An Open Letter from the Son of a Cancer Victim
to Anyone Dealing with Cancer
Bill RossI believe that the organization People Against Cancer (PAC), headed by Frank Wiewel, is engaged in activity that is harmful to cancer sufferers and their families. My opinion is based on the experience my mother and I had with the organization beginning about June of 1996.
June 29, 1998
June of '96 marked a low point in my mother's fight to survive metastatic breast cancer. My mother had been fighting the recurrence of breast cancer since May of 1993, and now 3 years later it was looking very grim. Mom had been on at least three different chemo regimens. She'd had fluid drained from her pleural space many times, and fluid drained from her abdomen several times due to malignant ascites, radiation and surgery.
My listing the above treatments in no way conveys the physical and emotional suffering that they represent, and I'm sure most of you familiar with cancer know this very well. In spite of the difficulties associated with conventional treatments, it is our belief that most of these measures helped relieve cancer symptoms that were about to kill my mother or were making her daily life nearly unbearable. I am grateful for what Mom's medical caregivers did to help.
But in May of '96 it was clear that conventional medicine was running out of ways to help my mother, but my mother was not ready to give up the fight. We became more interested than ever in more unconventional ways to try and combat the disease. After watching a news program on the controversial Burzynski Clinic in Texas, Mom contacted them. They wrote back stating they did not think their treatment would be likely to help, and recommended Frank Wiewel's People Against Cancer (PAC) as an organization to try.
Mom contacted PAC and received a packet from them in June. The packet included a membership form, patient questionaire, free sample issue of their newsletter, and a copy of the PAC Catalogue. In their letter they closed by saying "We urge you to join People Against Cancer and help us in our humanitarian efforts worldwide." This statement continues to bother me, as I have doubts about Frank Wiewel's "humanitarian efforts worldwide".
I was skeptical that this oranization would be helpful to Mom, but I kept my thoughts to myself. It was my mother's life and death struggle, and I had decided some time before that unless I thought she was making a serious mistake, I would keep my doubts to myself.
PAC's literature spoke of their "Alternative Therapy Program", and this seemed to be the best way to get the most out of their services. In their introductory letter they describe the program in one paragraph. They call it "a comprehensive counseling service", "for those seeking guidance regarding therapeutic alternatives."
This "Alternative Therapy Program" is one of the several reasons that I don't care for PAC. I think it is of dubious value, I thought it a waste of time and money for my mother, and it may do much more serious harm than any good. I cannot prove it is a "rip-off", but I suspect it is. It cost $250 for my mother to join, plus related expenses, and now (June of 1998) it is up to $350.
In the catalogue they sent my mother is a page devoted to the "Alternative Therapy Program". Page 4 starts out with one paragraph in italics: "People Against Cancer, a non-profit public interest group, has developed a revolutionary new program for people with cancer called the Alternative Therapy Program. The goal of this program is to provide options for people with cancer. Our aim is to answer the complex questions about treatment alternatives. What therapy might be best? What Approach might offer the best chances for survival and quality of life? We feel it is important to understand all options from conventional to alternatives in order for people to make truly informed decisions about treatment. We believe people with cancer have very fundamental rights -- the right to know and the right to choose."
The above statement sounds good on the surface, but the problem is when you analyze it. Who is PAC and Frank Wiewel to deliver on the above? To my knowledge Mr. Wiewel is not a physician or health care expert. I also am not aware that his organization is competent to help the public "make truly informed decisions about treatment". My experience is they have a bunch of information on alternatives they lay on you in a sloppy fashion, and in the meantime trash conventional medicine. Where is the science? Does PAC really know about what works best, or how to help one find what works best? I don't think so. They talk a pretty good story, but what they deliver is very lacking and potentially very harmful.
A look at their list of some of "over 4,000 books in our library - the world's first Library of Alternative Therapies." can give one a good idea of the hodge podge array of goods they hock. Much of the so-called library is composed of books that arguably have little to do with legitimate science or cancer. And they have some things containing serious misinformation, such as the Hulda Clark garbage with titles like The Cure for All Cancers and the Cure For All Diseases. If one looks to PAC or their library for help in making cancer decisions they will most likely come away more confused than ever. And as far as I know their "library" sells books, it doesn't lend them out like the type of library most are used to.
My mother sent in her $250, and set to work trying to get together the information they request when you wish to utilize the "Alternative Therapy Program". Getting this info together is not easy , especially for a cancer sufferer who is weak, in pain and emotionally distraught. They ask that you "fill out a copy of our Medical History Questionaire and provide us with photocopies of all medical records from the diagnosis to the present time. We require two standard blood tests taken within the last 14 days, these include: 1) a complete Blood Count (CBC with differential); and 2) a Blood Chemistry (CMAC with 22 determinations or more)."
PAC describes how they will distribute your questionaire and medical records to "select physicians and researchers in the Network." I don't know what "Network" this is or how it is chosen. I seriously doubt their "Network" is scientifically chosen by knowledgable medical professionals. I believe it is made up of controversial cancer treatment figures that have little legitimate verifiable science to back them up.
My mother sent to PAC what medical information she could get together. I still remember her feverishly working to get what she could to them. I helped some, but my mother was not one to ask ask or accept from others what she felt she could do herself. Mom then did as PAC requests after you get them the information. They state "After five working days, we ask the person with cancer to call People Against Cancer and schedule an appointment for a telephone consultation to get the results of our search.
My mother made the appointment, and on June 24, 1996 she spoke with Frank Wiewel at length as I listened in. I do not remember all of the conversation, but I do remember the tone and the outcome. My mother was generally a good student, and as they talked she took notes.
The following is what my mother wrote down as Frank Wiewel, who is not a physician, spoke:
|2,000 - 4,000 mg. a day - vitamin C
2 gm. a day - ""4"" times a day
calcium, mag, pot. manganese
vitamin E - 400 mg. (tell doctor)
handful parsley (squeeze into ball)
IT. flax soil - 500 (2 in morning)
4 mg. per # body wt. (2 in evening)
cur-cumin (tumeric-a root)
90% 6cap - 500 mg.
2-3 x a day
1 - Garlic
Salmon, North Am. fish
beans & rice
Essiac 2-3 x a day
|Pau de arco (Tahebo)
gal of fluid a day
have MRI of abdomen done
Honeywell - ENVIROCARE - hypofiltration
Don't use microwave
Dr. Jack Taylor's program $500 + $500 (curative)
1. Gerson or Taylor for the diet
2. Dr. Dinopolous
(urea & creatine)
3. Hyper-thermia (use the bathtub)
4. Hyperbaric oxygenation (high pressure oxygen)
5. Coley's toxins (fever reaction)
6. IAT (feels he can help me)
Dr. Clement (Med. Dir.) (Dr. Burton started the clinic)
(Dr. Taylor's diet & IAT)
7. Dr. Nagourney
After the phone conversation we hung up and looked at each other. My mother asked me something like "what do you think?" As I remember, I paused and said "I don't know." Then she said "I know." The bottom line became we pretty much decided to forget about PAC at that point. It seemed like a lot of quack advice from an individual with no significant medical training that I am aware of. We probably could have done better by buying one of the many alternative cancer books out there and saved a lot of time, energy, emotional let-down and money. Frank Wiewel did not clear away any confusion, he added to it and then some.
My mother accepted the reality that it would probably not be long for her to live. We had done a lot of hard work, and a lot of searching for help. It was becoming clear that she did not have the strength to continue fighting, and she decided to enjoy as much as possible whatever time she had left. People Against Cancer was one of those dead ends we would have been better off not taking. My mother passed away on January 12, 1997, of breast cancer.
If Frank Wiewel reads this and has a problem he is free to contact me. They have our address. On December 15 of 1997 they sent Mom a "Season's Greetings" letter. In it they ask "Janet, we hope you will help us with a generous gift donation this year." Seems they might have considered my mother may not be alive anymore before sending this letter. I wonder how much money Frank Wiewel pulls out of his "non-profit, public benefit organization."
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This article was posted on August 29, 2005.