Interview with Rick Shapiro, Author of Hope Never Dies: How 20 Late-Stage and Terminal Cancer Patients Beat the Odds
I had an opportunity to interview Rick Shapiro, a leading cancer treatment consultant, whose new book, Hope Never Dies: How 20 Late-Stage and Terminal Cancer Patients Beat the Odds (Innovative Healing Press, Nov. 7, 2017), describes the astonishing success of integrative and alternative cancer treatments compared to conventional standard-of-care cancer treatment.
What does the term “Integrative Cancer Care” mean?
Integrative Cancer Care is the implementation of conventional, standard-of-care treatments and therapies (generally chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery), combined with complementary alternative treatments and therapies. Conventional therapies are intended to attack the cancer directly, while complementary alternative therapies help create a healthy anti-cancer environment and support the individual. The interventions delivered in Integrative Cancer Care are frequently managed by a collaborative team of practitioners.
Why are integrative treatments not offered routinely?
There are many reasons, but here are two:
1. Medical doctors aren’t trained in the science of non-standard of care therapies. For example, one complementary alternative therapy is nutritional oncology. This is a deep science, with numerous supportive studies that prove its efficacy. It can significantly enhance many bio-chemical factors, the micro-environment and other issues that influence the progression of cancer. Yet, a 2010 study of medical schools in the U.S. by the National Academy of Sciences showed that only 27% offered any reasonable course of study in nutrition — and that’s general nutrition, not specialized areas of nutrition. Medical doctors aren’t trained in oncological nutrition therapies, evidence-based supplementation, mind-body exercises, exercise regimens and many other non-standard of care strategies that can have a profound impact on stimulating the immune system and, ultimately, helping slow, control or stop the progression of cancer.
2. Conventional medicine is largely governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The conventional establishment does not accept the utility of most treatments unless they’re blessed by evidence approved by the FDA. To be blessed, protracted, randomized, large, double blind, placebo-controlled “Phase 3” studies must be relatively safe and demonstrate clinical benefit. These studies cost upwards of $1 billion. A 2014 Tufts University Medical School Study of Drug Development determined the average cost for new prescription drug approval is $2.5 billion and takes 10 to 15 years to complete — a glacial pace for those needing treatment now. Generally, only large pharmaceutical companies can afford this expense, which is justified by obtaining highly profitable, protected patents for their new drugs. In contrast, the integrative and alternative world often uses non-pharmaceutical approaches, which are not patentable, and they cannot incur the financial costs of such obscenely expensive studies to validate treatment or therapy efficacy. Consequently, the conventional medical world generally won’t recognize such alternative therapies as acceptable or proven, despite the fact that there are other methods of proof that validate the efficacy of many of these therapies.
Give an example of how more personalized, integrative care is helping save lives.
One example from Hope Never Dies concerns Cheryl, who in 1997 at age 48 had a lemon-sized, hemorrhaging tumor and was diagnosed with grade 4 brain cancer (Glioblastoma Multiforme). She was given 6 to 9 months to live and told “get your affairs in order.” Cheryl was told chemo and radiation would be short-term, palliative options. She chose to abstain from chemo, but decided to undergo radiation treatments. She waited until six months after surgery, because she first wanted to strengthen her body even though she was told she’d be dead in 6 to 9 months. Fortunately, shortly after surgery, Jeanne Wallace, Ph.D., a close friend of Cheryl’s and a renowned expert in nutritional oncology, became Cheryl’s primary healthcare advocate, and implemented a comprehensive, highly specific, oncological nutrition strategy designed specifically to address Cheryl’s terminal brain cancer issues.
Cheryl’s integrative care choices worked synergistically and allowed her to survive and enjoy a healthy life, which she still maintains 20 years later. She advised, “Don’t give up hope. Don’t let your doctor brainwash you into thinking you have no time left. You are not a statistic.”
In your interviews with the 20 late-stage patients who regained health, what stood out for you?
One prevalent characteristic was a no-quit, fighting spirit. This attitudinal force and positive spirit is a foundational cornerstone among most cancer patients who do well. Additionally, being proactive and involved in a multi-faceted therapeutic process is very important.
What advice do you have for someone who just received a cancer diagnosis?
First, BREATHE. Take a deep breath, and then another, and another. It’s normal to go into high-stress mode when informed of a cancer diagnosis. You may become very fearful and anxious. Again, this is normal. BUT, within a few days, or perhaps a week or two, it’s important to marshal up your inner resolve and realize that you’re not a statistic, you are an individual, and there are many, many people who have come before you who’ve survived and thrived, despite receiving dire cancer prognoses.
Also, don’t make impulsive decisions. Get several opinions from respected healthcare experts, including integrative and alternative practitioners. If you can’t find any in your area, arrange for phone consults to become more knowledgeable and craft a course of action. Don’t let naysayers or pushy friends and family, despite their good intentions, direct your course of action. Become a self-advocate and engage in the important research to find practitioners who will work together to implement strategies that will enhance your immune system, attack the cancer and make your body vital and inhospitable to cancer.
Learn more at: www.HopeNeverDies.com