Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I Wrote My Will at 26: Part 2, Health Troubles and the Law

If you're thinking of putting your own last wishes into writing, or even leaving a crummy bag of sand behind for your loved ones to sift through, there are a few things you should know.  First off, I didn't have a legal bone in my body back then, and at this point the makeup of my bones is still pretty ambiguous, so please don't take this as a substitute for legal advice; it's a series of guidelines I've come by through my own experience with end-of-life matters.  If you have legitimate concerns, be sure to talk to an attorney.

Or maybe become an attorney yourself.
You can start by reading all of these highly entertaining tomes.

Credit: Leonid Dzhepko, Legal Translator

And if you don't have time to go to law school, you can try some practical solutions instead.  Turns out there are things that everyone can, and should, do, without shelling out extravagant legal fees and bankrupting themselves even further in the midst of a crisis.  It's important to be aware of your options, so that if you need to, you can get your affairs in order quickly and efficiently.  Recently, I sat down with Peter Ollen, attorney and owner at, and he told me just how to do that.

"The most important thing," he says, is to "have a properly executed will, witnessed and notarized.  And make sure it's retrievable."  This is the ideal scenario.  It seems simple, but an an ABC poll from last August suggests that only half of all people have a will.  A 2011 article from Business Insider puts the number of people without a will closer to 60%.  And the percentage of young adults under thirty who haven't penned their last wishes is reported to be 92%.  Very basically, you need to have everything you want or need written out in detail, make sure it's legally binding, and know where to find it.  "If not," Ollen says, "There's a default pecking order.  Absent of a will, spouse or parents make your decisions."  There are also taxes involved with death, and you have to make sure all those pesky bills are paid, otherwise loved ones may get stuck with them.

But what if you're young, like say, my age, and something happens to you, similar to what I went through?  How do you have your affairs together then, when you've barely started out in life?  "There are resources online," says Ollen.  "You can buy forms from, for instance, that are guaranteed resources.  You can also reach out to your state bar association; they have pro bono and basic guidance available for these situations.  If you don't have the resources to get an attorney, reach out to LegalZoom or other document depos.  They can offer guidance and the state bar may be able to fill out the forms for you.  And, if you're worried about your time or escalating situation, give someone power of attorney so they can handle all this for you, while you focus on the bigger issues."

These guys know what's up. 
Credit: Daniel Schwen

You can't always think clearly in the midst of a health crisis.  I know I couldn't.  So it's a good idea to get things squared away before you ever get into one.  If you're getting to the point where it's difficult to juggle, Ollen suggests that you assign someone power of attorney.  Make sure it's someone you trust, like a family member or spouse.  They'll handle all the legal decisions for you, while you focus on what's really important -- your health.

I didn't have a will going into my cancer diagnosis, or a power of attorney.  I ended up writing a letter that I would have tried to pass off as a will had things gone awry.  But simply having something in writing isn't enough.  Unless, like me, the point of leaving something behind was more for the message you planned to send your family and friends, than it was for the material goods and wealth.  Even so, what little you have to give could inspire debate among your loved ones, and even turmoil.  Any amount of stressing over who gets what in a time of loss can trigger intense emotional reactions.  It's better to be safe and settled, than not have a plan at all.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Wrote My Will at 26

"And my collection of geographically accurate boogers goes to..."

I wrote my will at the age of 26.  It's infused with comedic zingers, and is in no way legal -- but hey, it's a will, nonetheless.

During the period leading up to my second surgery, after I was diagnosed with cancer at 25, I wrote what would become a symbolic offering of what little I had in those days.  I wanted to have something in writing that would tie up all the loose ends in my young life.  Turns out, having lived only a quarter of a century, there weren't very many loose ends to worry about.  Though I'd heard that it's better to have something in writing than to check out without making any kind of arrangements.  Turns out that isn't entirely accurate, but I didn't know that at the time.  So I drafted this letter.  No one knows that I did this, not even my family.

At the time, I was doing a lot of sitting around and feeling sorry for myself.  I laid on the couch at my parents' townhouse, watching TV, curled up under a snuggie, slowly losing the ability to cope with my evolving circumstances.  Mostly though, I was feeling sorry that I had to leave my family, and that I had nothing to offer that would soften the blow.  The thought of dying so early, loved ones gathered around to bury me, their faces twisted in mourning, was too much to bear.  It spawned thoughts of my parents splitting up, my sister's new marriage falling apart, and all three of them slipping further into the depths of grief, never to return.  And all that would be my fault.  I would be the cause of so much suffering for the people I cared about most.

My parents were getting older, and money was getting tighter and tighter.  My sister had gotten married during the summer, two months before I was diagnosed with cancer.  Mom and Dad paid for the majority of the wedding.  Shortly after, they'd sold my childhood home and bought a townhouse an hour up the road in State College, PA.  In doing so, they signed on to another mortgage, late in life, against their better judgment.  None of this would've been a problem, had I not shattered the illusion of youthful permanence and gotten myself all genetically mutated.

"There's a pen growing out of your brain, just like this."
Source: National Cancer Institute

The day of my first surgery was the day my parents closed on the new townhouse.  I sat in the office with them, that morning, listening to small talk thrown out by the lawyer and the real estate agent, all the while doing my best to remember that life hadn't stopped for them as it had for me, and they didn't have any idea that directly following this appointment I was hopping in the car with my family and traveling three hours to Pittsburgh to go under the knife for the first time in my life.

I also knew that this was cancer, and that it could very well be terminal.  That thought never left my mind.  I wanted to reach over to the console and hit the reset button like I'd done so many times as a child, sitting cross-legged in front of the TV in the basement, controller and princess-saving aspirations in hand.  But there was no reset button in my case.  I would be forced to deal with whatever came next, no matter how horrible.

Now that I think of it, Kirby kinda looks like a tumor...
Source: Andrew Evans

The possibility that I wouldn't make it loomed over the car on our drive to Pittsburgh like a dark cloud, hovering like a silent threat.  For a long while, I was able to stare right back into its core, challenging its authority over me.  Clouds like that cut through to your soul, and wear down your courage over time, until you begin to see the world, and the possible end of yours, in a more practical light.  "Well," you eventually say, stealing a glance at the blackening sky, "Maybe now it's time to prepare for the worst."

I wanted to provide for my family, but at the age of 26, I had nothing to provide.  And I realized how sad it was that I had to write a will with no real "willing" involved at all.  The only thing of real value I could give away were the emotions I felt for the people who would read it after I was gone, and I spread them liberally throughout.  I needed to make sure they all knew how I felt.  And if I couldn't give them anything of material value, I would leave my family and friends with a message of undying love.  I didn't want to leave my family without giving them something in return.  They had given me so much already.  Thoughts of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ran through my mind, and the introductory scene where Harrison Ford is stealing a jewel and replacing it with a bag of sand to avoid setting off the trap.  My family had handed me a great jewel -- a lifetime of opportunities, love, and support, and I had only this crummy bag of sand to offer in return.  It didn't work in the movie, I thought, and it won't work now.

My 26th birthday was spent hobbling over to my sister's house for dinner, ice cream cake, and presents.  I was still healing from that first surgery, which was actually a two-fer that included separate procedures.  It was a combo situation like you find at family restaurants.

Me: "I'll have surgical combo A, please."
Waitress: "Would you like that with or without post-surgical bruising?"
Me: "Oh, I don't know.  What do you recommend?"
Waitress: "I recommend the bruising.  You won't be able to sit down practically anywhere, and you'll break the towel rack in your sister's house the first time you have to poop."
Me: "Interesting.  I guess I'll give it a go."
Waitress: "Excellent choice.  And how about a side of surgical drains?"
Me: "Hmm... I might pass on those this time."
Waitress: "Sounds good.  You make sure to try them next time."
Me: "Thanks, I'll keep the drains in mind."
Waitress: "I'll be right back with your IV and a pre-op syringe.  You'll be seeing pelicans and singing obnoxiously in the key of F in no time."
Me: "Can't wait."

"I'd like to avoid the anal leakage, if possible."
Source: Alan Light

I was uber sensitive to the situation in which I found myself.  I had just gotten through my first set of procedures to remove lethal cancer from my body.  I was just 26.  Though I'd dated a lot, I'd only had a few real adult relationships, I'd only had one real job of any import, I'd never made a splash, and at this point it was possible that I never would.  I had nothing to leave behind; I had no legacy.  My whole life, I'd wanted to be a writer.  I hadn't done much to pursue that goal, but I began to write a memoir about my experience with cancer.  And then I wrote a will.  I decided that I could write at least that much.  It was possible that I'd be dead, and the memoir would never be finished.  This will, or letter, would be my legacy.

And so I wrote the letter that would become my will, in the hopes that someone would take pity on me and see that my family survived the worst case scenario.  Because, at the age of 26, without any real prospects, pity was all I had.  Which lead me to thinking, "What should I have had at this point?"

I'll be answering that question in a series of posts that I hope will help shed some light on how easy it is to be prepared for life's worst case scenarios.  In Part 2, we'll talk about the legal issues associated with end-of-life situations, as well as what the average, healthy person should have in place.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Dangers of Alternative Health: 3 Treatments That Can Cause Some Serious Damage

Source: Rangbaz
Alternative medicine, or folk medicine, has reemerged in recent years as an actual substitute for concrete medical science.  It's a concerning fad, since most people simply don't do the research required to filter out the dangerous and ineffective treatments from the ones that have shown real benefits in clinical trials.  And they give up or postpone conventional treatment in favor of some of these.  A decision like that should never be made light of, or insulted, because it can come equipped with a lot of emotional baggage, and involves the quality of life or survival of the person making it.

The real problem lies in the overall state of health education in America.  Healthcare is one of the most politically-charged subjects there is nowadays, and it can be hard to sift through the rhetoric to get to the truth.  But it's not impossible.  A lot of the responsibility lies on the patient to be his or her own advocate, doing the research and coming to the best conclusion about proceeding with treatment.  It's on the government, the media, and big business to create an ethical, consistent, and efficient model for educating and distributing accurate information about healthcare going forward.  I'm not holding my breath though, and for that reason, I highly suggest that if there's a treatment you've heard about, or are looking into, that you please find the actual clinical trials or research surrounding that particular item and uncover the recorded outcomes and weigh them against other treatment options, before you buy into any alternative treatment.

President Barrack Obama's signature on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Source: US Federal Government

What, specifically, does "alternative medicine" entail?  For starters, anything that isn't medicine.  Because, "If alternative medicine worked, it would be called medicine."  I'll run through two of the fads I've come across recently and provide the actual scientific evidence to refute them.

Here we go:

1.) Coffee Enemas.

Because, if you have cancer, everyone knows the best tool you can possibly use to treat your illness isn't conventional, peer-reviewed, FDA approved medical science, it's sticking coffee into your rectum.  When I was going through treatment, I don't know how I missed this amazing miracle cure.  It's possible that I overlooked it because it doesn't work, and it isn't medicine, and it isn't science.  Maybe.

Just stick that hose where the sun don't shine.
Source: Rocket Packs Coffee Dispenser

Coffee Enemas are said to relieve toxicity in your bowels left from all the random toxins that cling to your large intestines throughout your life, left by the foods that you eat.  First off, digestion occurs in your small intestine.  So umm... what?  Any toxin-releasing chemical reactions are over by the time your large intestine gets involved.  Nice try, though.  Oh, but the toxins get caught in your liver, because it's not a highly evolved toxin-filtering biological machine or anything like that (it is, actually), so the caffeine penetrates all the way to the liver and draws out the toxins there.  Okay, so maybe just check your liver enzymes the next time you're at your PCP, and if they're out of whack, why not try the regular stuff like refining your dietary intake first, before you shoot hot coffee into your bum?  Or if they aren't out of whack, maybe don't let some random quack convince you that you're sick because you have "toxins" in your body?

For some reason, this God-awful treatment is back by popular demand.  It seems that some sort of colon therapy has been in use since at least Ancient Egypt (which should already be a red flag).  Coffee Enemas in particular have been in use since the early twentieth century, gaining in popularity until mainstream science decided to research the effectiveness of the treatment, and found it not only ineffective, but dangerous.  In recent years, the treatment is gaining steam, however ineffective and dangerous it may be.  Coffee Enemas cause death and infections related to (ironically) introducing toxins into the body (yay!), as well as complications from damage to the intestinal walls.  Not only that, there is no official certification procedure for this garbage, so anyone can do it.  And if they don't understand how to clean the equipment properly... well, now you have someone else's coffee-flavored poop in your body.  And you thought you were getting rid of toxins.

For further reading on Colon Therapy and Coffee Enemas, you can find an explanation from the American Cancer Society, here.  Or, why not read the Wikipedia article?

2.) Gerson Therapy:

Some dude moved to Mexico in order to legally sell you a complicated series of therapeutic nonsense involving (what else?) Coffee Enemas.  And juice.  There's apparently a regimen of juices.  I hope they don't also go in your rectum.  All this for the low, low, snake oil price of $6,000 a week. Curing cancer never looked so easy.

Yep, that looks about right.

So what's the problem with this one, aside from the aforementioned Arabica-style colon cleanse?  The fact that it doesn't work, either?  That's a start, but let's break it down.  Gerson Therapy also irrationally revolves around the theory that diseases are caused by toxins in the body.  The addition here is the nutritional aspect: a strict regimen of fresh juices and supplements, force-fed at hourly intervals.  Similarly, there is no documented evidence that any of this provides any medicinal value at all.  In fact, studies have shown that the dangers outweigh the results -- and since the results are nonexistent, it isn't that tough to outweigh them.  Gerson patients can be poisoned by some of the supplements, and run into the same dangers from the Coffee Enemas.

For more information on Gerson Therapy, read this explanation from the American Cancer Society.  Highlights include:

"The National Cancer Institute and New York County Medical Society examined records of his patients and found no evidence that the method was effective against cancer."

"Relying on this treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences."

3.) Detox Treatments.

The only benefits ever recorded from detox treatments are anecdotal.  They include, increased energy and higher cognitive functioning.  Most rational nutritionists ascribe these benefits to the fact that detox diets require the detoxer to stop eating foods high in fat or preservative content that they shouldn't have been eating in the first place.  The simple act of removing processed or junk foods from the diet has made them feel healthier.  I can vouch for this, myself.  After converting to vegetarianism, I've been trying hard to avoid processed foods and ingredient lists with things I can't pronounce.  This has made me feel better, whether the effects are real, or psychosomatic.  As with all alternative health treatments, the placebo effect applies.

The main argument for the continued use of detox treatments is the removal of toxins from the body.  Here's an anatomy lesson -- your body removes toxins from your body.  Seriously, it does.  You are an organic machine with over three million years of ancestry.  If there are are toxins and imbalances in your body, you'll filter them out.

Detoxing can be a dangerous treatment, as it removes vital nutrients from your body while restricting your dietary intake.  Signs of malnutrition include fatigue, loss of appetite, poor wound healing, fatty liver, hypotension, loss of reflexes, impaired memory, and more.  It can lead to all kinds of terrible metabolic and genetic malfunctions if it isn't fixed.  It's best to consult your doctor before you try something like this, and even better not to try it at all.

For more information on detox diets, check out this piece from Science Daily.

For more on nutritional research and cancer, read this article from Reuters: "Treat nutrition and cancer research cautiously: study."

All of these therapies involve the assumption that cancer and other illnesses are somehow connected to increased amounts of mysterious "toxins" in the body.  There are other related treatments that make the same claim and also have no clinical evidence to back up their effectiveness, nor do they attest to the accuracy of the founding hypothesis (antioxidant, garlic, red wine, tea, vitamin D).  The truth is, we are complex, evolutionary creatures of wonder, who have developed vast regulatory systems to avoid just such a buildup of these toxins, whatever their particular makeup.  The kidneys and liver filter out any such substances that could negatively impact your health, and they've done this your whole life, free of charge.  If you'd like to read about a real disorder involving actual toxic infections related to bacteria, perhaps research Sepsis.  If you'd like to read an additional explanation of the lack of evidence related to toxins and detox treatments, here's a great one from the Mayo Clinic.

Put simply, detoxing will not cure your chronic illness.  It will be cured when we understand the genetic or epigenetic cause, and can reverse the mechanisms that enabled it.  Please don't pass on conventional medical science in favor of poop coffee, or any other ridiculous treatment.  Or at least do a quick Google search beforehand.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Far Have You Come?

The Allegory of the Winding Road

Life moves in curves, and currents.  There are corners to be strolled or cut, and obstacles to be leaped or removed.  The path winds down through the years with unyielding certainty -- the certainty is that the bends in this road will never stop.  How far have you come, through the winding pathways of life?  

Personally, I've gotten to a place in my life I never thought I'd be again.  Not ever.  I stumbled through violent switchbacks in recent years, only to come out in a place where I figured the road only lead in one direction, and that I would just have to deal with it.  But I was wrong.  There I was, finding myself rummaging through memories of when things were different, holding dear to my heart a spark of something I imagined I'd never see again.  I thought I would never hold a job again, or have a savings account again, or live in the places I wanted to live.  Mundane things mostly, but when you take them all under consideration, you find out that what you really believe is that there's no chance for you to lead a normal life.  I thought I was banned from a normal life, resigned to standing outside the gates, fingers wrapped around the bars, peering in at others going about their business, taking it all for granted.  And looking in at all the scurrying bodies and blurred faces, continuing on down the road to their own likely destinations, I was reminded of the other things I wouldn't have -- the things that hurt the most.  I thought I'd never love again, or be loved.  I wasn't worthy of anyone's love, sometimes not even my own.  And that I'd never have a family, or live with someone, or buy a house, and have children.  For a long while I thought that was okay, and it was just the cards I'd been dealt.  I would live with my revelations and move on.  

But your circumstances, or the events in your life, or the setbacks you feel so deeply, do not define the course of your happiness.  At any point in time, you can walk around another bend, and suddenly find exactly what you've been looking for.  That doesn't mean you have to wait around for it, trotting silently into the dusk with no direction.  Although unfortunately, most tragedy brings to mind a sense of helplessness, and a feeling that it would be entirely impossible to so much as grasp at the things you once wanted most.  Even tragedy is not as strong as the continuing whims of a road that winds down through time, ready and ever willing to heal, to encourage, to mend hearts and minds, to entwine lives and further goals, and most of all, to plant love in all directions, waiting for you to stumble onto it.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July!  Happy Independence Day!  Happy Will Smith movie marathon day!

As with most July 4th holidays, images of barbecues, fireworks, and fireflies are running through my mind.  I remember one year, lighting snakes outside my childhood home for hours, and being told not to run with sparklers.  I ran with them anyway, because the patterns they burned into your retinas after being waved haphazardly through the air were worth the risk of second-degree burns.  Maybe you disagree, but as a ten-year-old, I liked to live on the edge.  When no one was looking, I sometimes ran with scissors, too.

Another year, visiting family out of state, my uncle decided to entertain us with his own fireworks display, using what I can only estimate to have been military-grade explosives, and ended up blowing a decently sized crater in the end of his driveway.

The last few years, I'd been going to see the fireworks display in State College, Pa, which is extraordinarily beautiful, and timed to a score of tunes that set your heart pounding (if you could tell the difference between your heartbeats and the reverberations from the fireworks exploding through your body, that is).  This year will be my first Fourth of July where independence has a particularly strong meaning in my life, and I intend to spend it with someone who embodies my hope for the future, in an adventure to upstate New York.  In a break of tradition, I'll forge a new association with Independence Day in my mind, and create a new standard of living for myself without the threat of terminal illness hovering over my head.

Because, you see, I have this keychain.  On the front of the keychain, my initials are engraved in large capital letters.  And on the reverse side is a date with a ribbon.  The date is 12-1-12.  My parents bought me this keychain and handed it to me the day after I was finished with treatment for stage 3 melanoma.  That day was December 1st, 2012.  Now, for some reason, the coming of Independence Day this year has triggered that memory in my mind.  It's made me recall how I felt when I was finally done with immunotherapy -- the relief, the uncertainty, the conquest, the hope, and all the whirlwind emotional static that clung to my neural pathways and wouldn't let go.

Today, Independence Day means something more for me.  It's an independence from cancer.  It's a day I can celebrate and remember the time I was handed a keychain, and told that I had earned my independence, if not only for a short time.  Because I was lucky enough to have gotten through my ordeal, that doesn't mean that it'll never threaten my life again.  It means that I now have the opportunity to appreciate my independence from tragedy with every new breath, and every sunrise.

Feeling independent from political tyranny suffered two hundred years ago is one thing, and celebrating the birth of a nation is a worthy cause that should never be taken for granted.  But there are other things that are important to feel independent from: things in life that are just as tyrannical as an oppressive colonial-era government, if not more.  I've told you what I feel independence from, and that gives me hope for the future.  Not to live a life for a certain amount of years, but to live with a certain amount of fulfillment.  To be able to fully enjoy my time independent from the terrible disease that haunted me in the past.  And I know that it may come back some day, but for now, I'm going to enjoy my independence.  I hope that even if it were to return, I'll still maintain some small wisp of this same attitude, whenever I flip over the keychain that my parents handed to me, and gaze at the date when I truly gained my independence, and for the first time really understood what it meant to do so.

What's your Independence Day, if you have one?  And, if not, what is it you wish you were independent from, and how can you make this happen?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Natural" Healing, "Alternative" Medicine

I'm getting increasingly tired of the number of "Natural" and "Alternative" health accounts I've accidentally followed on Twitter.  You guys are crafty.  You do your best not to look crazy right away, and present yourselves in a medically authoritative way.  Seems like that's working for you.  But then I start to see the kind of articles you post, and I realize I've been taken in.  You post things on Twitter with titles like: "(Rare bit of foliage) will make every aspect of your life better!" or, "Now, rub potato skin on your genitals to make women want you!" and, "XYZ will treat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, MS, lupus, the common cold, stretch marks, a stubbed toe, pinkeye, indigestion, testicular chafing, and having no one in your life who loves you."

Or, my favorite: "A new study has shown that mainstream medicine is a conspiracy, and the only substance of any actual medicinal value is a smoothie made with sloth toenails."  Just what studies you pull from, the world will never know, because you never, ever, cite them.  And when you do, they're not in English, and are written by people who are not medical professionals.  In the last article I read, the author actually thought it appropriate to cite "anecdotal evidence" as source material.  As in, "So-and-so said he felt much better after taking the pills made of dragon spines, and everyone in his life noticed how happy he appeared at the pancake breakfasts.  He is still very much dead, but the dragon spine pills totally work.  Please buy them."

I keep following you until I get just disgusted enough to leave your nonsense behind.  Because I truly believe that it's better to be aware that you're out there, spreading fear-mongering sensationalism to line your pockets, so the intelligent human beings among us can be prepared to deal with you.  Even so, after about halfway through most articles, I click "unfollow" on whoever posted that particular batch of pseudoscience.

Articles about alternative medicine are usually written by people who haven't responded well to their own diagnosis, or people who have absolutely no idea about the true horrors of facing a health crisis.  The former usually have bios like: "Karen Ladypants was diagnosed with an incurable terminal illness, but cured herself by eating a steady diet of whale placenta."  No, Karen, you didn't -- and fuck you for misleading people.  The latter bios often contain more acceptable information, and belong to people who have become invested in the epidemic of the American food industry, and go something like this: "Lulu Treebeard discovered in 2009, that everything you come into contact with in daily life is made from synthetic chemicals supplied by greedy corporations that pushed the Lorax into retirement.  She has adopted some fringe beliefs and now dedicates her time to promoting a healthy lifestyle, along with her husband and one very socially awkward son."

Let's be fair; there's nothing wrong with promoting a healthy lifestyle.  There isn't even a whole lot wrong with denial.  Promoting a healthy lifestyle is exactly what this author aims to do.  But I like facts, and because of that, you won't find me buying into anything for which there's no evidence of any benefit.  There is something wrong with pushing things that have no medicinal value, and that are occasionally dangerous or that cause the opposite of the desired effect.  I also consider it unethical to promote a product that has no known benefit, even if it isn't physically dangerous.  Because, in doing so, you are manipulating consumer fears to make yourself richer.  All of the darkest corners of economics can be found in the neighborhood of healthcare.

In terms of denial, or not fully adjusting to the new normative state you've entered through a tragic diagnosis or other event, I should first say that I completely understand.  I lived an entire year of my life curled up on the couch under a snuggie.  You want terrible things to go away, and you deal with that desire for a clean slate however you see fit.  But dealing with your own fears is one thing, playing on others' fears to validate your own denial is quite another.

This is what bothers me the most about the community to which I now belong.  In the midst of tragedy, you have a tremendous opportunity to help people.  In order to do so, you must have the courage to face the realities of your circumstances.  Cancer is incurable.  Science can't do it, the turnips in your backyard won't do it, either.  Man up, use the wisdom you've gathered from staring down the gates to the other side and make the world better.  Instead, these alternative health folks choose to increase the amount of suffering in the world by pushing placebos, or dangerous, ineffective treatments.

If it isn't proven to be effective, peer-reviewed, overseen by governing bodies, results recreated and independently verified, if there aren't statistics and survival rates and facts and figures, then you are doing something to your body and no one can predict the results.  Seek out alternative treatments only in conjunction with a conventional treatment regimen, and only if those particular alternatives have proven clinical benefits.