The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 955: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (Archive)

Spontaneous cancer remissions do happen, but doctors rarely study these rare cases. What do these unique cancer survivors have in common?
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Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (Archive)

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What can we learn from people who have experienced spontaneous remissions of serious cancers? Doctors recognize that such remissions sometimes occur, but they rarely study them. The problem is that remissions are uncommon and unpredictable, and consequently difficult to study.

The Research

Psychotherapist Kelly Turner interviewed more than a thousand people who had undergone a documented radical remission of cancer. To her surprise, most of these people identified similar factors when asked to explain their unanticipated survival. What are the nine key factors that seem to make a big difference?

This Week’s Guest:

Kelly Turner, PhD, is a researcher and counselor in the field of integrative oncology. Her research focus is the radical remission of cancer. She is the founder of the Radical Remission Project, collecting stories of radical remission for further analysis.

Her book is Radical Remission, The Nine Key Factors that Can Make a Difference. It is a New York Times best seller.

Her websites are: and

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The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Great show!
Thanks to all comments!
I keep learning. I try to know more, listen more and shape more my body.
No blame, no shame, just all the best.

How about this from the president of the U.S. “In (so many years) we’ll have a cure for cancer.” The government sent men to the moon (wild notion but they did it) so why don’t they find a cure for cancer.

I’ve been telling this story for 15 years. I had duodenal adenocarcinoma 15 years ago with poor prognosis. Had surgery and 6 mos chemo but too near pancreas for radiation. For 5 years my oncologist leaned against the wall with arms folded and said well I don’t know what you’re doing but keep doing it. I wanted to slap him upside the head and say “well write it down and share it with other patients.” He just smiled. So I wrote it down (very cathartic) and I won a prize and publication in a regional anthology. I did everything on the list of 9… and more. I tell everyone I can, even strangers in the grocery store I hear say their loved one has been diagnosed. “Here I am after 15 years!! And this is why…”
Paula in Raleigh, N C

I’m 48 diagnose with stage 4 lung cancer. Please help me to stay alive. They say there nothing they could do. I feel Great. I don’t look sick. What are some of the things you eaten to kick cancer butt.

Hi Paula,
I wish I could, but doubt I am going to meet you at Whole Foods where I often buy my cottage cheese for the Budwig protocol I have been doing for about 6 months. I am self treating for breast cancer because of a disturbing thermogram result. Can you share your protocol in general? Where did you get the information you used to get well? Thank you.

We do ourselves a disservice when we talk about “getting” cancer. Years ago, I came across an article stating that when coroners perform autopsies, they routinely find cancers in the body, in various stages of containment. It appears to be the case that we all HAVE cancers in our bodies, but whether they grow is a function of various factors. This would explain why people are more likely to develop malignant growths in the wake of traumatic events, e.g., divorce, death of spouse, etc. The realization was important for me in my evolving paradigm shift about disease.

The approaches the author advocates are probably good ones.

I would however note some things as food for thought:

1. Many if not most of the stories on her site included conventional therapies alongside these approaches. It is all too human to credit something WE did as more important than what the oncologist did.
2. It is a FACT that conventional cancer therapies are curing many stage 4 cancers these days.
3. There are some types of cancer that can have long remission periods as part of their natural behavior.
4. These are not new ideas. They surface periodically like the 7-year itch. Most recently it became a popular belief that a “positive” attitude made a difference in outcomes. The problem with this is that the corollary is that those who die have failed in some way.
5. It is very common for people who hear of someone diagnosed with cancer to try to figure out what caused them to have it (something they did that I don’t do). It’s part of people dealing with their own fears trying to reassure themselves it won’t happen to them.
6. It would be unfortunate indeed if this caused people to forgo a potentially curative or life-extending conventional treatment.

Joe & Terry – I absolutely love your show! Thanks for being the voice to those of us that look for traditional life healing. I am an Hem/Onc nurse and I am truly honored by the information that I have heard over the past couple of weekends. It makes my work even more rewarding when I can provide a calmness to an already stress-filled situation. Thank you for your communication method and your guests that share such inspiring information.
Here is my question: how does one find a traditional Chinese herbalist or healer in the United States that is credible?
Blessings to you both!

RO, THINK!!! How can Dr Turner interview those who succumbed to the disease??? Why, with your “thinking” do you even bother reading the PPh news? This is not a question of blaming, cancer cannot live in oxygen but in hidden areas with lack of oxygen. Junk food fills most people’s shopping cart, have a look how many veggies and “clean” foods they
consume. Mostly packaged and frozen, advertized as being “just as good or better” than fresh. I am 74.5 and l take only
an occasional aspirin for a bad headache caused by MSG and junk in foods at restaurants and airline meals. NO MEDS at all, docs think I am fibbing since many seniors my age are already on walkers and take 10-20 med pills a day.
I take vitamins and herbs and only small amounts of junk food. Hamburger helper and frozen veggies with “butter sauce”? Never would even try it without rinsing off the junk!!
So— RO, stick to your life style and see what happens, BUT LEAVE THE REST OF US AND PEOPLES PH. ALONE!!
Thanks, we would be so much happier!

Great show. Dr. Turner saw merit in Dr. Kobayashi’s views that cancer was caused by mitochondrial failure and that cancer cells should be denied the sugar (glucose) they require as fuel. Dr. Thomas Seyfried has done a tremendous amount of research on those issues and the ketogenic diet which provides fat based fuel for the body to use in place of glucose. I found his article “Cancer as a metabolic disease” extremely enlightening. It can be found at: . Here is the abstract:
“Emerging evidence indicates that impaired cellular energy metabolism is the defining characteristic of nearly all cancers regardless of cellular or tissue origin. In contrast to normal cells, which derive most of their usable energy from oxidative phosphorylation, most cancer cells become heavily dependent on substrate level phosphorylation to meet energy demands. Evidence is reviewed supporting a general hypothesis that genomic instability and essentially all hallmarks of cancer, including aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect), can be linked to impaired mitochondrial function and energy metabolism. A view of cancer as primarily a metabolic disease will impact approaches to cancer management and prevention.”
For even more info see Dr. Seyfried’s website: .
Sincerely, Russ

This has been one of the best radio shows I’ve heard on this radio station. Whenever a celebrity dies of cancer, the media are always quick to point out that he or she tried alternative therapies. It was good to hear the other side of the story from Dr. Kelly.
Most, if not all, doctors would agree that the human body is an amazing machine, so logically they shouldn’t have difficulty accepting these remissions for what they are. Unfortunately, however, a good number of them feel threatened by them. I’m completely baffled by an earlier comment that this is all about blaming the victim. I didn’t hear that message at all.

Great show. I would have liked to hear more about the diets that were tried.
To paraphrase, in the view of some experts:
For those who are interested in preventing or treating cancer with a ketogenic diet, I highly recommend reading: “Cancer as a metabolic disease” . Here is the abstract: “Emerging evidence indicates that impaired cellular energy metabolism is the defining characteristic of nearly all cancers regardless of cellular or tissue origin. In contrast to normal cells, which derive most of their usable energy from oxidative phosphorylation, most cancer cells become heavily dependent on substrate level phosphorylation to meet energy demands. Evidence is reviewed supporting a general hypothesis that genomic instability and essentially all hallmarks of cancer, including aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect), can be linked to impaired mito-chondrial function and energy metabolism. A view of cancer as primarily a metabolic disease will impact approaches to cancer management and prevention.”
For more info, one of the author’s website is: .
Sincerely, Russ

You raise some intelligent, valid points. Thanks

RO statement makes sense on the surface, but as a cancer survivor, it’s fair and objective to ask, “Why did I get this cancer?” Attempting to understand root causes is critical both to research and understanding. Why wouldn’t a person ask this question? Perhaps RO could take a “No blame, no shame” approach.

“This is a multi billion dollar per year industry and a ‘cure’ would put a lot of people out of work”
Imagine a multi billion dollar hit to the American economy and you start to realize why the medical establishment has no interest in a cure for cancer.

Excuse me, but I strongly disagree.

I am so delighted to find that this issue is finally being studied. We must begin to recognize that the mind is a very powerful healing instrument. I think many people fear that they might not achieve the same “miraculous” outcomes that others have. Therefore, they do not even try it. But we need to realize that the same thing can happen with the medicines/operations, etc. that we are willing to expose ourselves to.
It is the physician’s best guess that his program will work. So why not try the steps that Dr. Turner shared? This does not mean that we should avoid grieving for our health concerns and the changes they can make in our daily lives. Nor should we ignore the many medical requirements that may need to be addressed. But in this larger context, adding spiritual/attitudinal/visualization approaches cannot hurt. These certainly do not have negative side effects that medical approaches usually do.
Taking the power back within ourselves instead of looking for it on the outside, may be the real key. Believing in our own ability to focus our healing energies within ourselves may be a new area for psychological focus. Developing techniques that encourage this concentration may hold much promise. Isn’t that what therapy should be about anyway? Strengthening the person’s internal ability to cope with the challenges they are facing? Loyce W. Longino, PhD

I enjoyed listening to this morning’s show. The research sounds like it needs some help and I know if I were seeking another degree this avenue of health studies is what I would consider. However, someone with a background similar to Ms. Turner’s background would be the ideal support and research assisstant; but I realize there is so much work and studies to do before you get there.
My question doesn’t have to do with cancer, but has to do with what you mentioned about the ‘body’s terrain’. I thought that was an amazing approach attitude toward’s the way we should look at health/disease factors in each of us. We don’t live in a vacuum and are fed by more than just food, air and water. So, with that in mind, could we look at other diseases/syndromes/maladies with the same approach as I heard this morning?
For instance, my daughter is dealing with Dysautonomia (autonomic nervous system dysfunction). The onset was just after she reached her 15th birthday and she is now 20, undergoing the ‘standard’ treatment and with that said, one of the suggested and practiced treatments is to use the steroid, Fluodrocortisone. However, as many people know, this causes extreme weight gain. She is already dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome as well so we’re really fighting against two conditions, not just one. Would there be a way to approach something like these two maladies the same way as Ms. Turner was talking about this morning?

I wanted you to challenge her on her statement telling cancer patients to ask themselves “why did I get this disease?” That is totally blaming the victim. Also, interviewing an incredibly small subset of outliers does not seem like a good use of resources and I would not dignify it with the term “research.” These are anecdotes.
They could be useful but I would want Dr. Turner to research all those who tried her 9 step approach and succumbed to the disease in line with the expectancy. Is this a larger group? My hypothesis would be yes. She does a disservice to patients blaming them for getting the disease and blaming them for not getting better.

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