It's bad enough when you are diagnosed with cancer. Later, when they tell you it's untreatable, you think you've heard the worst. But you would be wrong.
What you didn't know before is that on the sidelines waiting for just the right moment to move in are the ghouls and charlatans.
The first email, sent via the “contact” link on this blog, arrived a few weeks ago. It wasn't from a name I recognized, not someone who comments or had privately emailed me before.
There is a treatment, the writer said, at a private clinic in California that cures cancer with supervised fasting over several months of residence at their luxurious spa.
Since then, four or five more cancer cures have arrived via the blog email from people who are strangers to me. One of them provided a link to a professional-looking website (anyone can pay to have that done.) featuring a movie-star handsome man that uses protons they say results “in strong cure rates.”
Another uses cancer immunotherapy to achieve long-term remission for years, “and even decades.” The latest hot cancer "cure" is cannabis that, it is claimed, shrunk a teenager's cancer cells after chemo had failed.
And so on.
In April 2017, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration sent out letters to 14 companies telling them “to stop making the bogus claims or face possible seizures of their products and criminal prosecution.” From the Washington Post:
”The letters covered more than five dozen unapproved products that the companies said could prevent, treat or cure cancer, the FDA said. The items included pills, ointments, oils, drops, teas and diagnostic devices.”
That list doesn't begin to cover the types of quack treatments from swindlers preying on people at the worst moments of their lives. Wikipedia has a huge long list of a hundred or more unproven and disproven cancer cures.
Several websites publish a simple list of frequently used phrases that should alert anyone to phony cures:
• Treats all forms of cancer
• Miraculously kills cancer cells and tumors
• Shrinks malignant tumors
• Selectively kills cancer cells
• More effective than chemotherapy
• Attacks cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact
• Cures cancer
Another phrase charlatans commonly use – alternative – is particularly insidious because there is a real place for alternative treatment to complement legitimate cancer medications. The Mayo Clinic has a handy chart about that:
Let me be clear about “miracle” cures: if anything cured cancer, WE WOULD ALL KNOW ABOUT IT. It would not be a secret. Someone would already be rich and getting richer from it.
Cancer patients are desperate, hoping against hope that the diagnosis is wrong, that a different treatment will magically work, that someone has the secret ingredient to give them more days, months, years of life. These are not foreign concepts to me recently.
But make no mistake, the people who sell useless, sometimes dangerous, unproved treatments are evil, depraved and cruel. What they do is a form of faith healing (at least one uses real snake venom) tricked out as medicine and they make me hope there is a hell.