The idea for this book began simply enough: I wanted to tell the story of how my husband Neal ended up in a Baltimore courtroom, singled out for persecution by "Big Medicine" and its allies in "Big Government."
What I never anticipated was that the project would turn into a journey of discovery beyond anything I could have imagined. It has opened my eyes to the crisis facing our nation's health care system. It is not a crisis arising from a lack of money, although money is a central issue. It is not a crisis arising from a lack of effective treatments, although the efficacy of treatments is a central issue. It is not a crisis arising from a lack of government regulation, although government regulation is a central issue. How can it be that these factors lie at the core of the problem and yet are not the cause? The answer to that riddle lay at the end of my journey of discovery.
What I found was that we were not spending too little on health care, we were spending too much! Indeed, we ranked first among all nations in health care spending, but that money wasn't going to improve our well being. It was being diverted to satisfy corporate greed!
According to a study published in the July 26, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the United States ranks dead last among industrialized nations in a number of key health indicators. Included among them are infant mortality, infant birth weight and neonatal fatality. Worse, according to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks 24th in terms of healthy life expectancy. But most disturbing is the apparent cause of our poor health performance: the health care system itself.
A study of inadequacies in American hospitals conducted by the prestigious Institute of Medicine yielded some chilling statistics. Among other things it found that each year:
- Adverse reactions to medications kill 108,000 people
- Unnecessary surgery kills 7,000 people
- Hospital medication errors kill 12,000 people
- Other hospital errors kill 20,000 people
- Hospital-contracted infections kill 80,000 people
Now, mind you, the drug-related deaths are not from overdoses, or misuse of prescription drugs; they represent individuals taking prescription drugs under a doctor's supervision and in accordance with the manufacturer's protocols.
All together this means that some 227,000 people die each year from deficiencies in hospitals and prescription drugs! To put the figure in perspective, that's 4.3 times as many as died during the entire ten years of the Vietnam War!
Again, to put the problem in perspective, that means that the risk a patient has of dying as a consequence of simply being admitted to a hospital in the United States is:
- Twice that of dying from lung disease
- Three and a half times that of dying from diabetes
- Five and a half times that of dying from an automobile accident
- Almost seven times that of dying from a firearm
But even that's not the whole story.
In the era of HMOs, most patients are not hospitalized. Rather they are treated on an outpatient basis. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, between 4% and 18% of outpatients experience adverse effects following their visit! JAMA estimates that these result in:
- 116 million extra physician visits
- 77 million extra written prescriptions
- 17 million emergency room visits
- 8 million extra short-term hospitalizations
- 3 million extra long-term hospitalizations
- 199,000 additional deaths
These additional deaths, taken together with the deadly adverse effects of in-hospital stays and prescription drugs, mean that overall the U.S. health care system is the direct cause of 426,000 needless deaths each year! That's more than the combined total from strokes, kidney disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease! Only cancer and heart disease claim more victims.
The cost of these needless deaths and hospitalizations is staggering. It comes to fully $77 billion annually!
But there's a more fundamental reason for being alarmed about the failings of America's health care system than just its more obvious deficiencies. The simple fact is that it is not meeting its most basic requirement: keeping Americans healthy.
Today 125 million Americans suffer from one or more chronic diseases. That's roughly 45% of our population. In the year 2000, treating chronic diseases added $510 billion to U.S. health care costs. By the year 2020 that figure is expected to nearly double to $1.07 trillion! How can we claim to have the world's best health care and still have almost half of our people suffering from chronic illnesses? What is going on? Why, when the United States spends more than any other nation on health care, aren't we getting what we are paying for?
I learned the shocking answers to these questions on my journey of discovery. Even now, I find them hard to accept. As I think back over the last two years, and where they have led me, I realize that I was like most Americans when it came to issues like health care.
I put my faith and trust in the institutions responsible for providing and overseeing health care in our nation. I put my faith and trust in the government to ensure that these institutions behaved properly. I put my faith and trust in the "experts" who, I was sure, knew more than I did. What I did not understand was that my faith and trust had been misplaced. I do now.
That understanding was the eventual destination of my voyage of discovery. It transformed me, and the book I had initially envisioned. I hope that what I have written can do as much for you.
An indictment of Big Medicine and Their Suppression of the Cesium Cancer Therapy.
SHATTERING THE AMERICAN DREAM
I've always believed in America and in the American Dream. The notion that anyone with determination, ability and a willingness to work hard can succeed. In fact, I've always thought of myself as a living testament to the essence of that concept.
I came from modest beginnings. Lack of money and family illness made it impossible for me to attend college. I've had to overcome a failed marriage, workplace discrimination and a debilitating disease.
Despite the obstacles that life has thrown my way, however, I've been able to achieve what most people view as success. I did it by taking risks and working hard, and most important, never giving up. But that's what the American Dream is all about. That's why countless millions have struggled to come to our shores in search of a better life.
It's a glorious vision, but it's a vision that can only be realized if we adhere to another of our founding principles: the understanding that America is a nation governed by laws, not by men. This principle is what ensures that all of us will have a chance to realize the American Dream. It means that we all play by the same set of rules. It also means that we know what those rules are from the beginning. Most importantly, it means that no one, no matter how powerful, can destroy our dreams on a whim. To the Founding Fathers this concept was so important that they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to make it a reality. Indeed, our reverence and exaltation of the rule of law is such that we build our courts to resemble cathedrals. They are in a sense, secular churches.
As a young girl growing up in Connecticut in the late 50s and early 60s, I lived on what people used to call "the wrong side of the tracks." My parents were decent and hardworking, but by any reasonable measure we were not affluent; we were an average family. With day to day survival a struggle, there was barely enough money for necessities, much less luxuries. So, at an early age I went to work, holding as many as four jobs after school to help out, so I could afford to buy things others took for granted, like Christmas presents.
Despite our limited means, however, I still shared all of the hopes and ambitions of that innocent age. It was an optimistic era, and I was and remain an optimist. I dreamed of being a fashion model or interior designer, of being on magazine covers and traveling the world. After all, my generation's parents had overcome the challenges of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Streets were safe, the economy was strong, and America's leadership was unchallenged around the globe. The future held limitless possibilities and I wanted to share in them. I sincerely believed that any dream could come true. Little did I suspect how quickly my dreams could shatter.
Like many young women I was "Daddy's Girl." My father was a tall, strapping man, full of vitality. The middle child, and only girl, I was the "apple of his eye" and he was my hero. To my young mind he seemed invulnerable. I could not have been more wrong.
In his forties my father began to experience chronic back pains. Repeated examinations and x-rays failed to produce any explanation. Finally, one physician recommended that he go to the Pratt Diagnostic Center in Boston for a then new procedure called a "tomagram." The results were devastating. My father had inoperable lung cancer. There was virtually no hope for survival.
What followed during the ensuing two years was a living nightmare. We could not afford a private duty nurse, so plans for college were abandoned. Instead I stayed home with my mother to care for my beloved father. I did what I could to ease his suffering. I learned how to prepare and administer the morphine injections that became less and less effective. I tried to make his favorite foods to stimulate an appetite depressed by the disease and the drugs. But it didn't help. Day after day, I watched as a once vital human being slowly wasted away before my eyes.
Night after night he would awaken me numerous times to ask that I rub his back to help ease the pain. Sitting in a chair with his back to me, I could tell that every touch was agonizing. Towards the end, when I attempted to rub one side of his back my hand would literally sink in. The cancer had eaten away all of his ribs.
Yet he never complained, always put on a brave face. His courage in the face of this terrible disease was an inspiration. Still, I could see the pain in his eyes. When we went out, people who knew him were shocked by his appearance, clothes hanging on his frame.
After a time our finances were exhausted. Accordingly, just after high school I went to work to help out, but with limited skills there was only so much I could earn -- never enough. There was no money for a new wardrobe. There would be no money for college either, or any of the other things many of my friends took for granted, only for doctors and hospitals.
I knew all about suffering through my father, all about the desperation families faced with the tragedy of cancer feel. And about the emotional and financial toll the disease takes. But today, I know something else as well.
I know that conventional medicine has lied to the public about what it can do, that there is a cancer establishment that has reaped billions of dollars from research grants and pharmaceutical sales -- all on the basis of false hopes and broken promises. How could I know this? Just consider the record.
Three decades have passed since President Nixon declared war on cancer in 1972, with the promise of finding a cure for the dread disease in five years. Since that time the federal government alone has spent almost $45 billion on cancer research. (1) Yet, after almost thirty years we find little progress has been made.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that in the year 2000 alone, over 563,000 Americans died of cancer. (2) That's ten times as many people as our nation lost in a decade of fighting in Vietnam. (3) To put it in perspective, over 1,540 people die from cancer every day, more than one a minute. Still, the government continually claims we're making progress; that a cure is just around the corner. Although the rhetoric may be hopeful, the government's official figures tell a different story. Rather than supporting assertions that a cure is imminent, they show just how hollow that claim really is.
Since 1973, the National Cancer Institute has conducted its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER). (4) The SEER program is described by NCI as: "… the most authoritative source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the United States." (5) Fair enough. But what does SEER show?
According to the SEER data, between 1990 and 1997, cancer deaths from the fifteen most common forms declined eight-tenths of a percent. (6) This might seem like tangible, albeit miniscule evidence of progress, but statistics can be deceiving. The SEER data also show that the incidence of cancer during that time also declined by an identical eight-tenths of a percent, (7) this due largely to the drop in smoking related cancers. But the fall-off in smoking-related cancer has nothing to do with improved treatments. Rather, it is simply a reflection of the fact that fewer people smoke. But even this tells only part of the story.
When you examine the change in the mortality rates for each of the fifteen types of cancer included in the SEER statistics, the death rate for five of them -- one-third of the total -- actually increased. (8)
What is perhaps most startling, however, is the change in cancer incidence and mortality among older Americans. Most people know that our population is aging. Indeed, by the year 2050 there will be more Americans over the age of 65 than under 18. (9) But what they don't know is that the "age-adjusted" rate for cancer deaths among older Americans has skyrocketed. In 1950, the "age-adjusted" rate for cancer was 158 per 100,000. (10) According to the NCI, it is now 166.9 per 100,000. That's an increase of 5.6%. (11) And it can only get worse.
Based on current cancer rates, the probability of contracting cancer is now 46.6 % for men, and 38.0% for women. (12)
If there is a "war on cancer" we're losing, and losing badly.
But why hasn't there been any progress? Why, after spending tens of billions of dollars on research is cancer still a death sentence for more than half a million Americans every year? Why is the death rate for cancer higher today than it was in 1950? Like so many things, in the end it's all about money and power.
In the coming budget year, the National Cancer Institute will spend over $4.1 billion on cancer research. (13) That's almost $1.2 billion more than the agency spent in 1997. (14) Of this money, fully one-third will be for "non-competitive" grants, money doled out to researchers favored by NCI no matter what their relative merit. (15) Even where grants are competitive, they are just competitive in a financial sense. Only researchers well accepted by the "cancer establishment" need apply.
While the NCI claims that it is looking into alternative and complimentary therapies for cancer treatment the figures suggest otherwise. Congressional sources estimate that total expenditures for alternative cancer therapies in 1999 amounted to about $20 million out of that year's $3.2 billion NCI budget, a figure too small to even warrant a line in the agency's budget! (16)
But research grants are just the tip of the iceberg.
The real jackpot is in treatment. According to Senator Bill Frist, Americans spent $104 billion on doctors, hospitals and drugs to treat cancer in 1999. (17) This is more than twice the roughly $41 billion spent on cancer treatment just six years ago. (18) Is there any wonder that the cancer establishment has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo? Is there any doubt that it would ruthlessly persecute anyone it viewed as a threat to its power and privilege? Sitting in that Baltimore courtroom with my husband, I was gaining an all too personal insight into just how far the cancer establishment would go to silence dissident voices.
The irony is that for most of my life, like most Americans, I had faith in organized medicine. In fact, when I had to go to work after high school, before my father died, my first job was in a doctor's office for a group of obstetricians and gynecologists. It was a job I loved. I found dealing with expectant mothers on a daily basis an uplifting and joyful experience. Welcoming new babies into the world is a life-affirming event. It reminds us that there is always hope for the future.
In such an environment, my faith in traditional medicine might never have been shaken but for one thing; in my early forties I developed fibromyalgia, a debilitating degenerative muscle and connective tissue disease.
Life was a dream. But I should have remembered my father and how fragile dreams could be.
It was in the fifth month of my pregnancy that my fibromyalgia first evidenced itself. I found myself in constant pain. My arms became so weak I was afraid to hold my newborn child for fear of dropping her. The bone structure in my feet shifted and my feet and ankles began to swell. It was painful to walk. I needed air splints and canes for support, and I knew a wheelchair was not far behind. For nine years I could not sleep and I was plagued with a series of life-threatening sinus infections, even after two major sinus surgeries were performed.
Initially the doctors I consulted were at a loss to either diagnose or treat my condition. The only things that seemed to offer any relief were increasing doses of steroids like prednisone, anti-inflammatory agents, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, mood altering drugs and massive doses of antibiotics. This continued for years as I went from treatment to treatment, even having surgery six times in a futile effort to find relief. But it was all to no avail. Then, one day, my life was changed.
On that eventful day my husband said relatives from his first marriage were coming down from Pennsylvania to visit us in Baltimore. We hadn't seen each other in many years. When they arrived, I struggled with my air splints and canes to answer the door. I could see the surprise on their faces. My decade-long struggle with disease had taken a terrible toll. After listening with a sympathetic ear to my litany of treatments and disappointments, they asked if I had ever considered any form of alternative or complimentary medicine as a solution. I hadn't, but was intrigued at the prospect.
Over the years, whenever I asked my physician about alternatives he was short and to the point. As far as he was concerned, it was all snake oil. Just a way to bilk innocent people out of their money. As a result, I had never really pursued the idea, because, after all, he was a doctor, and should know what he was talking about. But these were Neal's former relatives whom I knew would never cheat anyone. All the same, I was in a quandary.
Neal's relatives were telling me that magnets could help my problem, but they didn't stop there. Reaching into a bag they had brought along, they began attaching magnets to my ankles. Days later my physical therapist applied a magnetic pad to my back. When thinking back on how that scene must have appeared, I can't help but laugh.
But I had to do something. Despite my own skepticism, and that of Neal, who, as a trained physicist, thought the notion was nonsense, I was at a point where I felt I had nothing to lose. Maybe my doctor was right, but maybe he wasn't. Clearly, nothing he had to offer seemed to be helping. I can't say that I really believed any alternative therapy would help, much less magnets. But I was desperate to try anything.
I don't think anyone was more surprised than I was when I began to feel better. I had found something that held out the promise of relief: magnetic technology. Moreover, it was a promise that appeared to be gaining a growing following among people who, like me, had found relief for the first time from chronic illnesses.
Even now, it is hard to look back at the devastating effect the disease had on my life. It hit at a time when, after years of struggle, everything seemed to be going so well. I had long since established a successful business career, first with a major corporation and then as an independent businesswoman. I had a successful second marriage to a wonderful man, and had just given birth to my first child. Everything seemed perfect.
But that wasn't all. As I researched magnetic technology, I found that there were literally hundreds of articles in medical journals around the world talking about the benefits of magnetic therapy. While most had been published overseas, some were also in U.S. medical journals. Although the researchers did not all agree on how magnets worked, they all agreed on the potential benefits magnetic therapy offered.
After all those years of pain and desperation, I finally found something that actually seemed to work. But with all the evidence, why hadn't my doctors suggested I look into such an alternative long ago? Why had I been allowed to suffer? Why did my own physician dismiss Neal's relatives out of hand as quacks, without taking the time to learn anything about what they had recommended? The simple answer is that there was too much at stake.
The medical establishment had to dismiss alternative therapies. If an inexpensive, self-administered, natural treatment or therapy existed for a condition, what need was there for regular doctor visits? What need was there for expensive medicines and costly surgery? My eyes were opened in a way I could never imagine. I became a woman with a mission: to help others as I had been helped. Helping people who thought they were beyond help became the source of my greatest satisfaction. But what I did not expect, could not expect, is that it would also ultimately be the cause of my husband's current problem.
Convinced of the value that magnetic technology had as a therapeutic modality, I wanted to share what I had learned through personal experience and research with others. And so, I established a business to help market the products I had found so effective.
It was sheer joy to see others gain the same benefits that had given me a new lease on life. As the business grew, however, my travel schedule became more and more hectic. So much so that my husband decided to close down his own company after 25 years of service to the microwave industry and begin to support me in my new enterprise. It was an exciting time for us, as we came to know and understand the seemingly unlimited new vistas of human health and well being that innovative, alternative therapies could open.
The world seemed perfect, building a business I loved with my husband Neal, the man I loved, by my side. I guess my enthusiasm was infectious, because Neal, too, developed an interest in innovative medicine. Always a scholar, he held degrees in physics and law, Neal became an avid reader on the subject. For the first time in more years than I could count, I was at peace. In this idyllic moment, I could hardly have imagined that dark clouds were gathering on the horizon. But as 1996 opened, a storm was brewing, a storm that continues to this moment.
It all began innocently enough. Neal and I were at a meeting concerning innovative medical technologies when we were introduced to Allen Hoffman. Several years earlier, while visiting a medical clinic in Pennsylvania, Hoffman explained, he had run across a number of old medical journals. Several of them included articles discussing experiments where highly concentrated aloe vera had been administered to patients with HIV infections. According to these journal articles, the results were remarkable. All of the patients had shown marked improvement. Yet Big Medicine continues to use every effort even today to keep this information from the general public.
Fascinated, Hoffman decided to investigate the possibilities of aloe vera on his own. Because all of the medical literature on aloe vera indicated that there was a strong dose/response relationship, Hoffman worked with a leading aloe grower to develop a highly concentrated extract of the whole leaf. An initial supply was produced, and administered to three HIV positive patients. The results, Hoffman said, were just as dramatic as the medical journal articles suggested they would be. All three of his subjects showed immediate improvement and vigor. Most important, not only were the patients feeling better, but their count of "T-cells," the cells the immune system produces to fight off invaders, had sharply increased as well.
Encouraged, Hoffman gave his concentrated aloe vera to still more HIV infected patients. The results were identical. All of them, he told us, demonstrated marked improvement within a few weeks, and all of them experienced significant increases in their T-cell count. After a time, however, as Hoffman utilized aloe vera for other conditions, he came to believe that the aloe was doing more than just increasing T-cells. Such an increase could not, by itself, be responsible for the stunning results he was seeing. There had to be more going on. He finally concluded that his aloe vera concentrate was simultaneously stimulating the body's immune system and modulating the autoimmune system. This made it possible for the body's natural defenses to ward off a wide range of diseases.
Hoffman was excited at the potential for his product, hopefully even as a means of fighting cancer. As we listened to Hoffman's impassioned description of what concentrated aloe vera could do, Neal and I became caught up in his vision too, a vision with the prospect of bringing newfound relief to millions. In fact, what Hoffman was saying about treating serious diseases seemed to be a perfect compliment to something Neal was already interested in: the potential of non-radioactive cesium chloride (a naturally occurring salt) to fight cancer.
Hoffman had an immediate problem: money. He had little experience in business, and had been underwriting his investigation of aloe vera out of his own pocket. His personal resources were exhausted and he was seeking financial backing to continue his work. To Neal, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine his interest in alternative medicine and his vast experience in business.
But as a scientist, Neal wanted to see tangible proof of Hoffman's claims before agreeing to help. Hoffman complied, providing a number of patient case histories which Neal carefully checked out. After satisfying himself that Hoffman's claims were indeed valid, Neal agreed to help Hoffman by providing an initial $200,000 in financing to market his product. A company called "T-UP, Inc." was formed to do the marketing, with Allen running day to day operations, and Neal merely providing the capital.
To Neal, the investment in T-UP, Inc. was not about money. In fact, he only drew a salary long enough to recoup the start-up money he provided. His real purpose was the hope of doing something good.
Neal had spent most of his business life working on highly sensitive military technologies. While Neal was proud of the work he had done for his country, the notion of devoting his time and attention to something that would help save rather than perhaps destroy lives appealed to him.
Despite Neal's good intentions, this proved to be a fateful decision. It would open the door for my family to fall victim to a perverse combination of callous political opportunism, bureaucratic over-reaching, and media sensationalism.
What Neal did not understand when he agreed to help Hoffman was that the more successful the treatment was, the more likely it was that he would eventually come under attack. Indeed, what was happening to Neal was not unique. Rather, it was consistent with a pattern of behavior that can be documented over at least five decades. It is a pattern characterized by intimidation, suppression, and the exercise of raw bureaucratic power. Ultimately, it is a pattern that runs roughshod over the principles so basic to American democracy.
- "Cancer Facts and Figures 1999" National Cancer Institute, Washington, D.C. 1999
- World Almanac 2000
- National Cancer Institute, SEER database
- U.S. Census Bureau
- "Cancer Care in the Elderly: Cost and Quality of Life Considerations" Lyman, Gary H. MD et al in Cancer Economics based on a paper presented at the Third Annual Conference on Geriatric Oncology, November, 1996.
- "Cancer Facts and Figures 1999" National Cancer Institute, Washington, D.C. 1999
- Lyman, op cit.
- National Cancer Institute Budget
- "Cancer Facts and Figures 1999" op cit.
- National Cancer Institute Budget
- Interview with Beth Clay, Counsel, House Government Reform Committee
- "Senator Frist Shows Support For National Cancer March; Hangs Stars In Honor OF Those Affected By Disease" Press Release September 27, 1998
- "Cancer Facts and Figures 1999" op cit.
About Kathleen Deoul
Internationally acclaimed wellness advocate Kathleen B. Deoul founded Cassandra Books. In taking this step, Kathleen hopes to bring her message of health and hope to people all over the world. Full profile
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