It’s almost 20 years since I met my first disappearing patient. A nurse in her early 40s, let’s call her Kate. Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a nurse, she had seen the results of treatments for breast cancer. She was terrified, and determined. She was not heading for surgery, nor chemotherapy, nor radiation.
But Kate worked in a hospital. She worked with the doctors who diagnosed her cancer, and she worked with the surgeon, who wanted to schedule her into surgery “as soon as possible”.
The first thing Kate did was slow down.
She did some research. It didn’t take her long to remind herself that in Canada, and in the USA, the treatments for cancer are akin to law. No hospital would dare deviate from the deadly three.
Kate’s cancer was not large. She had been tested for cancer last year. And no cancer was found. She knew it took many years for cancers to develop. At first she was furious “If it is here today, it must have been here last year. Why didn’t you find it last year.” It had not metastasized. It was not growing rapidly and was not affecting her health in any way. In theory, she had lots of time. So, she took some time.
But Kate didn’t look for magic cures. She didn’t search for the latest ‘cancer medicine’. She wasn’t interested in curing herself. She knew she was a nurse, not a doctor.
She searched instead for the ‘cured’. Patient who were diagnosed with cancer, and no longer had cancer. She knew, from her work in the hospital, from conversations with patients, and with some staff, that these people existed, but they seemed to disappear.
It didn’t take her long to find some patients who claimed they were cured. They hadn’t disappeared from life. They were eating, drinking, living, loving, full healthy and prosperous lives. But according to the medical records, they didn’t exist. They were never cured.
The medical system treated their cures as ‘anecdotal’. It ignored them. There was no attempt by any doctors to understand what happened to these cancer patients. They were no longer sick. The medical system looks after sick patients, treats sick patients. These patients were not sick.
Kate looked, and listened. Her interest was not clinical science vs anecdotal evidence. Her interest was personal. She talked, listened, compared stories. From several, she learned about a clinic that did not claim to cure cancer. It did not use medicines to treat cancers. But patients were cured, somehow. This clinic was not in Canada. It was not in the USA. She would have to go to Mexico to learn more.
There are lots of alternative treatment clinics in Mexico. Are some of them valid, using important techniques to cure cancers? Are some of them scams, wanting to take money from desperate clients? Do some of them have a cure that works sometimes, but might not work for her? Kate didn’t know. She did more research. She called the clinic.
The staff did not claim to cure cancer. Claiming to cure cancer is dangerous, even for a clinic outside of North America. The suggested Kate visit the clinic, and see what happens there, no charge for a visit, but she would need to pay for her travel to Mexico. Kate had done her research. She had met and talked to patients whose cancers had disappeared.
Kate made her decision. She was familiar with cancer diagnosis techniques in Canada. She had undergone a physical examination, a mammogram, that detected a lump in her breast. Then she had a biopsy, where tissue was taken from the lump and was sent to a lab for analysis. The lab technician tested and examined the sample and issued a diagnosis ‘cancer’, or ‘not cancer’. Once the diagnosis is issued, everybody swings into action. Kate knew that the mammogram had a high false positive rate and a false negative rate. Many people who are diagnosed with a ‘possible cancer’ by a mammogram to not actually have cancer. She was also aware that cancer biopsies have a false positive rate, and a false negative rate as well. Her work in the hospital, with real patients, had made this very clear.
She didn’t really know for certain if she had cancer. Her surgeon, on the other hand, was still pressing her to schedule treatment.
Kate knew one thing. She had time. She cashed out some savings and booked a ‘holiday’ in Mexico.
At the clinic, Kate was surprised that there was no ‘cancer diagnosis’. They did check the presence and size of the lump on her breast. But they didn’t repeat the biopsy. The clinic read her diagnostic reports, but did not investigate them further. There was instead a very thorough analysis, completed by a suite of doctors. It took two full days of tests and interviews, if I remember correctly.
Kate was asked about her family’s medical histories. She gave blood samples. She was questioned extensively about her diet, about what she eats on a regular basis. What foods does she like and eat often. What foods does she not like, and never eat. Doctors examined her lungs, her heart, liver, and other bodily organs with various tests. Her immune system was tested. Extensive interviews about her life, her work, her relationships, and more.
At the time I talked to Kate, I didn’t realize that she was not getting a ‘medical analysis’, she was actually getting a ‘healthicine analysis’. Her tests and questions fit perfectly to the hierarchy of healthicine: genetics, nutrition, cells, tissues, organs, bodily systems, body, mind, spirit, and community.
Kate’s genetics were analyzed through family history. There may have been further genetic analysis, I don’t remember all of the details. Her nutritional status was analyzed, not just by analyzing what she ate, and what she preferred to eat, but also by studying what she didn’t like to eat, what she deliberately never ate, what foods she believed she was allergic to. Her cells and tissues were analyzed directly, through blood samples and physical examination, and indirectly through medical history and other tests. Many of her organs were tested for healthiness. Her bodily systems, immune system, circulatory system respiratory system, hormonal systems and more were analyzed and assessed. Her physical body was measured, weighed, and examined. Her mental health was assessed, as was her spiritual healthiness. She was in good spirits, even in light of a potentially life threatening illness. Her community health was analyzed as well. Her family, her relationships with her children, her spouse, her parents, her work community and more.
After a few days, Kate met with a group of doctors to discuss her health, not her illness, her healthiness. Diagnosing illness is difficult. Analyzing healthiness is more complex. It took several doctors, and several hours for Kate to learn and understand what they had learned about her healthiness and her unhealthiness.
They then ‘prescribed’ two weeks, if I remember correctly, of healthiness training, tailored to Kate’s specific situation. She spent the next two weeks at the clinic, learning to be healthier, not learning how to be ‘healthier in principle’, rather — learning what Kate needed to do to make her diet, her body, her mind, her spirits, and even her relationships with her communities healthier. She could not change her work community. But she could change how she reacted to and interacted with it — to improve her own health. After two weeks of learning, at the clinic, her breast lump had started to shrink.
Kate went back to Canada, to put her learning into action. The lump disappeared. Her diagnosis was still there on paper. But her ‘cancer’ had disappeared. She was retested at her hospital, and no cancer was found.
Then Kate began to disappear. When the surgeon asked again, she explained that she was not going to surgery. The surgeon looked away. He refused to look her in the eye after that.
She didn’t disappear from her family. She went back to her family. She didn’t disappear from her job. She went back to her job. She disappeared from the cancer system. Her cancer disappeared, so, as a cancer patient, she disappeared.
Was she cured? We don’t know. There is no useful definition of a cancer cure. No medical or scientific test that can prove a patient has been cured of cancer. Our cancer treatment statistics have no count for people who are cured of cancer. Patients that are cured, whether they are cured with medicines, or not, are not counted. No breast cancer patients are officially cured by medicine. If their cancer goes away without treatment, they disappear from statistics. If their cancer is killed by radiation, chemotherapy or surgery, they are not cured, they are a ‘survivor’. Everyone knows that cancer survivors are always waiting for the cancer to re-appear. Their symptoms are in remission, but their cancer is not cured. They are not cured. With no proof of a cure, it might just be hidden.
Kate no longer has cancer. She paid, from her own pocket, for her trip to a clinic in Mexico. After the trip, her cancer disappeared. She had medical insurance. But her insurance wouldn’t pay for her trip. Insurance pays for treatments, not for cures. It pays for treatments, even if they fail. But it does not pay for success. Success disappears.
There are two ways for a cancer patient to disappear. You might cured by health. Or, you might be cured by a medicine that is not approved. In both cases, the medical system will ignore the cure, and ignore the patient.
In healthicine, there are no incurable diseases. If it is not curable — it is not a disease, it is a handicap, a disability, a deficiency, or simply an attribute of the person. All diseases can be cured by definition.
I have since met several cancer patients who have disappeared, and not just cancer patients. Maybe you have too? I’ve met more by internet, email, etc. There is no way for me to determine if a disappeared patient actually had cancer, if their treatment cured their cancer, if their body cured their cancer, or if they still have cancer. We can only tell if there is another cancer diagnosis. Nothing can be told from the absence of a diagnosis.
There is no way for any doctor to tell either. There are no tests for a cancer cure. There is no way to recognize, much less document a cancer cure. There are no statistics for cancers cured.
Many cured patients don’t disappear quietly. They speak out. They write books and newspaper articles. They blog. But it doesn’t matter. They still don’t count. Once cured, they disappear. The medical system does not study their cases, does not study their diagnosis, does not study their cures. For chronic diseases, like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, even obesity, and many more, there are no techniques to document ‘cured patients’. As a result, there are no statistics for ‘cured patients’ of any chronic illness.
Once they are cured, they disappear. Health doesn’t cure illness, it disappears illness. And medicine doesn’t count people who have disappeared.
… to your health, Tracy Kolenchuk
PS. If you are, or if you know someone who disappeared their incurable illness, drop a note in the comments, or send me an email. I’m always interested in these cases, and I hope that someday, our medical systems will be interested in them as well.
Written by Tracy Kolenchuk for Healthicine ~ July 27, 2015