Monday, May 25, 2009

NOT alternative

Many of you know that I appeared on the syndicated television show Extra last week, talking about Farrah and my own experience being treated at The Klinik. The segment and the surrounding publicity really led to a big response. I have to say it’s been overwhelming!

I've received so many e-mails, messages and phone calls that I can't reply to them all. But I’ve been reading every one, and along the way noticed a word that’s common to almost every message. The word is "alternative.”

“Alternative.” The word’s been used a lot describing the treatment I received at The Klinik, because it’s an “alternative” to the limited options offered here in the States. But to be accurate, I was not treated with alternative medicine.

Just so we’re on the same page from now on, I’ll offer the definitions:

Conventional Medicine: A system in which doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called mainstream medicine and Western medicine.

Alternative Medicine: Practices used instead of standard treatments. They generally are not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches. Examples of alternative medicine include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, spiritual healing and meditation.

Here's what I was treated with:

Complementary Medicine: Practices often used to enhance or complement conventional treatments. They generally are not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches. Complementary medicine combines mainstream, western medicine with alternative medicine.

Alternative? Complementary? Remember this: Insurance companies won't cover either medicine.

We really need to get insurance companies to cover alternative care and complementary care.

That would give us all more options for being healed.

(You can see the Extra segment by clicking here.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Real health care reform

                         WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama predicted travails ahead for
                         the struggle to pass health-care reform but offered a hopeful outlook
                         for passage of legislation providing access to insurance coverage for
                         all saying "the stars may be aligned" for a deal on a goal that eluded
                         the last Democratic president... Obama said he is "absolutely committed"
                         to moving forward with a health-care plan...

I watched President Obama on C-Span speaking about health-care reform and was frustrated because he was only addressing one part of the problem. All he talked about was affordable health-care for everyone. That’s great. I have affordable health-care. I pay $278 a month for it. But whether it's affordable or not, a big problem remains.

Okay, follow me here...

I have to go to a dentist that deals with people who've been through radiation for head and neck cancer. The dentist is $350 a visit. Even though my Delta Dental insurance covers the treatment, the dentist makes me pay him in full after every visit. He says the insurance companies often refuse to pay him, so he leaves it to the patient to deal with it. After every visit, I pay the dentist, and the dentist gives me a “super voucher” that I send into the insurance company in hopes I’ll be reimbursed.

Then my first ENT wouldn't take Blue Cross because they don't pay, so I had to pay after my visit. He was $600. Then there’s my other doctor for vitamin C drips and other "alternative" treatments that are very necessary but not covered by insurance at all: $550 a visit. If you haven’t been doing the math, that's $1,778 out of pocket. The $1,500 that I paid out and sent in super vouchers for reimbursement, so far I've gotten back $0 from my insurance company.

I also needed two procedures when I had cancer that my oncologist said were necessary for me to be cured. One cost $2,700 and the other was $800.00. My insurance company insisted that both the procedures were not necessary and would only cover one of them. They paid the $800 one and left me to pay the $2,700. After eight months of phone calls to my insurance company they finally paid for both.

My question: Who's treating me? My doctor told me I needed those two procedures and my insurance company told me I only needed one. Who do I listen to?

Why not eliminate the doctors and let the insurance executives treat us?

I hope you can see the inconsistencies within the system. Simply put: insurance companies won't pay the doctors, so the doctors don't take insurance and have "pay immediately after visit policies" and let the sick chase the insurance companies with super vouchers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


After my scope and scans were clear, my American doctors told me I was all done, to go home and they would see me in three months for another scan. My doctor at The Klinik in Germany e-mailed today to let me know she’s sending me a kit for micro-tumor testing and to make sure my blood is clear.

That’s a procedure they don't do in the States.

The kit is made up of different sized vials to be filled with my blood. Last time there were fifteen vials. I’ll fill them and send them to The Klinik. Then I'll go to Germany and receive a vaccination of the blood's healthiest cells to keep me tumor free.

That’s another procedure they don't do in the States

My doctor at The Klinik also wants me to continue taking Neurium and Hepa Merz for my liver and to control and rebuild my immune system.

(That bump near my shoulder is the catheter port they inserted when I began chemotherapy. I have to keep it for another year.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Farrah's real story

It was really tough for me to watch Farrah's Story on NBC the other night. Farrah Fawcett is my friend. I pray that she's comfortable and not in any pain.

But here's the deal: The special didn’t get it right, and the review in The New York Times hit it right on the head:

"...Ms. Fawcett’s reliance on European alternative treatments is more poignant than persuasive. Her exuberant German doctors seem far too giddily invested in their visiting patient’s fame to give her realistic prognoses — or even dissuade her from flying home to Los Angeles before she was strong enough to travel..."

Most of the doctors on the special were and still are my doctors. Dr. Jacob and Dr. Vogl are NOT AT ALL like they were portrayed in that special. They are absolutely brilliant. Dr. Jacob is the most focused, passionate doctor--make that person-- I've met in my life. Google Dr. Vogl... enough said about that.

As far as their convincing Farrah to stay in Germany until she was strong enough to travel, Dr. Jacob told her exactly what could happen if she flew home too soon and strongly suggested that she stay at The Klinik for a couple of more days. Farrah’s friend Alana Stewart told her the same thing.

How do I know? I was there. I was in Farrah's room when Dr. Jacob called and said that Dr. Vogl had suggested that Farrah stay at least one more day. I also urged her not to leave. But Farrah had made up her mind and she was going to go home no matter what anyone said and that was that.

That's what really bothered me about the special. I'm guessing that NBC News had more than a hand in the final cut.

Here's another quote from The New York Times:

“...During one painful procedure, a German doctor asks Ms. Fawcett to name her best work. The actress mentions a few of the films she made that were critically acclaimed, including ‘Extremities’ and the television movie ‘The Burning Bed.’ The doctor reminds her about her 1970s television show ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ Ms. Fawcett replies weakly, ‘Well, I only did that for one year’...”

The first time Farrah had the tumors burned off her liver by Dr. Vogl, I was in the next operating room being prepped for my first embolism. For both procedures, the patients have to be awake. They only give you a local to numb the area for entrance. Dr. Vogl will talk about a number of things during the procedure, but make no mistake about it, the first thing he does is explain what he's about to do to you and what you should expect to feel during the procedures.

I know for a fact that Alana has that on tape. I was there.

One last quote from The New York Times and then I'll shut up... for now.

"Those trips evidently gave Ms. Fawcett hope and lots of encouragement and personal attention, but the film doesn’t shed much light on how much or whether the treatments actually helped..."

Point blank Ms. New York Times: “Hope... encouragement... personal attention... or whether those treatments actually helped?” Farrah went to Germany because doctors here in the States told her there was nothing else they could do for her. That was almost two years ago.

Let’s consider the choice: Go to Germany for what they call "alternative" treatment-- or stay here for what I call "primitive" treatment.

I've had both. I choose “alternative.”

One more thing: At the end of the special, Farrah said, "I have some questions. Like why isn’t there more research done on certain types of cancer? And why doesn’t our health care system embrace alternative treatments that have proven to be successful in other countries?”

How about these questions, among others:

Why do some medicines cost five to ten times more
in the United States than they do in Germany?

Why don't we do chemotherapy sensitivity tests here
like they do in Germany and other countries?

And why is the United States of America so far behind
in treatment for this horrendous disease?

Charlie revealed

I've received quite a number of e-mails asking about The Charlie Foundation. Everyone wants to know who Charlie is. Charlie is my dog. He’s a Boston Terrier. We got him as a stray when he was about four months old. About six or eight months before I was diagnosed, this little dog would alway lick me on the right side of my neck, the same side where the tumor was. For the better part of a year, I was sick in bed and Charlie never left my side. He would get up and eat and go out when he had to and then he would come right back into the bedroom and lay next to me. Every morning when I would wake up, this little dog would lick my neck where the cancer was. So the logo for the foundation will be a photo of Charlie, with a cartoon bubble coming out of his mouth saying, "We can lick cancer."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Farrah... and Charlie

Long time no blog. I want to let everyone know that Farrah's documentary about her ongoing battle with cancer airs tonight on NBC.

I'm sure you've all heard the news reports about her situation. I'll tell you point blank: Farrah is a fighter and an inspiration to all. She definitely inspired me during both of my cancer battles.  Everyone can do me a favor and tonight while her documentary is on, let's all think positive, healing thoughts for her.

I told Alana Stewart to tell Farrah I haven't heard the fat lady sing; keep fighting. I decided that it's politically incorrect,what I should have said was I haven't heard the “plus-size lady” sing.

As far as my health goes, I'm doing so much better. I still get tired and I'm still a little sore at times from the radiation in my body but it’s nothing like it was. I'm sure that in the next couple of months this will pass. As much as I hate them, the daily epsom salt and baking soda baths help so much.  So do the daily saunas.

The one problem I still have is eating and gaining weight. I got up to 156 pounds. I lost a few pounds because I forgot to eat.  So I'm 151 today.

I know what you're thinking:  How do you forget to eat?  Well, it's simple. I'm not hungry. I have no messages from my stomach to my head telling me I'm hungry. My brother Mark sent me boxes of this stuff called Benecalorie that has 330 calories per serving. I try to have two of those a day.  I just have to try to eat more, that's it.

I'm in the process of starting a foundation to get proper cancer treatment for people who can’t afford it, whether it’s here in the States or in another country.

I'm waiting to find out if the foundation name clears.

It's called The Charlie Foundation.