet and found that some 900+
women had been involved in a six-month study. Only one person
survived beyond the six-month trial, but the drug was approved
because it "represented a promising new technology." My
friend died, and she died an agonizing death as did the next
person I know who was similarly convinced to try Herceptin.
While there could be arguments that in the interest of science,
such experiments and approvals are necessary, there might be
a middle ground to explore. For instance, since the initial
trials were not promising for the patient, there could perhaps
be some sort of informed consent to use a drug that is only
approved for experimental use in ongoing trials. Personally,
I agree that there are promising technologies on the horizon,
but the patient and public should not be confused by blurry
boundaries between promising ideas and actual results.
This is, in fact, the case. Chemotherapy is an approach that
almost never works. The European studies suggest that it has
a 1% success rate, this exclusively with "non-organ cancers," i.e.
precisely the leukemias and non-Hodgkins lymphoma referred
to by the doctor. It is hence largely a hoax, but one that
is protected by various approvals and consensus among oncologists
who are not, for the most part, looking seriously at outcomes.
Insurance companies tell me there is a zero percent cure rate
The picture is bleaker even than this. There is a persistent
and consistent effort to suppress alternative treatment.
The notion that one system of medicine is entitled to monopoly
status because it best represents science is flawed to
begin with because there are many ways to heal that do
not involve anything more than prayers that are answered.
These will never be properly researched unless there is
a clear separation between patents and medicines.
The way "scientific medicine" is structured, all
approved substances must meet the rigorous demands of science.
In truth, science has been perverted to serve the patent holders
rather than the patients. In this, I am saying two things:
first, in order to patent something, one must focus exclusively
on the action of a single substance and attribute all results
to that and nothing else. If a substance held this kind of
power, it would be worthy of recognition, but the assumption
is that carrot juice and prayer played no part in the outcome;
and this is rarely the case. Second, because patents expire,
it is necessary to reinvent miracles and "promising new
technologies" every 20 years. The result is that there
is no longer anything remotely resembling traditional medicine
that benefits by an approval process.
To overcome this, there must be a return to pure science and
pure research. Pure science is impossible without pure research
and pure research is impossible without significant funding
by governmental or non-profit organizations who renounce the
possibility of benefiting by the outcome.
At a party at the home of a famous TV anchorman, a friend of
mine asked the CEO of a pharmaceutical company what he would
do if there were an $8 cure for cancer. He said, "Make
sure it never gets to market." Another friend of mine
had a gun stuck in his ribs and was told to stay away from
Is this America? I believe strongly in our Constitution and
in the principles of democracy. I believe in the people, in
the rights of individuals, in freedom and choice, and in the
possibilities that exist if we honor our obligation to work
in the highest interest of the people and forego the temptations
to profit by undeserved monopolies.
In theory, a patent is a monopoly. It affords the patent owner
the exclusive right to profit by something in which he has
invested. In an ideal world, the opportunity to recoup the
investment is awarded and protected, but if the world is not
ideal, patents become a kind of tyranny and basis for coercion
and domination rather than healing. This is the present situation.
Taking a really broad view of the history of medicine, we will
see that there has always been allopathic medicine and
the alternative or natural medicine. Hippocrates told his
students that if they were interested in surgery, they
should follow the army because that is where surgery is
practiced. Is it any wonder that when the borderlines between
the military-industrial complex and medicine are eroded
that surgery becomes the popular solution it is today?
Is it any wonder that such invasive procedures are performed
much more often in the country with the largest investment
in military and perhaps the country with the worst health
care system of any developed country?
To solve the problem, one has to think outside the box. Grants
always follow a format. Submit a proposal for a variation of
something that is already well known and the grant will be
approved, maybe not funded, but approved. Submit a grant for
something no one has thought of before and be prepared not
only to be refused but perhaps derided for eccentricity rather
than praised for originality.
On one of my web sites, I have proposed that the government
itself establish five teaching hospitals of integrative medicine
in the north (Minnesota), south (Texas), east (Vermont), west
(Oregon or Idaho), and center (Iowa?) In these fully funded
institutions, all alternatives would be explored without reference
to their profitability or patentability but merely to their
efficacy. No effort would be made to rely on a single modality
to see whether it and it alone works; rather, every effort
would be made to meet all the needs of every patient: wholesome
organic food and juices, processing of emotional issues and
fears, and treatment for the disease itself. Every patient
would be assigned a coordinator, someone conversant with all
the modalities and their probable relevance to the patient
and the patient's condition. The coordinator would help the
patient to understand the options and make choices, but would
not make the choices for the patient. In the event of communication
glitches or personality conflicts, the coordinator would act
the patient's representative and advocate. The patient would
choose the treatments he or she wanted, with the full understanding
that this is a personal choice and that something else can
be tried if this fails.
I understand the lobbying and pressures
on elected officials. I only wish that constituents were as
influential as lobbyists. I understand the position of the
pharmaceutical and health care industries. It is a pity that
our social consciences are not refined to the point that the
only concern is with the patient.
My experience as a medical philosopher is that valuable traditions
of healing are lost when greed supplants reference to outcome.
To get where it is today, modern medicine has to rely heavily
on "progress," a word coded in inferences and innuendo.
Progress is good, tradition is obsolete if not pure bunk. Huge
amounts of money are spent to create this appearance, but it
is merely a Madison Avenue conjuration. People with no experience
with protocols design ad copy to promote the images of happier
and healthier people, people who in reality suffer from countless
side effects and at least 100,000 iatrogenic deaths per year.
My concern is that with the events of 9/11 and what I have
elsewhere called the disembowelment of Congress, no serious
progress will be made in health care. The anthrax scare, no
doubt invented by our own military-industrial complex, portends
nothing short of full blown horror for the public.
I understand that mandatory inoculation is a public health
issue for smallpox, but it is not a public health issue for
anthrax. Therefore, Congress needs to start thinking clearly
and holding the line voluntarily so as to avoid the perception
of collusion with those who are inspired by evil. Enlightened
health care is needed, but it does not exist, and it will not
exist in this country unless some freedom is preserved.
Returning, however, to cancer research, I think you will find
that everyone who ever had anything promising to offer was
either destroyed or forced to expatriate in order to carry
forward the commitment to health and healing. This is a serious
blemish on our civil rights record as well as our status as
a leader in the alleged free world.
If one looks at the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books and
papers on alternative cancer treatment, one finds success rates
of approximately 75-80% with modalities that belong to the
public domain. These are our heritage and our rightful inheritance.
They constitute the fruits of the labors of dedicated doctors,
scientists, herbalists, and healers who for centuries have
served humanity; and yet their gifts are not readily available
because of the politics of avarice.
I would like to play a constructive role in shifting this impasse.
I hope you and your colleagues on The Hill will do the same.
Please feel free to copy this letter and send
it to your elected representatives.
A list of senators by state can be found on http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm