When Matthew as 5 years old, he was diagnosed with an astrocytoma located in his brain stem. Here in Michigan we were told surgery was not an option and that Matthew had 18 months to 2 years to live. After not accepting this prognosis, my husband and I searched for a doctor who would perform surgery. We found a doctor at Johns Hopkins who felt surgery could be done. The risks were great. However, they were nothing compared with what they would have been if we had subjected Matthew to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, giving him a short time to live and devastating side effects.
Matthew's surgery went very well; 80% of the tumor was removed, and we had hope that the rest would disintegrate. Matthew came through surgery with flying colors. At that time, we felt he would beat this thing. He had an MRI every 6 months, and for 2 years the tumor never changed. Then, in May of 1995, the doctors said the tumor had begun to grow again and Matthew would need more surgery. Knowing how much more delicate a second surgery would be, we felt out lives falling apart. However, we knew it had to be done, so in July of 1995, Matthew underwent another brain surgery. Again, God blessed us with a successful outcome. This time, 90% of the tumor was removed. The doctors felt this was more than a great surgery, they felt God was watching over Matthew.
Matthew went to school that Fall and did all the normal things 7-year-old boys do. He had an MRI every 6 months, but other than that, he was living life again. However, on December 3, 1997, Matthew's doctors called with the news I never dreamed I would hear again. The tumor had begun to grow back for the third time. That was not the worst of it. The doctors said surgery could not be done. I asked what could be done. They said that chemotherapy would only buy Matthew a few more months.
My husband and I then began to research our alternatives. Knowing what we already did about chemotherapy and radiation therapy, we knew Matthew's life would soon be gone. I had fought too long and hard to just give up. I believed that God had a reason to keep my baby here, and I gathered all the strength God gave me to find a better way.
After intense research, we found Dr. Burzynski in Houston, Texas. He had developed a treatment with little to no side effects, which also is nontoxic. Antineoplastons destroy cancer without destroying the whole body. Once we found that the type of tumor Matthew had was one treated by Dr. Burzynski under an FDA protocol, we began to do whatever it took to get Matthew this treatment.
Our health care insurance would not cover the costs of treatment, even though it would give Matthew a 60% to 70% chance of a cure. Their reason was that it is an experimental drug. My reply was if it were your child and there was no hope, would you not do whatever it takes to save his life. We still did not get a response from the insurance company, but that did not stop us.
Matthew began treatment on March 3, 1998, in Houston, Texas. When he started, he had already lost the ability to use his left side. He also lost his short-term memory. After 3 months on antineoplastons, Matthew was able to ride a bike, play with his friends, and now is in school full time. Today, he is 11 years old and enjoying life once again. His tumor had decreased by 65%, and 90% of it is inactive. He is again beating the odds, and we can only ask that God bless us with a life without this illness.
We want to make it possible for other people to have this choice without having to fight their insurance company and the FDA as we have had to do. Antineoplastons are saving lives all over this country. Our battle for life is more than we should have had to endure.