Evan is a walking miracle. He was given little more than 12 months to survive three years ago. Because he has one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer, one that does not respond well to treatment, and because his was inoperable, the odds were against him. However, here he is today, all smiles and enjoying Thanksgiving 2022 with his loved ones.
Evan's story began when he and I met some 35 years ago. Fresh out of physical therapy school, Evan marched into my new medical office and announced he had opened up his shop nearby in the small Northern California town of Redding. I was a newly minted thirty-year-old doctor and Evan was the same age. As a physician, I treated patients with strokes, spine injuries, and intractable pain. Kevin worked on their physical therapy, helping them regain balance, motion, and strength. But he did more than that. Over the years, his patients would return and tell me how kind and understanding Evan was, about how he took a particular interest in them as a human being and showed that he cared.
I have a favorite patient who suffers from terrible spine pain; she is retired and lives alone. She sees me for pain medication and injections and saw Evan for weekly physical therapy sessions - the bright spot in her life. Although she rarely socialized or did anything other than see her doctors, her face lit up every time she spoke about Evan. "I just love Evan. He takes extra time with me and works through my pain. By the time I leave, my pain is always manageable."
Evan was my go-to guy whenever I encountered a challenging patient needing physical therapy, not only because of his clinical skills but because he cared and let the patients know. Healing comes not just because of the type of treatment but also because of the kind of person administering it.
Evan raised a family and became a pillar of the community. He coached his children's sports teams, and everyone liked him. So when his sister developed melanoma, worsening despite the best medical care, it was a town tragedy. The whole town mourned with Evan.
In 2019, I was not prepared for the news I received from my banker, who explained that Evan had been diagnosed with brain cancer. "It is terrible. He has a biopsy scheduled next week at Stanford. He is closing his practice."
"Evan is the healthiest guy I know,” I protested. “Not an ounce of fat. And he is always active. There must be some mistake."
But there was no mistake. The biopsy came back positive for Glioblastoma Multiforme, otherwise known as Stage IV Astrocytoma, the deadliest form. I was familiar with this type of cancer. And I knew that virtually no one ever survived it. Tears welled up as I imagined what Evan must be going through. Although I knew him, we did not socialize. You might say I admired his work as a colleague.
I felt called to action. There must be something I could do to help a respected colleague, family man, and pillar of the community. Here Evan and I were now both in our sixties, and I was not going to let him go without a fight.
So I researched everything I could find on Glioblastoma in the medical literature - I started with PubMed, the National Library of Medicine. A review by Walid was not optimistic. The median survival is less than one year. Only 1 in 50 or 2% can expect to survive three years. Less than 1 in 140 make it to 10 years.
Other PubMed articles were not much better. A review published by Jovcevska stated, "Due to the short life expectancy, long-term glioblastoma survivors are defined as patients who live longer than two years post-diagnosis." In general the older the age at diagnosis, the less chance for long-term survival.
What caught my attention was Dr. Jovcevska's section on Long-term Glioblastoma Survivors—although extremely rare, surviving a Glioblastoma for more than ten years was possible. So that was where I needed to direct my attention. Drs. Tykocki and Eltayeb reviewed the medical literature on such long-term survivors, but no specifics could help Evan. The standard treatment, which consists of surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation and chemotherapy, was the best that Stanford and modern medicine could offer. And it was not going to be enough.
So I scoured the internet for long-term survivors of Glioblastoma. The name that should come up first is Dr. Ben Williams, but surprisingly most will not see his name in the search engine results. Try it yourself. Google "long-term glioblastoma survivor."
That should be your first clue. But more on that later.
Dr. Ben Williams, Harvard graduate and Professor Emeritus at UC San Diego School of Medicine, has survived his Glioblastoma for over 28 years. He is the undisputed poster child for Glioblastoma, and his name should be plastered everywhere for the benefit and hope of all patients who suffer from this scourge.
Having been diagnosed with a lethal cancer in 1995 while he was a sitting Chair of the Psychology Department at UC San Diego, Dr. Williams did not quietly accept the standard treatment and its associated fate. Instead, he was bright enough to realize that if he submitted to the same treatments of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy that everyone else got, he would achieve the same results they did - and that result was death.
So Ben did it differently. He researched. Ben knew his way around the medical literature. He also had the justified confidence to question his physicians.
He discovered repurposed drugs - those FDA-approved safe and effective off-patent medications we use daily to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, and diabetes. And what he found astonished him. These drugs often possess anti-cancer properties. He found studies by researchers published in respected medical journals on each drug. So his idea was to take as many of these safe drugs in combination with the standard treatment to improve his chances of survival. His doctors argued with him, and many refused to prescribe these common medications. However, let's say that Ben found ways to get these medicines anyway. In my book, Surviving Cancer, COVID-19 and Disease: The Repurposed Drug Revolution, I describe him, his remarkable journey, and how he obtained his medicines.
"He (Ben) read about clinical trials and soon discovered that Accutane, commonly used to treat acne, could fight it. He found tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer, was also effective. He learned that the tumor could shield itself from chemotherapy by using calcium channels. So he decided to add a calcium channel blocker drug, verapamil, to thwart this. Verapamil is usually used to lower blood pressure. He asked his cancer doctor if he could add these and about a dozen other repurposed drugs to his treatment plan - "He just out and out refused to allow the tamoxifen, he was unwilling to bend, and we had a major altercation over the phone," Ben recalls. The two parted ways, and not so politely."
Ben knew that cancers behave much like viruses; they evolve and learn to become resistant to whatever treatment you are using. So it made sense that blocking the tumor's ability to develop by blocking multiple pathways at the same time might be the key strategy for success. So many cancers today are treated with the latest, greatest, and most expensive hyped drug. This works temporarily - until the tumor adapts and finds an escape route to go underground, regroup, and then return in a more deadly form and utterly resistant to the wonder drug. This method is how most terminal cancers return and conquer the patient.
With Ben's approach, similar to the multi-drug cocktail approach used to treat AIDS successfully, cancer's escape routes are blocked in advance by the multiple repurposed drug cocktail. Although cancer may mutate and form resistance to one drug, the chance it will be able to resist all the drugs is low, and this is the genius in Ben Williams' Repurposed Drug approach. And Dr. Ben Williams remains living proof of the success of this model.
I found other similar survivor stories using repurposed drugs. Some had different terminal cancers. But the principles were similar. Those who employed repurposed drugs in addition to standard of care seemed to do much better, with many achieving ten or twenty-plus year survival in cancers deemed hopeless.
The other remarkable story is about Dr. Stephen Bigelsen, who contracted Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer and used repurposed drug to achieve five years of long-term survival. Not only is Dr. Bigelsen alive and well, but he teaches at Rutgers University Medical School in the Department of Allergy and Immunology. Please view his video interview, taken by his sister, where you can see that his story is true. In addition, I invite you to review his tumor markers, including his C19-9 levels, which dropped like a stone when he began the repurposed drugs.
Everyone I knew with this horrid disease - Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer - has died, including Alex Trebek, Patrick Swasey, Michael Landon, and my father. I was the physician in the family when my dad contracted the condition in 2011. I would have informed him if I had known about repurposed drugs then. If you believe that any of these celebrities had the advantage of knowing about repurposed drugs that could improve their long-term survival, think again. Almost no one ever hears about this option. And it is skillfully hidden from internet search engines. And those who do find out are often shot down by their Oncologists and forbidden to use them.
However, if you are educated and sure of yourself, like Ben Williams, you may persist and gain access to these life-saving medications. One key is to seek these repurposed drugs from your family doctor, not your Oncologist. Your family physician knows you better than the specialist and is more likely to be open-minded about helping you with repurposed drugs. The other key, and my favorite, is to get a referral to the Care Oncology Clinic. Their telephone number in the US and Canada is 800 392 1353. In the UK, one may call +44 20 3855 5939. Their Oncologists are willing to prescribe repurposed drugs and work in concert with your doctors. They even provide telemedicine services, so you don’t have to travel. And they have repurposed drug protocols for the most common cancers.
So now, let me ask you to do one more thing. Please search "long-term survivors of Stage IV pancreatic cancer." Of course, you would expect someone like a prominent board-certified physician teaching at a major US Medical School like Rutgers who has beaten Pancreatic Cancer to be displayed as a poster boy for overcoming the disease. But not once did Dr. Stephen Bigelsen come up in my search results.
You must ask yourself the question, why exactly is it that you can know all about the standard treatments of pancreatic cancer chemotherapy, the gemcitabine, the 5-fluorouracil [so toxic it is nicknamed '5 Feet Under'], and the paclitaxel - the combination cost around $12,000 per month in past years. There is no shortage of search engine hits on these expensive treatments. In a 2019 PubMed article, Angela Tramontano and colleagues wrote that the mean terminal phase monthly cost of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients was $11,641.
My friend Evan is alive today, in my opinion, largely because he added the four-drug Care Oncology Clinic's repurposed drug protocol. This protocol involved adding the four drugs of Atorvastatin, Metformin, Doxycycline, and Mebendazole to his treatment regimen. The first two medications run around 10 dollars per month. Doxycycline costs around 50 dollars, and Mebendazole sells for about 100 dollars at Walmart.
Now, as I did, you may begin to understand that it is more about profit than survival. Tune into the Nightly News with Lester Holt to find another tell. There is a station break followed by a narrator's voice that says, "Nightly Films sponsored by Pfizer."
Terminal cancer can be treated effectively using repurposed drugs, as stated by the Care Oncology Clinic and using their four-drug COC protocol. Evan received the gift of another year of life this Thanksgiving, and his family enjoyed another season with him thanks to the Care Oncology Clinic's four-drug COC repurposed drug protocol.
Dr. Ben Williams and Dr. Stephen Bigelsen beat their Glioblastoma and Pancreatic Cancer and used repurposed drugs.
Every patient diagnosed with terminal cancer today must be told about adding cheap, safe, and available repurposed drugs to their cancer treatment regimen. In addition, every patient with terminal cancer should be given the option of the four-drug COC repurposed drug protocol. To do anything else would be unethical. For more information, I invite you to read the book I dedicated to Evan that may also save your life or the life of someone you love.