Living with Meso – Charlene’s story UPDATE

6 May 2008 by under People, Research/Treatment

nccam logo 01 150x62 Living with Meso   Charlenes story UPDATEToday I received a wonderful email from Charlene Kaforey. Some of you have followed along with her story about her own fight with mesothelioma, which was published here in March and April. For those that are unfamiliar, Charlene, who just turned 49, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2007.

With a stage III diagnosis, she underwent treatments from October to December of that year, and then, faced with the prospect of a pleurectomy or pneumonectomy, which would remove part or all of the affected lung, decided to try alternative medicine.

Charlene went to the ITL Alternative Cancer Treatment Clinic in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, in January 2008, where she underwent an 8-week treatment called Immuno-Augmentation Therapy (IAT). Upon returning home, she administers her own vaccines several times a day, and has been continuing a twice-daily intravenous vitamin C program with the help of a nurse friend.

She celebrated her birthday Sunday, then on Monday went for her first CT scan since beginning her alternative treatment. Charlene reports, “There was overall improvement in my scan results!! The tumor was half of what it was previously, the pleural thickening was reduced, fluid is reduced and the pleural effusion is gone. I am thrilled, and stunned. Of course, I’m still guardedly optimistic, since I do still have cancer and the results could change at any time. But this, for now, this is the best birthday present I could have gotten!”

Alternative therapies like IAT are not authorized by the American Medical Association, and there is still a lot of skepticism and caution surrounding them. Generally, medical insurance does not cover alternative medical treatments like IAT.

Treatments that are not considered conventional medicine, but that are undertaken along with traditional medical therapies, like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, are called complementary. Treatments used in place of conventional medicine, like the IAT Charlene is undergoing, are called alternative medicine.

IAT, along with other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) programs, are being studied by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which operates under the Department of Health and Human Services.

Patients considering complementary or alternative treatments are encouraged to thoroughly research possible risks, benefits, and scientific evidence, and to discuss alternatives with their physician.

For more information, visit the NCCAM online, in the “health” section under “be an informed consumer.” They have information on topics including what to do when considering using CAM, how to select a CAM practitioner, and paying for CAM treatment.

I will be exploring CAMs in the coming weeks, and hope to talk to physicians and alternative and complementary treatment doctors and specialists about these programs, as well as patients like Charlene who are using them. If you’ve had an experience with a CAM, leave a comment or email me and share your experience.

I am thrilled for Charlene! Happy Birthday!!

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