Thinking Outside The Box

A recent discussion on one of the MM listservs gave me some food for thought. The issue is: should cancer patients seek out alternative treatments only when they stop responding to conventional ones? Should alternative treatments be a last resort? I think you know what my answer is. 😉

This reminded of when I was confronted with the decision as to whether or not go ahead with chemotherapy in 2005. My Florentine haematologist (who retired in August 2006) had been urging me since early fall to begin two cycles of Velcade and then do an SCT (stem cell transplant) in the summer of 2006. But I wanted another opinion. So Stefano and I spent a few days in wonderful Turin (northern Italy, a city famous for its CHOCOLATE, need I say more?) to consult with a famous Italian MM specialist who looked over my test results and told me to wait, since I still didn’t have any CRAB symptoms. (My friend Don has a great explanation for CRAB symptoms on his website: At any rate, one doctor tells me to begin chemo, another tells me to wait. What to do? I remember this was a very confusing time for me and my family.

In January 2006, though, I found the curcumin-myeloma studies, wrote to Prof. Bharat Aggarwal at the MD Anderson Cancer Research Centre in Texas, discussed the curcumin protocol with my husband and my haematologist, and began the curcumin protocol. After eight weeks, my IgG had decreased by almost 20%. We were all surprised and elated. My haematologist was among the first to congratulate me (he later told me that he had begun sprinkling turmeric over his food, which pleased me exceedingly!).

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that it might be a mistake to wait until you have no options left. Explore your options. Yes, there are quite a few absurd purported alternative cancer cures out there, but you can learn to distinguish the good from the bad, just as I have. If a substance or treatment has no scientific backing, forget it. Period.

My current haematologist recently told me that she always learns something from me. I consider that one of the most significant things she has ever said to me. Conventional doctors know a lot, for sure, but they don’t know everything. We can help them think outside the box. Just a few random thoughts to end a rather lazy Sunday afternoon.


  1. Margaret,

    You are blessed to have found a doctor who admits that she learns from you, and who seems willing to want to learn from her patients. She’s definitely on your team. So many of the oncologists I’ve met are so egotistical that they would never admit that patients could teach them anything. They are the experts, and they seldom if ever say, “I don’t know.” My current hematologist is very open-minded about a lot of things, including alternative therapies, and I am lucky to have her on my team as well.


  2. You are SO right about alternative treatments first. I rather wish I had not taken thallidomide, and had started trying “altermatives” as the mainline treatment from the beginning, because thalidomide stopped working pretty soon and I think I barely escaped the neuropathy.

    That said, I will get the results from the first two months of curcumin therapy in about ten days. Fingers and toes crossed.


  3. Hello Margaret,
    Did you tell us a while ago that your haematologist was
    writing some kind of paper about your remarkable recovery?
    Did anything come of that?It would be interesting to know
    what the professionals tell each other.
    Have you read “Living Proof-a medical mutiny” by Michael
    Gearing-Tosh?He saw no less that eight consultants before
    rejecting the lot and opting for Gerson Therapy ( successfully).
    One such person was Professor Sir David Weatherall,FRS,
    Regius professor of Medicine, Oxford University, who said to
    him “What you must understand,Mr Gearing-Tosh, is that
    we know so little about how the body works.”
    That says it all,don’t you think?

  4. Yes, Bill, I have indeed read Michael Gearin-Tosh’s book. I have read and reread it. Wonderful. Inspiring. I have a link to his case on my homepage (it’s one of the MM blogs/sites ). Michael, also known as the.005% survivor since those were the odds of his surviving for more than a few months (but he survived for more than 11 years!), inspired me to explore and continue my stroll down an alternative path. And yes, you are right, my haematologist has been taking notes on my case and has told me that she plans to write an article on me at some point, once she has gathered enough data. I will talk to her about that when we next meet (November or December). And let you know what happens, if anything.

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