After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death among American citizens. This horrible disease affects thousands of people annually, taking many lives away. In 2014 alone, up to 591,699 people died of cancer.
Luckily, doctors are trying hard to come up with a successful treatment for decades now, which is the reason why the cancer death rate has dropped 23 percent since 1991. Specifically, that is over 1.7 million lives saved in the period between 1991 and 2012. This is partly due to cancer awareness and the development of new, advanced cancer method.
Traditional Cancer Treatments
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are the three major cancer treatments. Nevertheless, there are many alternative treatments, depending on the patient. As reported by the Canadian Cancer Society, oncologists base treatments plan on:
- The cancer type ( which part of the body is affected)
- The cancer`s characteristics ( such as the way a specific placement of a tumor affects organ function)
- The stage of cancer
- Patient`s wishes
For instance, if a middle-aged woman is diagnosed with stage I breast cancer with a 2-cm tumor in the left breast; she would be typically recommended a lumpectomy followed up with radiation. But, if she chose to refuse radiation therapy, she would be offered a full mastectomy instead, a procedure where a full removal of the breast occurs and it doesn’t require radiation if the cancer hasn’t spread outside the breasts.
Celine Ryan’s Cancer Story
At the time when Celine Ryan was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer, she was a 48-old engineer and mother of five. Her treatment involved surgery, followed by six months of chemo and radiation. As described by Celine herself,
“Chemo was challenging for me both physically and emotionally. My life revolved around treatments and support measures. I had unexplainable pain in my neck and back that radiated down both arms after the majority of infusions that lasted for days. My feet and hands were struck with neuropathy, and my eyes became painfully sensitive to light. I was nauseous day after day, despite taking meds to prevent it. Juggling the kids’ lessons, practices, and performances with my trips to the clinic was a logistical nightmare.”
Sadly, after her difficult treatment reached the end, the cancer returned in an incurable stage IV form. Celine was prescribed chemotherapy to keep the cancer in check until she eventually died. However, Celine didn’t come to terms with this, and soon applied for a clinical trial of TIL therapy led by Dr. Steve Rosenberg.
A New Hope: T-Cell Transfer Therapy (TIL)
Known as Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy, this alternative cancer treatment has been shown to exhibit amazing results in patients diagnosed with skin cancer. Celine`s bold move to apply for TIL therapy was what saved her life, although the treatment itself was unproven at the time.
How it works?
When the body is fighting cancerous cells, it creates lymphocytes, white blood cells that fight off the affected cells.
The therapy is very simple, though. Doctors take sample of the lymphocytes produced by the body to fight cancer, and then they create a massive army of the same cancer-fighters in the lab. When done, they put them back into the body!
Celine`s story serves as great example of the importance of taking a proactive role in your own treatment. Ask question, do your own research, and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.