Twenty-seven years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; the doctors told my family that I would be dead within two years. Instead I lived. The reason I’m alive, strong and healthy today is because I was treated with Antineoplastons by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. Dr. Burzynski had the CURE for my Cancer. This is the story of my diagnosis and recovery.
It was 1984; I was 36 years old. I worked for a non-profit organization training neighborhood people in conflict resolution in San Francisco. I lived with my husband David, a television news cameraman, in a working class neighborhood in the southern part of the City. After ten years of marriage we’d just had our first child, a beautiful little girl we named Zia Marie. Never a conventional person, I was very involved in the arts, alternative healing, organic food and natural childbirth. It was logical for me to consider having our baby away from a hospital, if possible. After careful thought and planning we decided to have our daughter at home with a midwife. My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, and our 6-hour home birth was beautiful and uncomplicated. We were adjusting to life as new parents and enjoying our baby when a post partum check up by our midwife revealed a lump in my abdomen. She thought it might be a hematoma from the birth process, but when it didn’t go away, she sent me to my general practitioner. He sent me for a CT scan. That was the day my life as I’d known it changed. Forever.
The CT scanner at St. Mary’s Hospital is in the basement. I’d gone to the hospital alone, leaving Zia at home with my husband. I was breastfeeding and had expressed enough milk for a couple hours. I’d been told the scan wouldn’t take longer than an hour.
Then I was done with the scan and told to wait in the bank of chairs outside the scan chamber. The minutes ticked by and then an hour. Then another hour. And another. All the other patients had gone home and the waiting room was empty. My breasts were filled and leaking. I kept asking the nurses in the area if they knew anything, but they didn’t. They told me it was important to wait. Finally almost four hours after I’d had my scan, a doctor appeared. He said abruptly,“You have cancer, and it’s all over your body.” I remember that I was shaking so hard my teeth were chattering and I burst out crying. “I have a new baby, I can NOT die!” I said. The doctor walked away. “I’ll go find your GP”, he called over his shoulder. Alone in the empty waiting room I stood sobbing in complete terror and grief. I felt like I was dying on the spot.
The following weeks were a blur. Major abdominal surgery and a bone marrow biopsy revealed the cancer was small cleaved cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage 4. The cancer was so widespread, the surgeon decided not to try to remove my affected spleen or any more than two lymph nodes. The oncologist recommended that I stop breastfeeding immediately; he would be giving me an intravenous cocktail of three chemotherapeutic drugs, Cisplatin, Cytoxin, and 5-FU.. My breast milk would be poisonous to my daughter. The drugs would cause hair loss, extreme nausea and vomiting, skin conditions, liver poisoning, etc. They would not cure the cancer; there was no cure for this form of cancer. When my family and I questioned the advisability of taking a toxic treatment that would yield such poor results, my surgeon and oncologist both became very upset and angry. There would be chemo, no questions asked; it would be unconscionable not to take the treatment, and that was that.
As soon as I was able to get around, we headed to Stanford Medical Center for a second opinion. Here they offered the same mix of drugs, but there also was an additional protocol that had recently been added to recommended protocols for this form of Lymphoma. Because the small cleaved cell type could sometimes grow more slowly than other Lymphomas, and because the chemical protocol was so devastating to the body, a patient could choose to have a blue dye injected into the lymph system through the feet and then x-rayed monthly in a “watch and wait” mode until the cancer threatened to shut down a major organ. This was the best offer I’d heard so far, and I immediately opted for “watch and wait”.
But of course, I wasn’t going to be waiting around to eventually be poisoned, even at Stanford! With support from family and friends, I started researching every non-toxic alternative approach to cancer I could find. Over the following 18 months I explored every viable idea I came across and could afford:
Macrobiotics, juicing, acupuncture, colonics, homeopathy, peptide shots in Mexico, visualization, meditation, natural lipid therapy, high dose vitamin therapy (ironically, at one point I lost my hair due to vitamin A toxicity), laetrile, and many other things I’ve forgotten by now. Every month I dragged myself reluctantly back to Stanford Cancer Clinic to be x-rayed. The waiting room filled with shell-shocked, skeletal, depressed cancer patients was terrifying. The x-rays showed the cancer was holding steady. It was not going away. But it was not growing either.
In pursuit of a diet that would support my lipid therapy, my mother and I traveled to see a highly recommended nutritional physician in Oregon, Dr. Lynn Anderson. Dr. Anderson regularly put her career in jeopardy treating cancer patients with nutritional therapy. She was also searching for more humane and effective approaches to cancer than chemo and radiation for her patients. When she learned that I’d managed to avoid chemotherapy for almost two years, she urged us to get in touch with a doctor in Texas who was successfully treating cancer with a non-toxic medicine he’d synthesized from the human body. Dr. Anderson thought I would be in an ideal position to benefit from his approach, since my immune system had not been destroyed yet by chemotherapy, and this doctor’s treatment worked with the immune system. I was reluctant to call him; I’d been to so many doctors and practitioners in so many places, but Dr. Anderson insisted. A week later I was on a plane to Houston to meet Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. My life was about to change again, this time in a most miraculous way!
The first thing I noticed upon entering the waiting room at the Burzynski Clinic, was the atmosphere. Instead of the usual funereal mood of other cancer clinic waiting rooms, the people here seemed relaxed. Children were running around. Animated conversations were taking place. Were these cancer patients? They looked too healthy--and happy. My meeting with Dr. Burzynski was also an optimistic event. Dr. B had read all my records, examined my blood and was ready to start me on the oral form of his medicine: Antineoplastons. He was confident that my body would respond positively to the treatment, that the extensive web of tumors throughout my lymph system could shrink. Every hopeful, I wanted to believe what he said. But I'd been down so many paths that petered out or that led to a dead end, and my body was so tired and so sick, it was hard to imagine a life of health restored. I went back to my little Houston motel room, took my first dose of Antineoplaston capsules and laid down on the bed and prayed. Let it be true, please!
I woke up early the next morning feeling strangely energetic. I got out of bed and found myself suddenly looking forward to my visit to the Burzynski Clinic. There was a buoyancy inside. I even felt hungry for breakfast--something I'd not felt for many months. Dr. Burzynski was not at all surprised to hear about my sudden spurt of energy; this was a common response to Antineoplaston therapy. Dr. Burzynski created Antineoplastons by synthesizing peptides our bodies make naturally. These peptides circulate through the system conveying a chemical message to any cancer cells they find: stop growing! When the cancer cells get this message, they stop reproducing, and naturally die off. The peptides are plentiful in the blood and urine of healthy individuals, but people with cancer and other degenerative diseases have greatly reduced numbers of these peptides, which work in conjunction with our immune systems. Because my treatment was replenishing my supply of peptides, my immune system was being supported. Increased energy was the first "side effect" I had with Antineoplaston treatment!
In the months that followed, I flew back and forth to Houston on a regular basis. Since Dr. Burzynski was not allowed to treat anyone outside the state of Texas, I took a Texas address and lied to the clinic, thereby making myself a federal criminal. Houston friends of my family helped send me my medicine; sometimes I smuggled it onto the plane instead. I was willing to take the risk of being arrested; slowly my health was actually improving! From the beginning of treatment, my blood work showed notable improvement, although the extensive network of lymphatic tumors remained. I continued to feel more and more energetic and the intense depression and anxiety I'd lived with on a twenty-four hour basis began to lift. As treatment went on, we decided to increase my daily dose of Antineoplastons and switch to intravenous delivery. I had an IV port placed in my chest. Every night I filled an IV bag with liquid Antineoplastons and received an 8 hour drip while I slept. After four months I was experiencing a reduction of my huge, uncomfortable belly and I'd increased my weight from 90 pounds to 100. I'd had only one minor side effect, which was sleepiness after an infusion. But the best news was this: my MRI showed a 25% reduction in the size of my tumors! My family and I were beyond ecstatic.
Because the kind of cancer I had was a slow-growing type, the cancer cells were longer-lived and slow to respond to treatment. My cancer was also very extensive. And yet, little by little the cancer seemed to be naturally dying off as it responded to the messages from the Antineoplastons. Finally the day before my daughter's fifth birthday the MRI showed the results we had all been praying for for so long: there was no sign of cancer any more in my body! I was well!
When I began treatment with Dr Burzynski, it had been near to impossible to find an oncologist in the Bay Area who would monitor my treatment. None of the doctors I'd seen at St. Mary's or Stanford was willing, or even interested in my progress.
My husband's work as a television news camera operator took him on a regular basis to the first AIDS clinic in the United States; sadly AIDS was now a daily part of the evening news, and David had become acquainted with the head of the clinic, Dr. Paul Volberding. Volberding had started off specializing in lymphomas, but had become more and more involved in AIDS research and treatment as the epidemic grew. Because there was no effective treatment for AIDS, practitioners were more open to experimental and non-conventional treatments than doctors who practiced traditional oncology. My husband begged Dr. Volberding to take my case, and Volberding generously agreed, despite his heavy responsibility and international status. During the many months of my treatment with Antineoplastons then, I made regular visits to the AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital where Dr. Volberding had his practice. Each time he examined me and looked at my latest scan, he calmly noted that my tumors seemed to be regressing. He was genuinely pleased and happy for us when we triumphantly arrived to share the final "all clear scan" with him. But he never expressed any curiosity about Dr. Burzynski's treatment or how it could be that a woman who was slated for death was standing before him completely healed. When he later was interviewed by Thomas Elias for the book "The Burzynski Breakthrough", he stated that my restored health had been due to a "spontaneous remission".