Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:08 EDT

Thyroid Cancer – Alternatives to a Lifetime of Daily Drug Therapy

November 10, 2011

SARASOTA, Fla., Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Amy Murray, a 35-year old mother of two, had a sore throat for weeks. When she begun to have trouble swallowing, she thought she might have strep throat, and went to see her doctor. He found a lump in her neck, and after several medical tests, Murray was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. According to TMD Limited, a medical research company, Murray’s research and ultimate decision to seek treatment outside of the US is typical of more than half a million US citizens receiving medical treatment outside the US annually.

The American Cancer Institute projects there will be 48,000 new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed this year, and 1750 deaths. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located at the lower front of the neck. Papillary is the most common thyroid cancer and strikes mostly women of child bearing age. Medullary thyroid cancer develops in the C cells, which make hormones that help maintain healthy calcium levels in the blood. The thyroid also produces hormones that regulate body temperature, weight, blood pressure and heart rate. Medullary cancer is usually hereditary. Follicular thyroid cancer develops in the follicular areas and is fast growing and likely to spread. A rare and deadly form of thyroid cancer is called Anaplastic.

Thyroid cancer symptoms include a lump in the front of the neck, recurring or constant pain in the throat or neck, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, trouble breathing or swallowing and hoarseness or voice changes. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by benign conditions like goiter or infection.

Risk factors are age (over 45 for most thyroid cancers, over 60 for Anaplastic), a family history of medullary cancer or goiters, being female and having undergone radiation to the neck area.

Murray had lab tests, a surgical biopsy, and an ultrasound with aspiration of cells from the lump in her neck. Her oncologist recommended a total thyroidectomy, or complete removal of the thyroid through an incision in the neck, followed by radiation. (Chemotherapy is used when the cancer has spread.)

When Murray researched her treatment options, she found references to ‘accidental’ removal of the parathyroid glands during surgery, damage to the voice box and metastases to the lungs and bone. While the surgery itself seemed relatively safe, she did not like the idea of having to take synthetic hormones for the rest of her life. She knew once her thyroid was gone, she was committed to a lifetime of drug therapy.

Short term side effects of thyroid medications are severe allergic reactions, vomiting or nausea, chest pain and irregular heartbeat. Most frightening were the long term affects – bone thinning or osteoporosis and an increased risk of cancer, arthritis, changes in appetite, fever, depletion of tissue iodine levels, heat intolerance, joint pain, leg cramps, mood changes, seizures, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, tremors, insomnia, wheezing, heart failure, angina, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, diarrhea, elevation in liver enzymes and hair loss.

Murray rarely took aspirin, and she did not feel comfortable with the idea of daily drug therapy. She began to research alternative treatments and searched for a more natural approach.

She also researched clinics in Mexico. Most clinics there used low dose chemotherapy along with holistic medicines, but Murray knew she did not want any form of chemo. Then she read about a small private clinic that used treatments that were mainstream in many countries (except the US), and they did not do any form of chemo. They offered SonoPhoto Dynamic Therapy, local and whole body hyperthermia, a variety of natural IVs, ozone therapy, nutrition, vaccines and detoxification programs, as well as addressing the emotional and spiritual aspects of cancer. She called the Hope4Cancer Institute, and arranged a phone consult with medical director Dr. Antonio Jimenez. After reviewing Murray’s records, Jimenez created a treatment program specifically for her.

“I liked the fact that these treatments were all natural and had no side effects,” Murray said. Medicine in Mexico is so different than in the states. Where can you get a free doctor consult here? Dr. Jimenez spoke to both my husband and me, and he took his time and made sure all of our questions were answered. He respected the fact that this was a huge decision for us. And I knew that if this program did not work for me, I had the option of doing conventional treatment. Once I had my thyroid removed, there was no going back, I would be stuck with drug therapy for the rest of my life.”

“The clinic sent a driver to pick up us at the San Diego airport, and I was able to bring my husband with me for free. The emotional support was great, the doctors explained the treatments and answered our questions, and made us feel like we were an important part of the decision making process. We attended nutrition classes and learned about the reasons eating healthy was so beneficial. We bonded with other patients, shared our experiences and make friends we are still in contact with.”

Murray continued, “So far, my labs are still coming back normal. I had to continue treatments at home for several more months after leaving the clinic, but the doctors called me every week and ordered periodic tests to monitor my progress. It was a lot more work that popping a pill every day, but I think it was definitely worth it.”

Author Marla Manhart is a health writer and patient advocate. She can be reached at: marlamanhart@hotmail.com


Source: PR Newswire