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My dad has discontinued the Gonzalez regimen, and I wanted to share his experience, pros and cons the best I can. Maybe this can help people decide if it's for them. I am not encouraging the plan or discouraging it--just writing the facts as they happened in my dad's case. Thanks! Here is Dad's experience:
My dad started the Gonzalez protocol at Thanksgiving time. Dad flew to NYC and met with him for two full days and they discussed all the CT scan results and blood work, did a hair analysis, organized his enzymes and diet, etc...
I have had mixed feelings about Dr. Gonzalez's program. I had read the reports on Quackwatch, but also the great article in Prevention and saw the program being backed in trials byt the NCI and NIH.
My dad was 55 at the time of dx in late October. He had really no symptoms to speak of (back pain thought to be caused by his nightly golfing?)and was diagnosis was stage 4b at the tail of the pancreas with mets to liver. Pancreatic tumor was 5.1cm. He was told with no palliative chemo he would be gone by Xmas (three oncologists including two at the Mayo Clinic told him the same thing) and with chemo he may live a few extra months. He was planning to go to Houston to MD Anderson or else to New York to Memorial Sloan Kettering to possibly enroll in a trial. His liver function tests at the time excluded him from most trials, however. So he could do palliative Gemzar or explore his options.
My dad is an educated man. He is a newspaper editor, working all over the USA and spent time in DC at USA TODAY as well in the 80s. He has spent 35 years 'digging up' info. Going into this was not a 'stupid' decision as some here have said or an uninformed one.
He couldn't enroll in the trial, so he became a private patient of Gonzalez's. I know cost wise, it was about $3500 at the visit up front and the enzymes and raw foods and the juicer total to around $500 per month I believe. Annual cost would be around $10K per year, not covered by insurance since it was 'alternative treatment'.
Dad had good initial results. He likes Gonzalez. He is a nice man and he did not make any promises. Dad was able to work up until last Wednesday full time. However, he ended up in the hospital 2X in December, once with a DVT in the leg and later for the clot moving to the abdomen and pulmonary embolism.
The hospitalizations drained my Dad and he wasn't able to do the plan 100%. Let me say that Dad was in tip top shape when he started--was golfing nightly and had energy. He started off athletic and young. He had lots of stamina and a good attitude.
The program is VERY, VERY grueling. Dad had to do twice daily coffee enemas. Because Dad's tumor markers were so high to begin with he had to do two enemas in a row twice a day. They actually made him feel better.
He also consumed about 150 pills per day. When on the plan, you must wake up at 2:30am and 5:30 to take dozens of pills. You will NOT sleep well on this plan. You must time your eating accordingly and not consume chicken, beef, pork, cheese or dairy (except full-fat yogurt and heavy cream at the time of a monthly liver flush). Daily skin brushing is required. You must drink extreme amount of carrot and other veggie juices. Once a month there is a liver flush. You drink olive oil mixed with a squirt of lemon juice. Before that, you have heavy cream mixed with berries. Once you drink the oil, you have to go to bed and lie on your right side and wait for the 'flush'. The patient will most likely either have diahrea or vomit most of the night. The enzymes taken were pig pancreatic enzymes. Large quantities of fluids were to be consumed as well. My dad, though, drank maybe 3-4 glasses of water a day.
The theory is that you will release toxins--years worth.
When you start the program they say that you will feel like you were run over by a truck. You will have chills, sweats, fatigue, and a low grade fever. Basically the flu all the time. This was the case as well with my Dad.
When you do this program, you are allowed work. My dad did. But in working, you CANNOT truly stick to the regimen. It is impossible. My dad ended up skipping pills and not eating all the raw foods he needed to consume. My dad lives for his work. He chose to work over sticking 100% to the plan. Because of this, we will not truly know if the approach really works. He didn't take all the pills, drink the water needed to help absorb the vitamins properly, etc...He skipped a liver flush to write his weekly column.
Dad took a leave from work and has been at his home in FL for exactly one week. He went to focus on the Gonzalez regimen 100%. Unfortunately, he developed severe itching and jaundice all of a sudden. He is in the hospital and they said he had a bile duct blockage. He was to have a stent placed this AM. When they went to place the stent, they discovered there actually wasn't a blockage--Dad had toxic amounts of Vitamin A in his system. He also has way too much Vitamin K in his system which is bad for clots. So he had the bile drained and no stent placed. These vitamins were prescribed by Dr. Gonzalez. Is it his fault for prescribing so many vitamins? Or is is partly my dad's for not following the program and not taking the vitamins with water? We all have our opinions and I will not play the blame game. Life is too darn short for that.
Dad made his decision FINAL yesterday that he is doing NOTHING more with Dr. Gonzalez. Dad decided this AM after talking to a team of oncologists down where he is hospitalized in Naples, FL that he will start Gemzar for palliative purposes next week. He will start there, then in 2 weeks he will be moving back home to NY to be with his family--his mom, my hubby and son and me, his brothers, etc...He needs that. Without this, he will be gone in a matter of weeks he was told today. That is not acceptable to Dad. He has a granddaughter due in March to meet and my son or daughter will be here in June. Dad wants to golf again, watch his gradnkids open Christmas presents. Gemzar is his only shot.
I am not saying Dr. Gonzalez is a quack. I do not believe he is. I think he is a pioneer ON THE VERGE of doing great things and making major progress. It is still too soon though to rely on Dr. Gonzalez as the primary source of treatment. We have learned that.
One thing YOU MUST HAVE if you do this regimen is an oncologist who will work with you if you end up being Gonzalez's patient. If not, you will see him every 3 months is all. You will not have regular bloodwork UNLESS YOU ARRANGE IT WITH ANOTHER DOCTOR. You need to have an oncologist who is supportive of alternative treatments. My dad was lucky. He had a great oncologist who has researched Gonzalez and told Dad he would support him since his prognosis is so grim. Be prepared to see many different oncologists in order to have one with an open mind. Many ONLY view the traditional radiation, chemo, or surgery approach as 'real' medicine (yes, Gonzalez is a real doctor...many alternative 'doctors' haven't even gone to college!).
To do this program one must be very strong and willing to make this their full time 24/7 work for months and months. The patient MUST have a live in caretaker to be accepted as a patient, as this CANNOT be done alone.
Please just educate yourself as to what all the options are, and my advice is--don't put all your eggs in one basket. My dad did at first and now he is no better in terms of his CA 19-9. It is 111,000. Life is too precious and short and one thing I say if you are a caretaker is that this HAS TO BE THE PATIENT'S DECISION. My stepmom is all for alternative medicine. My dad felt like he was letting her down by not doing this. In fact I had to tell her that he no longer wanted to do it and she saw it as giving up. We cannot begin to know what the patient feels, so we need to accept their decisions no matter what they be.
So as for the Gonzalez plan, like I said, it is up to the patient. Would I do it myself? I don't know. I don't think I could handle it. I hope this helps someone if you have ?s about Gonzalez. You can find more info on this at www.prevention.com, discoveryhealth.com, www.quackwatch.com and dr-gonzalez.com. Educate yourselves from multiple sources, good and bad. Good luck to everyone on their journey to fight this demon. Now we're starting another soon--chemo. I'm sure I'll be back with Gemzar questions as Dad's fight continues.
FEB. 28 ADDED INFO ON GONZALEZ--My father died January 29th. I do have some additional comments. #1, referring to the 'vitamin A toxicity' we were told Dad had that caused an overdose and all the jaundice: Dad's blood tests revealed that his Vitamin A levels were NORMAL. That cannot be blamed on Gonzalez. The Florida oncologists made that educated guess before analyzing his blood work.
Also, 4 days before Dad died (after this was written), Dad's CA 19-9 tests were checked again. Just before his death, his tumor markers dropped in 3 weeks from 111,000 to 89,000 (same lab). This was still a HIGH number, but it had really dropped. Is this from Gonzalez? I don't know, but to say yes since Dad wasn't doing chemo and CA 19-9 doesn't magically go down with no treatment.
Chemo--Dad got so sick in the hospital that they could no longer do chemo. He was to start on a Monday, but the day before took a dramatic turn. He never was able to start the Gemzar and his liver tests got so bad in a matter of days, he just couldn't do it. The Ct-scan dad had 4 days prior to death also revealed a small 5mm tumor on his lungs. So it started off in his tail of the pancreas, then went to liver (at time of DX) and in less than 3 mos was in his lungs. The embolism in his lungs was so big, the doctor said Dad would probably die of a stroke before cancer took him.
I am so sorry you are facing this. Dr. Gonzalez, like I said, is a good man on the verge of great discoveries. The patient, though, and ONLY the patient needs to decide if Gonzalez is the right way to go. Good luck to you.
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