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Criticism: Surgery Alone Cured Hollie

A common criticism that we've gotten in response to our book is that Hollie's lumpectomy and lymph node removal were alone enough to cure her cancer. This view is a good example of why we say we need to improve the logic in our thinking about cancer. This criticism takes exactly half of the big picture into account, and when you're dealing with cancer, it's essential for you to be able to see the entire truth.

First and foremost, this argument is revisionist history. Hollie's doctors weren't saying anything close to "Eh, you'll probably be fine after just the surgery." Their advice was exactly the opposite, and we quote it directly in the book: "Hollie, you need chemotherapy." They strenuously recommended chemotherapy, radiation and five years of hormone therapy. One surgeon recommended extensive additional surgery following the lumpectomy. We rejected the additional surgery, along with all of the other conventional therapies being recommended to us. These are the harmful treatments being doled out indiscriminately, and especially to women with breast cancer, and with little to no scientific support for their effectiveness. In our view, in the future it will be common for women to reject these conventional treatments. But it is not common to do so today, and it certainly wasn't in 2002. 

Next, it's worth noting that this criticism is really beside the main point of our book, which is that the biggest cause for concern in conventional cancer treatment is what's recommended to patients after surgery. 

Also, saying it was "no big deal" that Hollie turned down these treatments in favor of safer, smarter alternatives fails to recognize how strongly these treatments are pushed, and how strongly one's future is tied to doing them, according to conventional thinking. If you've spoken to anyone who has gone through chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy, then you know just how grueling these treatments are, not to mention the tremendous decrease in quality of life during (and after) the treatments. As Dr. Susan Love says when asked about the quality of life for breast cancer survivors, "If anything, it's getting worse because we're over-treating them." 

Fast forward eight years to the present—we were right, and they were wrong. Hollie is the picture of health, and she didn't have to get sicker first (via conventional treatments) in order to get healthy. The most advanced testing available shows that she remains 100% cancer-free, not to mention healthier in a wide variety of other ways (no more migraines, gastrointestinal problems, painful cysts, low energy, thyroid troubles, etc.). 

Another problem with this argument is that it obscures the fact that cancer statistics are not individualized. Take the 70% cure stat presented by those who offer this criticism. Sure, surgery would "cure" about 70% of women with breast cancer. But, that didn't mean it would cure Hollie. Hollie may have had a zero percent chance of being cured by surgery, especially given her numerous negative prognostic indicators. Conventional wisdom said that this number could be improved to perhaps 80% via chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. That made no sense to us at all, especially given all of the collateral damage caused by conventional treatments in order to achieve that so-called reduced risk. In our view, using the very best botanical and nutritional science available was a much safer, smarter approach. Via the herbal medicine protocol she followed, along with changing her diet dramatically, Hollie has made her body bio-chemically inhospitable to cancer. That's a true cancer cure.

This gets at another important point. While surgery is by far the most effective (and least harmful) conventional treatment, it still does nothing to address the underlying reasons why cancer developed in the first place. We believe that surgery (and sometimes chemotherapy) can definitely help to achieve a cancer cure. But they must be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses and fixes the imbalances of each unique patient. Because of the uniqueness of each cancer and each person's body, there is no magic bullet cure (drug, surgery, etc.). That frustrates many people, but it's the reality of cancer.  

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we'd like to see a more judicious use of the word "cure." Conventional treatments, including surgery, don't cure cancer, in the strict sense. They remove it, or burn it to death, or poison it, and in the process they cause a tremendous amount of damage to the body in wide variety of ways. Does that approach "work" in some cases? Sure, and we will never once fail to celebrate someone living after cancer, regardless of what treatments were used. But here are some hard questions that we need to start asking ourselves. Is there a better way? Are there safer, smarter ways to deal with cancer? Are there ways to heal your body from cancer even without surgery?

The answer to all of these questions is "Yes!" Hollie rejected chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy, and lived well to tell about it. And you can, too. 

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Reader Comments (10)

Well said Hollie and Patrick. I was frustrated reading some of the comments to the HuffPo article that mentioned that surgery alone could have cured Hollie's cancer, while ignoring the unbelievable pressure put on patients to get chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments immediately. Saying "no" to doctors who are presenting only one option to you is no easy thing, especially when our culture seems to have a general expectation that chemo or radiation and more should be expected when you get cancer.

I'm thankful for your book. It has shown me that there are more options out there than doctors may present, more options than family and friends may be aware of, and that you have more time to thoughtfully consider the options than doctors may indicate.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRon

Thanks for the comment, Ron. The support for our book and our story has really been overwhelming. We appreciate the criticism, too, and we're in the process of addressing some of the valid criticisms here on our blog (with this post being the first in that series). The fact is, though, that all the criticism in the world can't turn back the push for smarter, safer cancer treatments. It's a movement whose time has come, and we're so grateful to be a part of it, and to be enjoying the immense health benefits that continue to come from Hollie's natural medicine protocol and dietary changes.Thanks again for your support!

October 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterHollie & Patrick Quinn

Hi Patrick and Hollie,
I met your mom, Hollie last week at a small luncheon . Was captivated by your story. And how wonderful your recovery and life is !
My husband was diagnosed with central nervous system lymphoma: ie malignant brain cancer eight years ago. Conventional treatment, radiation, would have caused the cancer to GROW. Instead, he went with Dr. Ed Neuwelt at Oregon Health Science University. His "out there" treatment was chemotherapy directly to the brain, under anesthesia. My husband again had brain cancer 4 years ago, and had another 24 chemos to the brain. He is well again, and yet had a heart attack and prostate cancer.
He is not open to anything alternative in terms of supplements. On the other hand I have, and have sought out alternative treatments to deal with my health issues.
I applaud you for your courage, and congratulate your success. You are leading the way for positive changes in treating the causes of illness rather than treating the symptoms.

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie Fendel, Portland, OR

Hi Laurie. Sorry for the delay in posting and responding to your comment. We were out of town for the holidays.

Thanks so much for your comments. It's great to hear that your husband found an alternative to the boilerplate treatment for his cancer, even though it was within the bounds of conventional medicine. It's a great example of what we talk about in the book about choosing the right/best tool for the job. Sometimes, as your husband's case might be an example of, this entails using conventional medicines, but in more judicious ways (e.g., chemotherapy directly to the tumor).

If your husband should change his mind about non-conventional treatments, please feel free to contact us again. We're happy to help however we can in the search for smarter, safer cancer treatments.

Thanks again for your post, and we're wishing you and your husband the very best health you can achieve!

December 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterHollie & Patrick Quinn

Hollie, my mother and I are really encouraged by your story. She was diagnosed with ER+ Her2+++ Stage2B IDC last January 2010 and had mastectomy last February 2010. She also refusde chemo, rads and hormone theraphy. And just like your husband, I supported her decision. Now, 1 year and 3 months since her diagnosis, she is stronger than ever..
keep telling your story and do not be discouraged.

Will also appreciate if you can post on this thread and inspire other women who are also considering to say no to conventional treatment

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternanay

Hi Nanay. Thanks so much for your post. And good for your Mother for discovering smarter, safer medicine! We're wishing her the very best health she can achieve, and please feel free to let us know if we can be of help in any way.

We'll be sure to visit that forum, too. Thanks for posting that link.

April 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterHollie & Patrick Quinn

Hi Hollie,
thanks for sharing your perspective in that board. I really appreciate it. I know you are receiving more ridicule and criticism from the same people who are ought to be representing conventional medicine. But if ORAC is one of those people who representing conventional medicine-- I am more convinced more than ever, that my mother's intuition is right. I am so glad I have listend to her and supported her (even if I found myself second-guessing our steps every day- last year). After, experiencing it myself, receiving a lot of ridicule and also being banned from a Discussion Board because of the questions I posted and only because I care enough to warn people about the dangers of mammogram and telling them there is an alternative clinically approved diagnostic tests such as breast elastography/ultrasound, and of course responding to equally provocative statements that my mother would die because of alternative treatment. I only have to tell the horrors of overtreatment-- and there you go I attracted a bunch of angry women, more determined to defend their own choice instead of saying- come on let us all try to find out what is best for WOM-- instead they keey shoving their own treatment options.. thats all I see women trying to prove themselves right, instead of trying to think out of the box.. there is a reason why we are all getting angry, there is a reason why more and more women are doubting conventional medicine.. I keep telling everyone I have not given up on conventional medicine.. but really if ORAC is their representative?? a gossip monger, who feeds on a woman's death story (Kim Tinkham) and your success story to defend himself and also the system he has outgrown already---he cannot even publish his own name.. instead he uses people's stories and picks it apart to prove his point.

really if people like ORAC, is representing the conventional medical community---I think I am losing my trust on them by the minute.

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternanay

Just to provide a balance view-- please note that I am ranting and venting because of a few representatives of conventional medicine who is totally detached from what their patietns are feeling.. there are still exceptions.. glad to know there are conventional doctors who are still worthy to be called Healers, not only of the individual's physical pain but also the patient's families' pain

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternanay's daughter

Hi again, Nanay. Thanks for your comments. And yes, we agree that it's so troubling to see the cult-like aspects of the conventional cancer treatment world. We certainly understand that it's nothing short of terrifying to think that your treatments may be unnecessary, or, worse, that they might make you sicker. But, in our view, ignoring this information is much more dangerous. It holds us all back from more understanding and progress in dealing with this disease.

So we're happy to take arrows on behalf of people like the original poster who asked to hear from those who've rejected conventional chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy, and who've lived well to tell about it. That's the unavoidable truth at the heart of our story--Hollie's doctors told her she needed all of those treatments. But she didn't. There was smarter, safer medicine available for her to choose. And deeply scientific medicine, at that. How many other women (or other people with cancer) might be interested to know that?

There's really a conservatism to integrative medicine that doesn't exist in conventional medicine. Sometimes conventional treatments are important, even life-saving. But certainly not in the ways that they're used indiscriminately at present. For example, the clinic in Oregon that treated Hollie sometimes uses chemotherapy, but only in very specialized, targeted ways (and only after chemotherapy sensitivity testing). For us, it's about complete medicine, and the smartest, safest treatments possible. This approach leaves patients in the best, most empowered position possible, as compared to the conventional-only approach that sends them out into their lives after treatment with a "wait and see" approach to their cancers. That's not medically conservative at all!

Thanks as well for those links. Incidentally, what treatment approach did your mother choose?

April 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterHollie & Patrick Quinn

Hi Hollie/Patrick,
I could not agree more. After mastectomy in Feb 2010, my mother embarked on a 42 day Breuss protocol with daily coffee enema. After which she followed Budwig Protocol for a while and also followed Dr. Kelly's Enzyme Therapy (we just purchased pancreatin from a natural food store) and we are praying a lot (not only because of Dr. Kelly's protocol but because we are Christians- Baptists specifically). She is very active--using her trampoline everyday for exercise, and also daily walks to the nearby hill (with lots of vegetation). We are seeing an integrative doctor (endocrinologist) to balance her hormones with I3C/DIM --we are now waiting for the results of her Liver Detoxification Profile. Honestly, I feel that we are not doing enough ( I am trying to research more on Iscador, Vit C therapy and many more-- just in case there is a recurrence).
My mother has been 15 months out since DX, and has not been complaining about anything --in fact she looks healthier than she was 2 years ago. Conventional diagnostic results will be out this week-- and hoping she will be NED.
I will buy Hollie's book as well. By the way, what conventional targeted therapies did Hollie had?

I am also seriously considering (if my mother agree) Herceptin and other newer targeted therapies

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternanay

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