Antineoplastons For a Nurse
My first diagnosis of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was in 1986. I was 30 years old with four and six year old sons. I was petrified to leave my boys, and determined to fight. Since I had no real understanding of cancer and very little medical knowledge, I let the physicians make all the decisions about my care. After extensive testing and procedures (better categorized as torture!), they told me I needed radiation therapy. After being tattooed and placed in a pre-designated position on a table, lights and buzzers went off warning everyone else to leave the room so I could get my treatment. It was all I could do to make myself stay there. That went on every day for the next seven weeks or so.
There were many side effects to the radiation treatments. I’m sure the doctors told me the ones I needed to know, but they down-played the negative effects, and magnified the positive effect- namely killing cancer. My salivary glands were ineffective for about eight months- causing dental damage and cotton mouth. I lost my taste buds for about three months. My hair was burned out in the area of irradiation, and one patch has never grown back. Some of the radiation damage is still apparent. I had temporary burns on my neck. The burns inside my throat they called “radiation esophagitis”. I lost weight, and slept a lot…
Much later the doctors told me they thought I could go the rest of my life without ever seeing my cancer return. I was overjoyed and attempted to go on with life as before. However, I also decided that I needed to know more about medicine. I had start doing volunteer work at the University of Utah Medical Center and one thing led to another…. I ended up in nursing school. Although I lost a baby in 1992, God blessed me with another son in 1993 and life went on. It was great!
Since I had been a teacher before my cancer, my natural attraction in nursing was to children. After several years, I had a regular clientele of pediatric home health patients who had chronic disease, many of them cancer. I loved my work, my patients and their families. I also loved learning about medicine, diagnoses, and treatments. Mostly I enjoyed treating people with patience and understanding, while causing the least amount of pain possible.
In November of 1999 I was diagnosed with a recurrence. The tests and biopsies showed it to be grade four. One of the oncologists told my family I had about five years left to live. My whole family was devastated. We started praying immediately for God’s direction. My family, my co-workers, and my church were my support group, my prayer warriors, and my cheering section.
This time I decided to make more informed decisions about my own care. I researched everything I could find about cancer and specifically Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Alternative therapies, colonics, vitamins, supplements, diets, you name it- I tried it. There were some things I knew would not work, but I was willing to try anything that made sense or had some scientific merit. I started a strict regime of diet, vitamins, and supplements. I surrounded myself with all the positive input I could about healing, God’s love, and hope, while isolating myself from stress and negativism as much as possible. I tried monoclonal antibodies two different times since many of my cancer cells had the CD-20 marker. Afterwards, the CT scans were still discouraging.
I had been reading about Dr. Burzynski on the internet. It was amazing to me that he actually found something missing in cancer victims’ blood. The story of his discovery made sense to me, and I felt excited that test subjects responded to the replacement of those peptide chains. Replacing something that should have been in my body all along was much more inviting to me than taking foreign medications that would kill good cells along with the bad.
It bothered me that the only negative reports I could read about antineoplastons were personal vendettas and not scientific research proving the drug to be ineffective or dangerous. It doesn’t matter to me as a patient if the drug is sold to drug companies because I know of many “mistakes” made by those same people. As a nurse I had a new perspective about drugs and treatment, and as a patient I wanted to use my knowledge and ability to research while I made my own decisions. Since the monoclonal antibodies did not place me in remission; I wanted to take something that would help me- without hurting me. After reading everything I could find (including a book) about the treatment, the FDA, and the doctor, it was the only treatment I really trusted.
About that time I was introduced to a patient in my home town who was dying of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had been through CHOP therapy, as well as other treatments that I had researched. Her oncologist had told her to wait until there were no treatments left before having a stem-cell transplant, but all the drugs had left her bone marrow depleted. Now stem cell transplant was no longer an option. She was bitter and angry. I had already considered this treatment but did not like the odds. My decision was made.
The treatment was hard for me. I already had a port infection and did not know it until I started taking the antineoplastons. That was my first hurdle. For about eleven and a half months I took the drugs intravenously wearing pumps in a back pack 24 hours per day. I continued seeing my home health patients while being treated, but I soon grew very tired. The antineoplastons made me so thirsty I went through a five gallon jug of water in two days. Then I would get up about every hour or hour and a half to either get some water or go to the bathroom. The sleep depravation was the worst side effect.
Constantly drinking water caused my potassium to drop to dangerously low levels. I already had low blood counts because of the monoclonal antibodies, and contracted salmonella poisoning from a restaurant, ending up in the hospital for five days. By being careful, however, my side effects were manageable.
It was so exciting when my CT scan showed all the lymph nodes in my chest to be gone! …but the lymph nodes in my abdomen were actually slightly bigger. At that point I was started on the oral medications and it became easier. I was still thirsty, but to a much less degree. Since the FDA requests for Dr. Burzynski to recommend another drug to augment the antineoplastons, he suggested I try Fludara. My oncologist was thrilled, and began treatments right away.
Interestingly I learned that cancer tumors will calcify after they have been treated. They don’t necessarily just dissolve. In my case that means they will always show up in CT scans as enlarged lymph nodes. After six months it was time for another scan. This time I was able to get my oncologist to order a PET scan. In November of 2003, after four years of treatments, I was finally CANCER-FREE!!!
As a medical professional I could write a whole book on my cancer experience. As a mother, patient, nurse, minister’s wife, and daughter, and someone who just loves life, I trust Dr. Burzynski and his treatment. In fact I trust him with my life.
Melody Bullock-Corkhill, RN, BSN, BS, MS