Alternative Cancer Treatment Works for Billy Best
“She could not walk, she had a stomach tube in her, she looked like a skeleton,” Billy says. “She had a tumor the size of a grapefruit on her face that they said they could not treat. I thought she was going to die right in front of us. I was like, whoa! So I told her all about what we had done. And her mom was shoving carrot juice and beet juice down that stomach tube and all this organic stuff and putting the Essiac tea down there and giving her shots of 714X. Eight months later, she’s still doing it, and she’s starting back to school and getting better and better. And eventually, they went back to get the scans at Dana-Farber. And the tumor was gone. That was about 10 years ago. She’s still fine.”
Like so many doctors who treat patients with conventional methods, Billy has also seen those who have used 714X and later died. “714X is not a miracle,” he says. “But I think those who take it, no matter what the outcome, have a better quality of life while they’re taking it. It doesn’t work for everyone.”
Ironically, through his own struggle, Billy has found his way. He went from the desperation of those days before he ran away to trying the alternatives to becoming a mentor for many. “All these people were calling up, and I was on the phone all the time,” he says. “Everyone wanted to know what happened to me. I just kept telling people I’d be dead on a beach in California if people hadn’t seen my story and been touched by it and called to share their experiences. So I felt like I needed to pass this along, too. This is my purpose in life now.”
And Sue’s as well. “It’s very energizing,” she says. “When you are able to help someone, there’s no money that you could pay me for an experience like that. No, sir.”
Integrative Cancer Therapies
People are often surprised to learn that a “house of science” such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute offers nontraditional therapies–acupuncture, massage, meditation, and others–to its patients. To those of us at Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies, however, providing such healing techniques within our walls makes perfect clinical and scientific sense.
A large body of research studies shows that supportive therapies can play a key role in reducing pain, alleviating stress, and, importantly, helping patients regain a sense of control over their lives. Americans spend an estimated $32 billion annually on nontraditional treatments; advocacy on the part of patients was the critical factor in Dana-Farber’s decision to make such therapies available.
Offering integrated therapies within our clinical setting helps us ensure that they’re administered safely and conveniently. Equally important, it gives us the opportunity to study them to learn which are useful and which are not, and why. Dana-Farber investigators are currently conducting formal clinical studies of the benefits of acupuncture, exercise, and the traditional Chinese relaxation technique qigong for different groups of cancer patients. By opening our doors to these and other techniques, we can educate patients about therapies that have proven effective.
In the not-too-distant past, patients were often reluctant to inform their doctor about nontraditional therapies they were using out of concern that the doctor would disapprove. As integrated therapies have gained acceptance within the medical community, that “code of silence” is disappearing. Patients are more likely to let their physicians know about their use of such therapies, and physicians are more likely to ask.
At Dana-Farber, we consider it our responsibility to treat the “whole patient.” It’s only natural that we make ourselves a home for any treatment able to improve patients’ emotional, as well as physical, well-being.
–David S. Rosenthal, MD, medical director, Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and former president of the American Cancer Society,
On August 12, the National Cancer Institute issued this statement: “The NCI’s [Best Case Series] Program review of the pertinent medical records, radiographic films, and pathology specimens of 17 cancer patients who reportedly received 714X has been completed. At this time the judgment is that there is insufficient information to justify NCI-initiated research on 714X as an anticancer therapy. The [Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine] is seeking authorization to solicit referral of other well-documented cases directly from U.S. cancer patients. If approved, such a solicitation will be posted on the OCCAM Web site, .”