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Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine

Weekend mailbag: Orac is a bad, bad man

After yesterday’s lovefest that really did go to my head. Really, when I wrote it I wasn’t trolling for praise, although in retrospect it now does kind of look that way to me. I was simply expressing amazement that anyone would listen to a pseudonymous (although not really anonymous anymore) blogger. Fortunately for my ego, which threatens to expand until it pops like an overinflated balloon, there are are readers who aren’t all that impressed by me. Heck, there’s even a whole blog, every blogger of which really, really detests me. (I leave it as an exercise to the reader to guess to which blog I’m referring.) Elsewhere, one reader in particular, whom I’ll just call T, really, really doesn’t like me:

Speaking of your articles on the Cherrix case, you my friend are a bad bad man….I hope you realize that by lying about the fact that natural medicine actually helps people, you are causing their premature death or unnecessary suffering. In case you can’t imagine it, people actually die prematurely because they don’t try whatever it takes to survive. They might read your article, then when they get sick, might tend to ignore something that will certainly help them. The medical world should be looking into EVERY method to do what is best for the patient, not what is best for the doctor’s wallet. How can a person look themselves in the mirror when they lie to people on such a large scale, and about something so serious as llife or death. Dr Smith, Cherrix doctor, is a man of integrity. Unlike yourself. Sure he is making money, but he is also making sure that EVERY possible method is being carefully thought of in order to help the patient as much as possible. Who are you to ignore the results of the doctor’s work? He is getting results, as was Hoxsey, and many other men with integrity who have been labeled “quack”….I have seen behavior like this before, in grade school. Remember when in 3rd grade if someone didn’t like you, they would make up stories about you and make up very hurtful rumours to discredit you? Well, someday including me, we will all be judged about the things we did to others that wasn’t right (maybe not on this planet)….For example, people who misled others into believing lies, and causing their premature death. Sort of like you do in your article. Better be careful also, because alot of people are painfully aware that you are obviously taking bribes from someone in the medical industry. Why else would you publish lies about something that may actually help someone live longer? HORRIBLE

My response, which is uncharacteristically brief, is below:

I have to wonder if T has actually read my posts on Abraham Cherrix. On the one hand, I was very conflicted about whether the state should have the power to force Cherrix to undergo science-based medical therapy instead of quackery (and, yes, T, the Hoxsey therapy is quackery, period), given Cherrix’s age and relative proximity to the being legally recognized as an adult. (He was 15 when diagnosed and turned 16 not long after he opted for woo.) I also explained in very great detail why the Hoxsey therapy is quackery two years ago.

Also, I never called Dr. Arnold Smith a “quack.” Not once. I called him wrong and characterized his immunotherapy as “dubious” and not validated by science, both characterizations being true. However, he does use radiation therapy, which is an accepted science-based therapy of cancer. He just uses it in what is not the most effective way, preferring “low dose” when high dose is indicated and not coupling it with chemotherapy when indicated. In fact, in retrospect, I’m rather glad that Cherrix found Dr. Smith. Given that he was apparently bound and determined to use “alternative” non-science-based methods to treat his recurrent lymphoma, I’d much rather he be treated by Dr. Smith than using the Hoxsey therapy in some quack clinic in Tijuana. After all, at least radiation therapy does have a measurable effect on tumors. Remember, Abraham had big tumorous lymph nodes growing in his neck which, if allowed to grow unchecked, would have obstructed his trachea (and would have slowly strangled him) or and his esophagus (which would have prevented him from eating, necessitating a gastrostomy tube placed into his stomach to feed him). Dr. Smith’s radiation shrank those tumors. In any case, both The Cheerful Oncologist and I explained why Dr. Smith’s treatment is highly unlikely to result in a cure, and if it does it would have been the radiation, not the “immunotherapy” woo that Dr. Smith adds to the radiation that did it. There’s a small chance that it might, but only very small. Abraham is in remission now, at least as far as can be told, but I do not hold much hope that his cancer will not return. For his sake I hope it won’t, even though I know he’s going to represent himself as a poster boy for the alleged efficacy of “alternative” cancer treatments. He’s not.

As for the allegation that I’m a bad, bad man, well, I leave that to my friends, families, patients, and readers to judge. In actuality, I’m just a man. Just like every other man or woman, I’ve done good things and bad things in my life. As the middle third of my life flies by and I find myself fast approaching its last third, I can only hope that by the end the good I will have done will outweigh the bad by a hefty margin. That’s all anyone can hope for, really.

ADDENDUM: It’s funny that T should mention Abraham Cherrix last night. There’s actually some news about him that I just saw this morning. More on that later, probably on Monday.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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