Respectful Insolence

I hadn’t planned on writing about Suzanne Somers again so soon. After all, I haven’t yet received the promotional copy of her book (Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer–And How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place) that a most generous reader has sent to me, and I didn’t think I’d have a chance until a few days after the book arrived. However, something’s been bothering me since yesterday’s post, and it’s bothering me enough that I think it deserves a followup post of its own. I alluded to it briefly during part of my post, but I really think it’s something to be explored in a little more depth, particularly since Chapter 1 of Knockout is available online. Also, look again (if you can stand it) or for the first time at Somers’ interview with Ann Curry:

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In Chapter 1, Somers describes a cancer scare. Specifically, she describes an incident in which she was brought to the hospital with what sounds like an anaphylactic reaction of some sort and was misdiagnosed with what she calls “full body cancer.” Now, I don’t know what “full body cancer” is, but I do know what full body stupid is, and Somers has it in spades.

Be that as it may, I do want to say right here that I’m not referring to Somers’ “full body stupid” because of her misdiagnosis. It’s quite possible that she was misdiagnosed with widespread metastasis from her breast cancer. I also don’t want to under estimate how much it probably scared her. Imagine yourself having survived breast cancer and then, eight years later, being admitted to a hospital for something else and being told that you had widespread metastases. It’s a horrible thing, if it really happened the way Somers said it happened.

Color me somewhat skeptical, however. Certain elements of Somers’ whole story sound a bit fishy. Moreover, note how, on the interview, Somers declines to identify the hospital. Right at the outset, I wondered why that is and see a couple of likely reasons. First, she’s scared of being sued. Of course, if you’re a celebrity and the truth is on your side you probably don’t have much worry about being sued. In such a case, it’s far more likely that the entity suing would get the worst of it, at least as far as negative publicity. More likely, Somers knows that, whatever hospital she had been admitted to and whatever doctors had cared for her, patient confidentiality and HIPAA law prevents the hospital and doctors from discussing her case–or even admitting that Somers was a patient. Indeed, neither the hospital nor any of the health care professionals involved with Somers care can discuss her case without her explicit permission. Their hands are completely tied, and Somers can say whatever she wants without fear that anyone will contradict her. That’s why it disturbs me that no one who has interviewed Somers yet has asked her a handful of very obvious–and inconvenient–questions, namely:

  • At what hospital were you hospitalized and when?
  • Who were your doctors?
  • Will you release some of your medical records and allow your doctors to speak about your hospitalization?
  • If not, why not?

These are questions that need be asked in addition to questions about Somers’ support for Nicholas Gonzalez, whose pancreatic cancer “protocol” was recently shown to be worse than useless.

Now, on to the story:

I wake up. I can’t breathe. I am choking, being strangled to death; it feels like there are two hands around my neck squeezing tighter and tighter. My body is covered head to toe with welts and a horrible rash: the itching and burning is unbearable.

The rash is in my ears, in my nose, in my vagina, on the bottoms of my feet, everywhere — under my arms, my scalp, the back of my neck. Every single inch of my body is covered with welts except my face. I don’t know why. I struggle to the telephone and call one of the doctors I trust. I start to tell him what is happening, and he stops me: “You are in danger. Go to the hospital right now.” I knew it. I could feel that my breath was running out.

Right off the bat, to me this sounds like an allergic reaction to something or an anaphylactic reaction. It could be something else (more later), but the first thing that comes to mind is an allergic reaction. Indeed, upon hearing this story, I couldn’t help but wonder if one of the many supplements that Somers takes on a routine basis was the cause. Did she start any new supplements recently? Certainly I’d wonder about that. Regardless of the initial cause, it certainly sounded as though the E.R. docs thought she had some sort of allergic reaction going. They treated her appropriately with Benadryl, Albuterol, and steroids. Even someone as dim as Somers realized that:

I say to the doctor, “It seems to me that I’ve either been poisoned or am having some kind of serious allergic reaction to something. I mean, doesn’t that make sense? The rash, the strangling, the asphyxiation. Sounds classic, doesn’t it?”

“We don’t know. A CAT scan will tell us. I really recommend you do this,” the doctor says. “Next time you might not be so lucky — you might not get here in time. You were almost out.”

Why the doctor insisted on a CT scan, who knows? I don’t, and certainly Somers doesn’t give enough information for me to make a particularly educated guess. A CT scan is not generally the test of choice for diagnosing the cause of anaphylaxis or respiratory distress, which is what it sure sounds as though she was being treated for. Maybe doctors saw a mass on chest X-ray. Who knows? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. There may have been other findings on physical examination that suggested that a CT scan might be indicated. Again, in this chapter, at least, Somers doesn’t give us enough information to judge. She does, however, engage in typical pseudoscientific thinking. While acknowledging that those evil pharmaceuticals had saved her life, still she can’t help but hate on them:

I am now dressed in a blue hospital gown, and so far I’ve been reinforced by three rounds of oxygen and albuterol. I’m starting to feel normal again. Drugs have been my lifesaver this time. This is what they are for. Knowing the toxicity of all chemical drugs, I’ve already started thinking about the supplement regime and detox treatments I’ll have when I get out of here, to get all the residue of pharmaceuticals out of me. I’m hopeful this will be the one and only time I have to resort to Western drugs.

Remember, whenever you hear an alt-med maven say “Western medicine” (shades of Bill Maher!), what that alt-med maven is really referring to is science-based medicine. As for supplements, if they have anything in them that does anything physiological, they contain drugs. There is no difference between drugs found in pharmaceuticals and drugs found in supplements, other than that the drugs found in supplements are adulterated with all sorts of stuff. There is no magical difference between the two. They both contain chemicals, and the body responds to chemicals through its biochemistry. Nothing makes supplements magically immune to the laws of physics and chemistry. Moreover, “detox” treatments are completely unnecessary quackery. Somers’ body is more than capable of “detoxing” away those evil “Western” pharmaceuticals through its own amazing abilities. Somers appears to think that “Western” pharmaceuticals somehow leave their taint behind. Maybe she thinks the proteins in her body have a “memory” in the same way that homeopaths claim that water has “memory” and that the taint has to be somehow purged, just as a Catholic believes that confession purges sins or certain Muslim sects think that self-flagellation will purge them of their evil. It really is religious thinking, that Somers was somehow “contaminated” by “Western” pharmaceuticals and needs to have that “contamination” removed.

But I digress. So what did the CT scan find? This, apparently:

We have very bad news,” he continued. My heart started pounding, like it was jumping out of my chest. “You have a mass in your lung; it looks like the cancer has metastasized to your liver. We don’t know what is wrong with your liver, but it is so enlarged that it is filling your entire abdomen. You have so many tumors in your chest we can’t count them, and they all have masses in them, and you have a blood clot, and you have pneumonia. So we are going to check you into the hospital and start treating the blood clot because that will kill you first.”

Now, we already know that Somers did not, in fact, have cancer. I’ll get to that shortly. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what she says about her oncologist:

The oncologist comes into my room. He has the bedside manner of a moose: no compassion, no tenderness, no cautious approach. He sits in the chair with his arms folded defensively.

“You’ve got cancer. I just looked at your CAT scan and it’s everywhere,” he says matter-of-factly.

“Everywhere?” I ask, stunned. “Everywhere?”

“Everywhere,” he states, like he’s telling me he got tickets to the Lakers game. “Your lungs, your liver, tumors around your heart … I’ve never seen so much cancer.”

So the oncologist who saw Somers first was a world-class dick. It’s quite possible. Not every doctor has a good bedside manner, and some have a horrendous bedside manner. Sadly, some of them are oncologists, even though if there’s a specialty that really needs a good bedside manner, it’s that of medical oncologist. On the other hand, I just learned again not too long ago that the oncologist may not have been as bad as that, if my recent experience was any indication. A while back, I saw a patient with breast cancer in her hospital room, a woman I had operated on. I thought I had calmly laid out the situation, reassured her that her tumor was treatable, and told her that she might not need chemotherapy. About an hour later I got a frantic page from the floor. The patient was in tears, and the family was in an uproar. I don’t know how I had done it, but I had somehow given this patient the impression that her situation was hopeless. When her family arrived to take her home she was crying. Apparently she had interpreted my telling her that she might not need chemotherapy (mainly because of her age and tumor characteristics) as telling her that it was pointless to treat her more. I relearned a valuable lesson that day, one I need to relearn occasionally, unfortunately, namely that patients don’t always interpret what I tell them the way I think they will and that sometimes how I view a conversation may be very different than how the patient viewed the conversation. Fortunately, I was able to reassure everyone and correct the misconceptions that had been left, but I did not feel too good about my bedside manner that day. In fact, I felt for a while like the worst doctor in the world.

On the other hand, let’s just assume that Somers’ oncologist was a flaming asshole. it’s the worst case for “Western medicine” and it is not as uncommon as I’d like to admit. Besides, it’s easier. In that case, I’d say, “So what?” I’m sorry that her oncologist was a jerk. There’s no excuse for that. However, one nasty doctor does not invalidate “Western medicine,” nor does the occurrence of a misdiagnosis.

In any case, it’s quite possible that there was a bit of Somers hearing things one way when her doctors weren’t telling it the way she interpreted them as telling her. The reason I say that is because she goes on and on about how, over six days, doctors told her she needed chemotherapy, something that seemed quite unlikely to me when I read the story. The reason is that, in general, oncologists are very reluctant to give chemotherapy to someone without a definite tissue diagnosis proving that they have cancer, be it metastatic cancer or any cancer. This is doubly true in a case like what Somers describes in her book. Widespread cancer could be a recurrence of her breast cancer (especially given Somers’ proclivity to pump herself full of “bioidentical hormones” after having been treated for an estrogen receptor-positive cancer), but in a 63-year-old woman, there are lots of other possible malignancies. What would be used for breast cancer might not work very well against, say, colon cancer or ovarian cancer, another likely possibility. Another reason I seriously question whether doctors were pushing hard for chemotherapy in a mere six days is because, if they truly thought she had such a massively widespread recurrence of her breast cancer, particularly an estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, all treatment would be palliative. Consequently, the first rule is to do as little as possible to relieve symptoms. Most likely, an oncologist would have chosen to treat Somers first with an anti-estrogen drug, probably an aromatase inhibitor (no Tamoxifen if she had blood clots causing that much trouble!) and then seen how she did. Chemotherapy would be reserved for the case in which antiestrogen therapy failed. It might not even be used at all if the likelihood of success is tiny; in such cases, hospice would be recommended.

But the first thing that any competent oncologist would demand is a tissue diagnosis, either from a needle biopsy or other tissue, to prove that there was cancer and to identify the type of cancer, so that the correct chemotherapy could chosen. As I said, there’s something very fishy about Somers’ story. It just doesn’t add up very well. What I suspect to have happened is that perhaps the oncologist did have a conversation about a probable need for chemotherapy, and, like my conversation with my postoperative patient, Somers saw the conversation differently from how her doctors did. She probably viewed various “what if” conversations or “if this is recurrent breast cancer, then you will need this” conversations as “pressuring” her to take chemotherapy. If her oncologist wasn’t particularly warm and fuzzy and patient, she might have interpreted his recommendations that way even more.

Ultimately, Somers did get a biopsy. She describes it in her interview above, “They cut into my neck and went in and took a piece of my lung, a piece of one of the so-called tumors around my heart turned out it was not cancer at all.”

So what was it? Well, as I said before, I guess I’ll have to wait until the book arrives to find out. My first guess, though, was sarcoidosis, likely with a pneumonia complicating it. Even though she’s on the old side for a first presentation of sarcoidosis, which usually hits people between 20-40, in retrospect Somers’ presentation was pretty classic, as this article shows:

What are symptoms of sarcoidosis?

Shortness of breath (dyspnea) and a cough that won’t go away can be among the first symptoms of sarcoidosis. But sarcoidosis can also show up suddenly with the appearance of skin rashes. Red bumps (erythema nodosum) on the face, arms, or shins and inflammation of the eyes are also common symptoms.

It is not unusual, however, for sarcoidosis symptoms to be more general. Weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, fever, or just an overall feeling of ill health can also be clues to the disease.

Those tumors around Somers’ heart? They were probably enlarged hilar lymph nodes, which are classic for sarcoidosis, which can also be associated with shortness of breath. I could, of course, be wrong. I’ll find out soon enough. Or maybe not. It wouldn’t surprise me if Somers never tells her readers exactly what she had–or even knows exactly what she had. From what I can gather she appears to have had a blood clot, which made the E.R. docs worry about a pulmonary embolus, and she had all these masses “around her heart,” as well as an enlarged liver. Sarcoidosis may account for it, but there are certainly other possibilities to account for the apparent misdiagnosis.In the meantime, while I await the arrival of Knockout (of my neurons), perhaps my internal medicine colleagues could weigh in on the differential diagnosis of Somers’ presentation as reported in her book. As I sometimes say with false modesty, I’m just a dumb surgeon.

Whatever Somers had, I guess we can blame an oncologist with a bad bedside manner, doctors too quick to leap in and tell her she had widespread metastatic cancer before getting a tissue diagnosis, and what appears to be an understandable (at least initially) misdiagnosis for her latest book. Of all the people this sort of thing had to happen to, it had to happen to someone who is so prone to pseudoscience that she saw this all as a validation that her distrust of “Western medicine” must be right and that all those “brave maverick doctors” who are allegedly “curing cancer” must be right. The result is a book that lionizes quacks like Nicholas Gonzalez under the guise of bringing “hope” to cancer patients.

I’m beginning to ask myself if I really want to go through with my project of blogging this book, but I’ll steel myself up and do it–again, at least as long as my sanity can handle it. Hopefully I’ll finish my project by Thanksgiving. The things I do for my readers. Or to my readers. I haven’t quite made up my mind about that.

ADDENDUM: Don’t forget, send some “inconvenient questions” to Larry King Live. Somers is going to be appearing on the show on Friday night. Chief among them: Will you release some of your medical records or give your physicians permission to speak about your diagnosis and treatment? My guess is that what Somers understood of her treatment and diagnosis is related to her actual diagnosis and treatment mainly by coincidence.

Comments

  1. #1 SuzanneSomersIsAnIdiot
    October 22, 2009

    Hopefully she’ll get cancer and learn firsthand just how “effective” her recommended treatments are…

  2. #2 Pablo
    October 22, 2009

    As I commented in the other thread yesterday, I heard her for about 30 secs on Thom Hartmann. Barf.

    Her problem, apparently, is that “Western medicine” doctors won’t lie to her and assure her that they can “cure” her cancer.

    Meanwhile, given what we know about Dr Nick, apparently the good thing about the doctors in her book is that they WILL lie to her.

  3. #3 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 22, 2009

    Western medicine – is that when you bite down on a leather strap while Tex digs a bullet out of your side with a Bowie knife?

    Also, Somers’ story is more than fishy. It’s rotting corpse of a beached blue whale-y.

  4. #4 Ubai
    October 22, 2009

    Thanks for the video and great post about breast cancer. That’s help me a lot

  5. #5 Whitecoat Tales
    October 22, 2009

    Just an aside, as a student going into emergency med.
    One of the more common reasons we CT someone who is in respiratory distress is concern for pulmonary embolism. I’ve noticed though that in a patient who is less of a clear slam dunk “anaphylaxis or allergic reaction” patient who is wheezing (especially unilaterally), index of suspicion for PE goes up. I suspect her presentation was less classic than she’s saying on TV now. Patients almost never are as straight forward as they say they were later!

  6. #6 sophia8
    October 22, 2009

    “Hopefully she’ll get cancer and learn firsthand just how “effective” her recommended treatments are…”
    NO please – that’s a horrible thing to wish on anybody. What I’d like her to get is something non-terminal but chronic and which can only be helped by so-called “Western” medicine. Since I have tachycardia, that would be my choice – only beta-blockers and (in some cases) surgery work with that.

  7. #7 titmouse
    October 22, 2009

    Hopefully she’ll get cancer and learn firsthand just how “effective” her recommended treatments are…

    That never works. Steve McQueen’s cancer was “cured” and he died of something else. Christine Maggiore didn’t have AIDS; she died of community acquired pneumonia. The pseudoscientists are brilliant post-hoc explainers.

    Saying you hope someone gets cancer makes you sound like you can’t manage your anger. It’s a little scary being around such people.

    I am angry about medical misinformation that harms patients. But I don’t wish for anyone to get cancer.

  8. #8 James Sweet
    October 22, 2009

    “Full body cancer” would imply that every cell in your body was cancerous — or, that you yourself were in fact a cancerous tumor.

    So yeah… Suzanne Somers a cancer on society? Sounds like the docs made the right diagnosis after all…

  9. #9 Denice Walter
    October 22, 2009

    Coincidentally, I was looking up business info on Somers’ company, which is listed as being in Marina del Rey; I think she lives in Malibu.It’s *just* possible that the hospital was in Santa Monica.Not exactly the third world.

  10. #10 James Sweet
    October 22, 2009

    Whitecoat Tales gives an interesting hypothesis for why a CT scan was ordered, but there may even be a simpler explanation: It’s conceivable the hospital just got a new toy and some doctor had a hard-on to use it. That kind of crap is not at all unheard of, unfortunately…

    Speaking as a complete amateur, one of the most startling revelations (for me) from the rise of SBM is the idea that sometimes screening/diagnosis/monitoring can be a bad thing, statistically speaking. I suspect it will take some time for the medical community to fully wrap its collective head around such a counter-intuitive idea. (It’s certainly taking me some time to wrap my head around it!)

  11. #11 Pablo
    October 22, 2009

    Hopefully she’ll get cancer …

    I thought she already DID have cancer? And she doesn’t anymore, due to those evil Western medicine doctors who never cure anyone…

  12. #12 Uncle Dave
    October 22, 2009

    Well one things for certain, These celeb’s sure get a lot of great book publicity regardless of content.
    Must drive real writers nuts (keep in mind that these types do not really write the book, thier agent usually finds them someone who can actually write).
    Similar to when they begin dabling in painting in thier spare time, thier paintings are often good sellers because its not the content of the painting (althought Jonathan Winter’s has produced some pretty good art) it is the celebrity whom painted that is the draw.

    That being said, its free country and your allowed to take really bad information and advice and kill yourself and your family with it. Maybe this is part of the evolutionary process to thin out the herd a bit.

    There was a time when alternative medicine was merely to get a second opinion from another doctor (preferably a specialist).

  13. #13 Dangerous Bacon
    October 22, 2009

    Orac: “Those tumors around Somers’ heart? They were probably enlarged hilar lymph nodes, which are classic for sarcoidosis.”

    This could have been the case. However, I’ve never ever heard of enlarged hilar lymph nodes being described (to a patient or among doctors) as “tumors around the heart”.

    I suspect the doctors at the hospital where she was seen for “full body cancer” are now receiving therapy for ocular damage sustained due to uncontrollable eye-rolling after hearing her account. Whatever the real story is, it’s very unlikely to closely resemble what Somers is claiming.

    The part about “detoxing” her body from the drugs that apparently just saved her life is hilarious, though.

  14. #14 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 22, 2009

    James Sweet:
    The concept of screening tests seems like a great one, but a good screening test is actually very hard to achieve. Briefly (and non-mathematically) the characteristics of an ideal screening test:
    1. Sensitive – able to pick up most or all cases
    2. Specific – able to pick up cases without falsely identifying normals as positive
    3. verifying the positives should be low-risk
    4. they should indentify a diagnosis that can be treated effectively
    5. the screening test should be risk-free, easy to administer, and inexpensive.

    Most proposed screening tests fail on one or more of these requirements.

  15. #15 Jyotsana
    October 22, 2009

    Pablo #2 – I listened to that whole nauseating interview. At one point I actually thought Hartmann was going to call her on her bullshit, but I was sadly mistaken. She made the comment that in Europe men are not treated for prostate cancer, to which Thom responded with an incredulous, “What?!” But that was as far as his skepticism went. She went on to say (I’m paraphrasing here) that men with prostate cancer in Europe are just given testosterone and because that’s what the cancer wants…if we can just find out what the cancer wants and give it to the cancer then everything will be hunky-dory. I don’t think I have ever felt so strong a desire to go all Office Space on my radio until she hit my airwaves. Needless to say, my respect for Hartmann has slipped tremendously.

  16. #16 Scott
    October 22, 2009

    However, I’ve never ever heard of enlarged hilar lymph nodes being described (to a patient or among doctors) as “tumors around the heart”.

    I don’t see that as a problem, given that it’s only Suzanne’s story that they were so described. And given the possibilities of incorrect memory (perhaps exacerbated by attitude) and/or ‘artistic’ license in Suzanne presenting things more firmly than they actually were said, I find it hard to consider that as solid evidence.

  17. #17 Pablo
    October 22, 2009

    I suspect the doctors at the hospital where she was seen for “full body cancer” are now receiving therapy for ocular damage sustained due to uncontrollable eye-rolling after hearing her account. Whatever the real story is, it’s very unlikely to closely resemble what Somers is claiming.

    That’s why it would be so interesting to hear their side of the story. I gotta admit, though, I’m not optimistic. I can’t imagine her identifyng the hospital or doctors, or releasing her medical records. The truth might actually come out, which would make the stories in her book questionable.

  18. #18 Scott
    October 22, 2009

    Good grief, I keep deleting half my comments today. This should have been the other half of #16:

    So I don’t see why you saw the need to raise this objection, given that you clearly recognize that Suzanne’s story is unlikely to be accurate.

  19. #19 Pablo
    October 22, 2009

    I don’t think I have ever felt so strong a desire to go all Office Space on my radio until she hit my airwaves. Needless to say, my respect for Hartmann has slipped tremendously.

    And to think just a week or two ago, he had Richard Dawkins on (and it was a good interview). Of course, as I noted at the time, only 1/2 hour before, Hartmann commented how he doesn’t trust giving vaccines to kids

  20. #20 Andreas Johansson
    October 22, 2009

    Someone fill me in on “bioidentical hormones” – is it just newspeak for artificial hormones?

  21. #21 djbaxter
    October 22, 2009

    Yes, I see it (in Canada).

    Just go into your AdSense Publishers setup/control panel. You have the option to block certain ads or domains. You’ll find instructions on how to do this on the AdSense site.

    AdSense Setup | Competitive Ad Filter

    https://www.google.com/adsense/filter-online

  22. #22 Jyotsana
    October 22, 2009

    Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by Hartmann’s interview of Dawkins given his (Hartmann’s) spirituality. A year or two ago when he was interviewing the guy from Freethought Radio (I think…it’s been a while) Hartmann was almost hostile. Used to be I could just ignore him when he spouted woo, but after the Somers interview I’ve hit my limit. I’m done. I’m switching my radio back to music for a while.

  23. #23 nitramnaed
    October 22, 2009

    Suzanne Somers is one big tumor???
    Can’t plastic surgery fix that???

  24. #24 T.Bruce McNeely
    October 22, 2009

    Somers’ comments about prostate cancer treatment in Europe are based on a real difference, but then go off into Bizarro World. In Europe, low grade prostate cancers in men older than a certain age are managed by “watchful waiting”, rather than prostatectomy, since the rationale is that the patient is likely going to die of some other natural cause before the cancer progresses. I would expect that cancer in a younger person, or a higher grade cancer would be treated more aggressively. And treating prostate cancer with testosterone would be exactly the WRONG thing to do. Prostate cancer is testosterone dependent. Advanced cases are treated with testosterone antagonists!
    I’m making these statements without having viewed the interview (I had a good breakfast and I don’t want to lose it) and not having more than a general knowledge of urologic oncology in Europe or the USA. If I’m wrong, I welcome corrections.

    Anyway, since when did Hollywood become a Center of Medical Excellence?

  25. #25 trrll
    October 22, 2009

    Yes, “Bioidentical” is just newspeak for synthetic hormones. The “bioidentical” just refers to a hormone that is produced by the human body. So it’s hormone replacement therapy under a fancy name that lets the manufacturer charge a premium for dirt-cheap generic hormone. Needless to say, hanging the “bioidentical” label on a hormone doesn’t eliminate its side effects, and estrogen is the very last thing that somebody who has had an estrogen-sensitive tumor should be taking.

    But of course, it is an article of faith among the woo-full that all hazards of drugs derive from their “unnatural” nature, so there’s no way a “bioidentical” hormone can hurt you

  26. #26 Andreas Johansson
    October 22, 2009

    @trrll: Thank you.

    I guess I should be positively surprised – I’ve encountered more than one woo-woo who believed the very same chemical to be good if made in a plant or animal but evil if made in a lab.

  27. #27 Uncle Dave
    October 22, 2009

    Dear Suzane;

    Das scientific und medizin is nicht fur gefingerpoken and mittengrabben. Ist easy der misversten unt schnappen, blowenfusn und poppencorken mit speizensparken. Das rubbernecken sightseeren musten keepen das cotton-pickenen mund shuten and relaxen und jus watchen das blinkenlights!

  28. #28 The Perky Skeptic
    October 22, 2009

    I would not find it surprising if Somers heard the words “lymph nodes” and her mind automatically heard “lymphoma.” Perhaps she doesn’t know the difference.

  29. #29 Uncle Dave
    October 22, 2009

    The above pig german warning is a veriation on a similar message once displayed on the front panel of my SEM

  30. #30 BadSeed
    October 22, 2009

    If it was sarcoidosis presenting in such a dramatic & potentially organ-threatening fashion, doesn;t it seem likely that methotrexate plus steroids would be a pretty standard treatment recommendation?
    Maybe someone tried to explain methotrexate as a chemo drug and she heard that through the filter of her own woo-soaked beliefs. I could see docs trying pretty hard to convince someone they needed to take a serious medication for their potentially life-threatening disease.

  31. #31 James F
    October 22, 2009

    Um, Orac…have you seen this? Deirdre Imus and friends in rare form.

  32. #32 Credentialed
    October 22, 2009

    James F, there’s a whole lot of stupid in that link. When Sean Hannity is the most reasonable voice in a YouTube clip…I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.

  33. #33 Jyotsana
    October 22, 2009

    If anyone wants to stomach the Thom Hartmann/Suzanne Somers interview, you can find it here: http://www.thomhartmann.com/2009/09/09/program-highlights/ (look for “Cancer Cure”). In listening to it again (and developing a large bruise from slamming my head into the desk), I realized I was wrong…Thom doesn’t say, “What?!” he says, “They watch it.” No skepticism at all. *sigh*

  34. #34 Uncle Dave
    October 22, 2009

    About the james F’s link;

    Holy shit!!! You have got a minister and Deirdre Imus talking about vaccines to Sean Hannity. They should have our cat on that show, he has managed to learn how to open doors with his paws.

    Imus when asked by Hannity, “your telling people not to get the H1N1 vaccine?”
    Imus replies, “I’m not saying that. I am saying research it.”

    Clearly idiot Imus appears to be feeling some sort of pressure otherwise she would have said, “Yea I’m saying don’t get the virus.”

    I beleive a lot of these babbling fools may be approaching judgement day and they are beginning to feel warmth near thier ass.

  35. #35 Jeff Read
    October 22, 2009

    I dunno about you, but when I hear Western medicine, I think of giving a guy whiskey and digging a bullet out of him with a Bowie knife.

  36. #36 Orac
    October 22, 2009

    Ah, but was the Bowie knife sterilized with flame or alcohol? :-)

  37. #37 Rebecca
    October 22, 2009

    If her liver is enlarged, and if that is not caused by the sarcoidosis or whatever it is that she had, I wonder if all of the crap “supplements” that she ingests are causing liver damage. Wonder what her LFT’s look like.

  38. #38 Borack
    October 22, 2009

    Orac,

    Sarcoidosis? Nope. Wrong again. Suzanne admitted on TV she had an acute pulmonary fungal infection, valley fever. Try going back to medical school, you mental midget.

  39. #39 Becca Stareyes
    October 22, 2009

    So, basically when Orac admits he’s essentially working from secondhand narrative and incomplete information — i.e., he can’t ask the patient questions or perform his own tests, or even get the doctors’ narratives — you, Borack, feel that his inability to correctly reconstruct things is an automatic sign that it was a deficit in his education, rather than the fact he didn’t have all the information and was making a best guess about what happened from what he knows (with the idea that he can revise it if more information presents itself, and with caveats). I guess when I get ‘I saw something odd in the sky’ emails from people and attempt to answer these, if I get them wrong*, I need to retake Astro 101, rather than just give my standard caveats about how describing something to me isn’t the same as me seeing it myself.

    * And I probably do.

  40. #40 Kismet
    October 22, 2009

    Borack who the hell are *you*?

  41. #41 Alex
    October 22, 2009

    @31:

    Wow. What a bunch of kooks. Did Hannity say ‘Ammonia’? I’ll get ammonia if I get H1N1 flu?

    Also, wow, Hannity looks like the sane one.

  42. #42 carykoh
    October 22, 2009

    Yeah, I do think this could be valley fever, it would explain the rash as well. I also think any atypical viral infection could explain what sound like a rash, lymphadenopathy and possibly hepatitis with that ‘enlarged liver’. If it was valley fever, there probably was a strong push for her to take Diflucan, which she may have viewed as ‘chemotherapy’, and I don’t doubt Weil et al would likely have a more ‘natural’ therapy. The reason for the CT is likely looking for PE, probably her complaints seemed out of proportion with her exam, and she certainly has risk factors for PE, including history of Breast CA, estrogen use, and probably recent travel. I can’t tell from this if in fact she did have a PE, if she did, then that’s a second reason for her not to be on hormones, bioidentical or not.

  43. #43 Maezeppa
    October 22, 2009

    There is zero evidence Somers ever had breast cancer. She was caught getting a boob job and said it was “reconstructive” surgery.

    She’s not stupid, though – she’s got her own jet and a few mansions peddling her nostrums on QVC.

  44. #44 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 22, 2009

    Apologies for the OT but why, Orac, why?. Even as (yet another) drive-by snark, this is quite misplaced.

  45. #45 Maezeppa
    October 22, 2009

    There is zero evidence Somers ever had breast cancer. She was caught getting a boob job and said it was “reconstructive” surgery.

    She’s not stupid, though – she’s got her own jet and a few mansions peddling her nostrums on QVC.

  46. #46 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 22, 2009

    Borack, if you knew anything about sarcoidosis and coccidiomycosis (Valley Fever), you would know that the signs, symptoms and even the pathology are very similar. In fact, part of the diagnostic workup for sarcoidosis is specific testing to rule out Coccidiomycosis.
    So a guess of sarcoidosis, given the limited information, is pretty damned good.
    BTW, maybe you should consider a refresher course yourself at Troll Medical School.

  47. #47 Credentialed
    October 22, 2009

    I’ve read some of the excerpt now…Somers really doesn’t have a clue.

    In her story, the evil Dr. Oncologist says “Well, you should have told me you were on steroids” after the “full-body cancer” “misdiagnois” and her response:

    I am not on steroids. I would never take steroids. But because he is stuck in old thinking and so out of touch with new medicine, he has no clue and doesn’t understand cortisol replacement as part of the menopausal experience…Why steroids would have anything to do with being misdiagnosed with full-body cancer, I can’t guess.

    Here’s a guess, brainiac: you constatly talk about taking steroid hormones. Newsflash! “Bioidentical” (a stupid, stupid term) means that they’re identical to the steroids your body produces or those found in FDA-approved evil BigPharma medications. Thus, Dr. Chrissy Snow, you have been taking steroids. Sex hormones like estrogen are steroids whether from a pill marketed by the evilest of those Pharma corporations or your friendly neighborhood. substantially-less-regulated compounding pharmacy.

    Why would anyone take medical advice from this two-bit actress? Or any actress?

  48. #48 k
    October 22, 2009

    “Bioidentical hormones” = some compounded
    woo-knows-what cream/ointment/gel “prescribed”
    by a woo practitioner after the results
    of a saliva test or two are known. May
    contain “mountain yam” (from which Syntex
    first synthesized artificial hormones);
    usually made up at a compounding pharmacy;
    and what the FDA rightly calls “unapproved
    new drugs”. (Disclaimer: I have a
    woo-meister friend whose specialty is BIHT.
    She lives in the hotbed of natur-woo-pathy,
    Portland OR. I’ve heard a lot of burning
    stupid on this topic…)

    Has Somers run the pharmaceutical-laden
    “TCM” gamut, claiming it’s the cure-all,
    end-all, yet?

    OT – does anyone know offhand if the
    aforementioned mountain yam is the tuber
    “yama-imo” used in Japanese dishes like yamakake,
    valued for its sticky consistency? Never
    have been able to find that out…

  49. #49 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 22, 2009

    k @ 47. I’m in Eugene–our woo is powerful as well. Fortunately for me, Orac has blogged on BIHT before:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/11/from_the_ridiculous_to_the_sublime_a_jou.php

  50. #50 NancyR
    October 22, 2009

    Great post.

  51. #51 Anthro
    October 22, 2009

    Borack might be a troll, but you all seem hyper-sensitive to his criticism. I was going to post that Orac shouldn’t bother doing third-hand diagnosis as I thought this sort of thing to be unethical?

    SS is nuts and I’m not sure there is any value in going on and on about it. Most of the shows she’s on don’t really do interviews–they host “appearances” of popular people who write goofy books and somehow manage to get them published. Makes me glad I killed my television years ago.

    As to Hartmann, that’s as sad as the otherwise funny 2009 Dawkins Award Winner. Hartmann has a lot of “maverick” ideas as do a lot of people’s views I otherwise like.

    Again, the bigger question is–why will so many people buy SS’s book (and all the others like it) and believe every word in it and what can the skeptic/medical community do about it? Somers’ story about the bedside manner of her doctor (true or not, it’s her perception) is what I hear from a lot of woo-oriented friends. Some people deeply internalize an experience in which someone in supposed authority makes them feel “small” or unimportant. They are the same people who have a terrible time with grief and cannot say that someone DIED (which is why they love the concept of afterlife), but always that they “passed” or “crossed over”.

    This problem (woo) is as intractable as religion, and the only answer is education, education, education.

  52. #52 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 22, 2009

    Anthro:
    I’m not aware of any ethical issues with speculating on a diagnosis of a public figure, especially if she releases detailed information about her condition. And hypersensitive? Remember that Borack called Orac a “mental midget” and suggested he go back to medical school. That’s not criticism, that’s abuse. And he’s not even correct when he implies that it’s a dumb error!

  53. #53 Orac
    October 22, 2009

    Apologies for the OT but why, Orac, why?. Even as (yet another) drive-by snark, this is quite misplaced.

    I beg to differ. It is truly annoying and blows my irony meter to smithereens to see PZ going on about how Chris is supposedly “obsessed” with his critics when PZ never misses a chance to highlight negative reviews of the book. My point was that it’s a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Suffice it to say that it annoyed me.

  54. #54 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 22, 2009

    Borack who the hell are *you*?

    I’m thinking perhaps it’s “David M.”, who in this post apparently believed that he was achieving a decisive rhetorical victory that would be marveled at for all the ages by calling Orac ‘Borat.’ Was looking for an old post and came across that one by accident, so it was fresh in my mind. Apparently if it is David M. he hasn’t gotten one whit more intelligent in the intervening time.

  55. #55 Chris Krolczyk
    October 22, 2009

    Pablo:

    As I commented in the other thread yesterday, I heard her for about 30 secs on Thom Hartmann. Barf.

    You too, huh?

    I heard her for longer than that and wondered if she was on a publicity tour to hawk her new Volume o’ Woo. Apparently, she is.

  56. #56 Chris Krolczyk
    October 22, 2009

    Jyotsana:

    Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by Hartmann’s interview of Dawkins given his (Hartmann’s) spirituality. A year or two ago when he was interviewing the guy from Freethought Radio (I think…it’s been a while) Hartmann was almost hostile.

    I don’t get how he goes from interviewing Dawkins to interviewing Suzanne Somers and falling for her woo hook, line and sinker, but I get the ominous feeling that it has less to do with his Christianity (which is hardly fundamentalist) than an inability or unwillingness to fact-check her claims due to some sense of misplaced sensitivity.

    Used to be I could just ignore him when he spouted woo, but after the Somers interview I’ve hit my limit. I’m done. I’m switching my radio back to music for a while.

    I agree with him on some things and just as vehemently disagree on others, but uncritically hawking Somers’ nonsense was very, very regrettable, to say the least.

  57. #57 Tsu Dho Nimh
    October 22, 2009

    Suzanne admitted on TV she had an acute pulmonary fungal infection, valley fever

    And that can show all sorts of interesting tumor-like things on your x-rays. http://www.residentandstaff.com/files/ArticleFiles/RSP_24_figs.gif

    The University of AZ used to send a cocci information sheet back with any visiting archaeology students and profs after a Japanese guy had a lung removed in Tokyo for “cancer” that was really Coccidioides immitis that he caught on a dig.

  58. #58 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 22, 2009

    I beg to differ. It is truly annoying and blows my irony meter to smithereens to see PZ going on about how Chris is supposedly “obsessed” with his critics when PZ never misses a chance to highlight negative reviews of the book.

    So do you have similar objections when he repeatedly points out the failings of his other adversaries? PZ certainly has been persistent in telling Dembski to move on from the ‘irreducible complexity’ nonsense–and is similarly quick to link to new manifestations thereof. How is this any different?

    Indulging in pointing and laughing at an opponent’s fuck-ups is a common practice on your blog(s), and many others. Why is this particular instance so annoying?

    My point was that it’s a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    If PZ were continuing to nitpick the content of UA, and then calling the authors out for responding to his criticisms, you would have a point. This isn’t what’s happening, though. He is criticizing M&K’s protracted rebuttals of all the bad reviews their book received. Whether or not you agree with the negative reviews, it’s generally seen as a bad sign when authors spend this much time attempting to justify the ideas in their published work.

    Again, I’m sorry for the off-topic–I just don’t know where else to talk about this.

  59. #59 Orac
    October 22, 2009

    Geez. Did I read right? Did you really just compare Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum to Bill Dembski? That’s a really low blow.

  60. #60 Steve
    October 22, 2009

    Please keep at it. I am a 23 year survivor of Ewings Sarcoma (diagnosed at 22). Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation absolutely saved my life. Suzanne Somers is dangerous and spreading false information that could kill people. Real doctors need to speak out and loud and specifically about how off base and dangerous this woman is. You are doing a great job….please keep at it and save lives !! We need you.

  61. #61 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 23, 2009

    Did you really just compare Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum to Bill Dembski?

    Not exactly–I compared PZ mode of response to both–relevant criticism on the substance of their ideas, delivered with a healthy dose of mockery. My point is that while you complain about PZ’s tactics, your real beef seems to be with his choice of targets. If that’s the case, so be it, but at least be honest about what is truly ‘annoying’ you.

    This may not be interesting or current enough for you to blog about at this point, and I completely respect that choice. But for someone who is usually so articulate and (appropriately) ruthless when speaking his mind, the passive-aggressive drive-bys on Pharyngula and on The Intersection seem a bit out of character.

  62. #62 Orac
    October 23, 2009

    I gave the topic exactly the amount of effort that I thought it deserved. Quite frankly, I’m tired of the pissing match that developed between PZ and Chris, and I tend to view PZ as more at fault (with Chris being rather dumb for rising to the bait) for reasons I will not go into here.

    It is rather interesting, though, your choice of examples to illustrate your point. A Freudian slip, perhaps?

  63. #63 Whamocat
    October 23, 2009

    Somers apparently has no beef with western style plastic surgery. I don’t mean the boob job – her face looks reconstructed.

  64. #64 Anthro
    October 23, 2009

    T. Bruce:

    I take your point that Borack is a nasty character and apologies if I’m mistaken on the ethics issue–I’m just a layperson here trying to follow this somewhat technical thread. It’s just that when I ask a doctor if some symptom could be this or that, I’m always told that he or she couldn’t possibly speculate on a diagnosis without examining me. Also, Sommers was very thin on detail in the part of the book Orac was using, but maybe he had enough to go on–again, I wouldn’t be qualified to really know. In spite of his name-calling, I think it was fair of Borack to contribute additional information if he knows something about Sommers’ illness (IF being the question, I guess).

    Perhaps I should give up this blog. I came here because it seemed a good place to pick up arguments to counter the woo that pervades my life, but it seems to be an Orac fan club and I get somewhat smacked down quite often. Maybe I should just stop commenting!

  65. #65 Uncle Dave
    October 23, 2009

    Thank god this amazing person whom was keeping files on doctors that were actually curing cancer!!!!!
    To think that there are individuals hopelessly going to recognized cancer centers around this country who have no idea that they are wasting their time at these cancer centers. My god, they need to know about these doctors!!!! I need to save them!!!!

    F*&king self absorbed celebrity sleez bags. This sort of information used to be limited to carnivals and the traveling circus.
    No wonder people are distrustful of many things today, look at what qualifies as newsworthy today.

    You should be able to find this book in the fiction and humor section at Barnes and Noble.

  66. #66 Orac
    October 23, 2009

    Another Somers gem:

    Why steroids would have anything to do with being misdiagnosed with full-body cancer, I can’t guess. But we still don’t know what has gone wrong in my body. We still have to find out what caused me to end up in the ER.

    Uh, because you pumped yourself full of not just “bioidentical” hormones but cortisol too, and the cortisol suppressed your immune system, leading you to get a case of raging systemic coccidiomycosis that almost killed you!

    Damn. I should have looked for another excerpt instead of just relying on the MSNBC excerpt. The Insolence would have turned out so much more satisfying. Perhaps I’ll rectify that by analyzing the first chapter on SBM on Monday, pulling together everything I’ve learned into a more coherent and sober post, perfect to send to journalists. :-)

    I will, however, keep my promise not to write about this book any more here on RI until after I’ve read a few chapters.

  67. #67 Anita
    October 23, 2009

    When does this lady stop? First it’s weight loss, then menopause symptoms , then cancer. Is she an expert in everything>? I sure hope the average American reader does the research themselves and talks to their doctor before following this self proclaimed expert on all women’s issues!

  68. #68 dw
    October 23, 2009

    In reply to post 67: This lady will stop when the potential for generating attention and income is gone

  69. #69 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 23, 2009

    I came here because it seemed a good place to pick up arguments to counter the woo that pervades my life, but it seems to be an Orac fan club and I get somewhat smacked down quite often.

    Well, here’s just my humble opinion, but I think that if you read a glimmer of what could be a point embedded in the abusive screed of a troll, you might be better off asking that glimmer that you think you see outside of the context of ad hominem invective in which the troll chose to place it.

    If it were you, which of these would be more likely to evoke a serious response: “I had a doctor tell me that it would be unethical for him to speculate on a particular medical matter; is it ethical for you to speculate on this matter, and if so, what’s the difference between the two?” or “Gee, I think that guy who called you a ‘mental midget’ and told you to go back to medical school might have had a good point!”?

    I am not a doctor, but I see several differences between Orac’s speculation about Somers’ “whole body cancer” scare and the situations you alluded to where you were asking the doctors to speculate (actually, I should say it sounded more like you were asking the doctors to legitimize your speculations.) A past incident vs. a present incident; speculating in front of bystanders vs. directly to the patient; the hypotheses of a trained professional vs. those of a layman – it seems to me that any of these makes for a very big difference in what the ethical thing to do is.

  70. #70 tariqata
    October 23, 2009

    To Antaeus Feldspar: I think it also makes a difference that in this case, Suzanne Somers described her symptoms and said that she was misdiagnosed with cancer; as a non-doctor, I appreciate hearing an oncologist talk about how a doctor might interpret the symptoms she described. If the original post had purported to tell us exactly what Somers had with no caveats, I would be concerned, but I thought it was clear that Orac was offering a speculative explanation for the oddities in Somers’ story.

  71. #71 stripey_cat
    October 23, 2009

    Anthro said: “It’s just that when I ask a doctor if some symptom could be this or that, I’m always told that he or she couldn’t possibly speculate on a diagnosis without examining me.”

    This is because the doctor-friend is worried that you may use their back-of-a-beer-mat diagnosis or advice and base real medical treatment decisions on it. I’ve had similar experiences; and it is really down to the concern of your friend for you, that they could possibly give you information that meant you either didn’t see your own doctor, or undertook treatments you didn’t need, and hurt or killed yourself. The big difference here is that Madam Nut-job is unlikely to even see this, never mind base treatment decisions on it. And I sincerely hope that anyone reading scienceblogs knows better to base a diagnosis of their own condition on random stuff off the net.

  72. #72 bella
    October 23, 2009

    I believe this whole scenario that was written is nothing more than a farce! As I read the first chapter of Suzanne Sommers “Knockout” book, it is if I were reading a “novel”! And it seems interesting that a month prior to this “hospital event”, she was entertaining many in the medical field, who support her alternative beliefs, at her own home, discussing alternative medicine. Certainly, this woman is obsessed with her body, her sexuality, and her desire and passion to consume 100 supplements or more a day (Dr. Gonzalz’ recommendation?????), plus eating organic foods, and taking bio-identical harmones. But to me, the bottom line is that this is just one more book and a few more million dollars in her pocket!! There really isn’t much any one can do to stop this publicity stunt. She is being evasive about the second “diagnosis”, and like many, I do not believe there is such a thin as full body cancer. And I also don’t think any Oncologist would present his findings to a prospective cancer patient immediately, without doing more testing!! Further, I do not believe this “episode” had anything to do with cancer. So, I shall close by comparing Suzanne Sommers to the “Henne family balloon hoax”! Suzanne Sommers isn’t any different in this sham, the only thing being, it is rather doubtful she would ever be charged in Court with any felony or misdemeanor!! So, I would suggest saving your $$$$$. This book, like many others written by Suzanne Sommers is useless, and the content of this book possibly could cause MORE HARM AND EVEN DEATH to a person who has been or in the future will be diagnosed with cancer.

  73. #73 Militant Agnostic
    October 23, 2009

    If a person were a complete asshole wouldn’t cancer of the rectum be “full body cancer”?

  74. #74 Uncle Glenny
    October 23, 2009

    Anita opines @ 67:

    Is she an expert in everything>?

    Perhaps she should be put in charge of the Large Hadron Collider.

    On second thought, cancel that. Don’t anyone tell her about it!

  75. #75 Reginald
    October 23, 2009

    Susanne is clearly confused about her medical condition. I would advise her to see a reputable physician at any reputable hospital in the world. After that visit, perhaps she would have a better understanding of what cancer really is, its causes and cures.

    I am concerned that patients will read her ridiculous tripe and swallow it. Suzanne, if you want to write a book and get a message out there, let it be a carefully researched book. Pop-health books can be dangerous. Your will certainly lead some very sick people to make the wrong decisions.

    I would wish your book to be pulled off the market.

  76. #76 judy brock
    October 23, 2009

    Ok, you are my new favorite person in the whole world. I saw her on the Today show and I was like what the hell is she talking about. You are the bomb. I will follow you from this point on.

  77. #77 The Prophet
    October 23, 2009

    God teaches us in the bible that medicines are poison.
    Do a google search for the greek word “pharmakea” which is found in the bible several times. Pharmakea is where we get the modern word pharmacy. The greek word pharmakea translates to withcraft, sorcery, poison. So whenever you take a medicine, keep in mind, that it IS NOT A CURE. It is a poison just as the name pharmaceutical says it is. Man’s medcines cannot cure or heal. Only God can heal.

    So you can rely on man and his billion dollar business of selling you poisons, but the fact remains that no one can name one disease that is CURED by man’s medicine.
    They can’t even cure the sniffles.

    Glory to God.

    And for those who don’t believe the bible is the word of God even though it continues to prove time and time again to be a completely 100% accurate book, then how can you rely on man and his medicines that fail to heal 100% of the time. If you think killing cancer cells while killing immune system cells and healthy cells is a cure for cancer, then that’s the same as thinking cutting your nose off when it itches is a cure for itchiness.

  78. #78 Credentialed
    October 23, 2009

    Shorter version of The Prophet: WHAAARGARBL!

  79. #79 HCN
    October 23, 2009

    The Prophet said “Only God can heal.”

    By the Hammer of Thor! Which one?

  80. #80 The Prophet
    October 23, 2009

    The one that created you and everything else in the universe.

  81. #81 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 23, 2009

    The Prophet said “Only God can heal.”

    He’s obviously not doing a good job with psychotic delirium.

  82. #82 Zeus
    October 23, 2009

    Me?

  83. #83 The Enlightened One
    October 23, 2009

    That’s often what people will do when they can’t intelligently respond to the message… they will attack the messenger.

  84. #84 Not-so-innocent bystander
    October 23, 2009

    Do a google search for the greek word “pharmakea” “bibliov” which is found in the bible several times. Pharmakea Bibliov is where we get the modern word pharmacy bible. The greek word pharmakea bibliov translates to withcraft, sorcery, poison a book, document, or scroll. So whenever you take a medicine read the bible, keep in mind, that it IS NOT A CURE IS JUST A BOOK.

  85. #85 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 23, 2009

    That’s often what people will do when they can’t intelligently respond to the message… they will attack the messenger.

    O.K., here’s an intelligent response – pass the Haldol.

  86. #86 Militant Agnostic
    October 23, 2009

    The prophet spake thus

    And for those who don’t believe the bible is the word of God even though it continues to prove time and time again to be a completely 100% accurate book, then how can you rely on man and his medicines that fail to heal 100% of the time.

    Thanks Prophet for showing me the error of my ways – Since the the bible is 100% accurate, I will now go through the software I wrote to create my well test analysis reports and do a find and replace to change 3.1415926 to 3.0 since that is what the bible says the value of pi is.

  87. #87 Chris
    October 23, 2009

    The Prophet answered my question with “The one that created you and everything else in the universe.”

    Odin?

    Then the Enlightened one replied “they will attack the messenger.”

    Since when is asking a question to clarify which supernatural entity he was referring to considered an “attack”?

  88. #88 Dianne
    October 23, 2009

    The Prophet answered my question with “The one that created you and everything else in the universe.”

    Odin?

    Quetzelcoatl.

  89. #89 The Prophet
    October 23, 2009

    militant agnostic, you must be new to reading and undedrstanding the bible. If you did the math as is clearly shown here http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm
    you would see that pi as calculated from biblical times equates to 3.14, not 3.0 as you FALSELY claim.

    You’re welcome, and it was a blessing to teach you.

  90. #90 Dianne
    October 23, 2009

    you would see that pi as calculated from biblical times equates to 3.14, not 3.0 as you FALSELY claim.

    3.14 is also wrong.

  91. #91 The Prophet
    October 23, 2009

    Not-so-innocent bystander, you are wrong. The word bible in any form does not appear in the bible AT ALL! And the latin word for bible or greek word for bible is translated as Holy book (ie of God) So next time you read the Bible, remember it is the 100% accurate Word of God.

    From wikipedia…
    According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word bible[4] is from Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin, as used in the phrase biblia sacra (“holy book”—”In the Latin of the Middle Ages, the neuter plural for Biblia (gen. bibliorum) gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae, in which singular form the word has passed into the languages of the Western world.”)[5] This stemmed from the Greek term τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια (ta biblia ta hagia), “the holy books”, which derived from βιβλίον (biblion),[6] “paper” or “scroll,” the ordinary word for “book”, which was originally a diminutive of βύβλος (byblos, “Egyptian papyrus”), possibly so called from the name of the Phoenician port Byblos from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece.

    Biblical scholar Mark Hamilton states that the Greek phrase Ta biblia (“the books”) was “an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books several centuries before the time of Jesus,”[7] and would have referred to the Septuagint.[8] The Online Etymology Dictionary states, “The Christian scripture was referred to in Greek as Ta Biblia as early as c.223.”[4]

  92. #92 The Prophet
    October 23, 2009

    pi is an infinite number which cannot be re-produced here in the forum in decimal form, not in the bible in decimal form, but calculating it out to 2 decimal places is sufficient for all practical purposes of discussion and all construction purposes and all biblical purposes. So the bible continues to be 100% accurate and the detractors here continue to be ignorant. But don;t worry, your ignorance is not infinite like pi. No, your time is finite and you will find out your ignorance is finite too when you are infinitely separated from God. There you will be free to calculate pi to the near infinte limits. Enjoy!

  93. #93 ben k
    October 23, 2009

    She is clearly trying to sell a book. She is a businesswoman. Duh…

  94. #94 Uninterested...
    October 24, 2009

    The Prophet, you are boring. You are free to believe that the bible is “100% accurate” by whatever amorphous metrics and selective readings you prefer.

    Nobody else cares.

    Your invocation of a magical sky wizard is mundane. It’s facile, boring and ultimately superfluous. And not relevant to the current post.

    Be more interesting.

  95. #95 Prophet
    October 24, 2009

    ben k, Maybe she’s also trying to help people. Is $15 too much to pay to get information that could help you prevent cancer or treat cancer? $15 is the typical amount you would pay to walk into a dr office. At least with Somers’ book you are getting something in return.

  96. #96 Prophet
    October 24, 2009

    Have a good night children. Try to leave some logical and intelligent responses here tonight for me to respond to tomorrow. Any of your responses that deal with God not existing cannot be responded to by me because it is already self-evident that God exists because we can see via direct observation that we exist and we can see via direct obervation that the universe exists. To think that the universe or any other creation came into existence with no creator or no designer is simply illogical and ludicrous thinking and a sure sign of a lack of intelligence. Even a jungle man from the deepest parts of remote islands can logically conclude the existence of a Creator even if they never read the bible.

  97. #97 Uninterested...
    October 24, 2009

    QED, eh Propheteer?

  98. #98 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 24, 2009

    Prophet:

    I talked to God tonight. He says that you’re nuts.
    Prove me wrong!!!

  99. #99 a-non
    October 24, 2009

    Prophet is like a more boring version of Happeh.

  100. #100 alt.maven
    October 24, 2009

    Remember, whenever you hear an alt-med maven say “Western medicine” (shades of Bill Maher!), what that alt-med maven is really referring to is THE BOGUS PHARMACEUTICAL FUNDED science-based medicine. Now remember that, did ya get that?

  101. #101 Diane Miessler
    October 24, 2009

    Just found this after watching Larry King and trying to come up with a diagnosis for Ms. Sommers. I was thinking psychiatric, vs. medical. At first she sounded reasonable; as she continued, however, I became convinced she is a narcissist, and is lying about all of this. The CT for shortness of breath and rash; the “full body cancer” (a term I’ve never heard in 35 years of nursing, lately in ER and hospice); “they cut open my neck” to take lung biopsies? (no scar visible, by the way).

    She, or anyone, could write a book about alleged experiences in a hospital; if the hospital isn’t named, no one can respond or prove that NONE of it happened, which is my working hypothesis.

    I’m thinking she’s having trouble accepting her waning celebrity and this is a way to return to the spotlight. Can she produce any witnesses to her evening out/rash/ER visit? I wonder.

  102. #102 alt. maven
    October 24, 2009

    the only think waning here are u guys…

  103. #103 Tim
    October 24, 2009

    Somers made several statements on Larry King that were highly suspect or inconsistent with standards of care, guidelines, and protocols. She states that multiple physicians told her that she in fact had cancer, based only on the CT scans. Numerous non-cancerous conditions or diseases of the lung and liver can look highly consistent with cancer on imaging studies, and every physician is well aware of this.

    That’s why we do biopsies. That’s why physicians are taught in medical school that cancer MUST be confirmed with biopsies before a definitive diagnosis can be made or even treatment plan can be selected.

    Even supposing four doctors came to Somers and stated that she in fact had pervasive metastatic cancer on the sole basis of a CT scan without confirming through biopsy, no oncologist in the world is going to initiate chemotherapy without a biopsy. A biopsy is required to observe or evaluate certain characteristics of the cancer. Those characteristics can influence the chemotherapy selected by the oncologist. No biopsy = no chemo. So when Somers claims that doctors wanted to immediately begin chemotherapy in advance of a biopsy, which she refused, she is flat-out lying.

    Somers goes on to say that she was scheduled for surgery but didn’t understand why, since they had told her this cancer was inoperable. Well I sure as hell can think of a reason why they scheduled her for surgery – to perform a biopsy! And in fact, Somers says they “took a small piece of her lung” and sent it to the lab. THAT’S CALLED A BIOPSY YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH! They scheduled her for surgery to do a biopsy, which is exactly what you would expect.

    She then says they performed a “culture” on the lung tissue that they had removed. WTF? Culturing tissue is only done when some type of infection is suspected or should be ruled-out, whether from bacteria, fungus, or parasites. Someone HAD to suspect this may not be cancer at some point, either prior to surgery or during the surgery (e.g. based on the visual appearance of the lung tissue).

  104. #104 soggycereal
    October 24, 2009

    I am ABSOLUTELY BEGGING for the administration and doctors at that hospital she went to, to come forward and just list a STANDARD protocol for a patient that comes into their hospital with difficulty breathing and a rash. No mention of SS’S name or whether this was the hospital she was treated at or not.

  105. #105 Uncle Dave
    October 24, 2009

    Ya ever notice sometimes when you in a public place (like a street corner) and you see someone and you immediately say to yourself, “Self, DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT!”

    I believe we have just such an individual that got on the train.

  106. #106 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 24, 2009

    I have to say, I thought the two ‘Western’ doctors on the Larry King show did a smashing job considering their limited screen time and the fact that neither of them were able to complete a thought without Somers talking over them. They both came across as strong, credible advocates of science based medicine. They were very respectful to Somers and to Gonzales (!) and Burzhynski (!) but also managed to question them on a few key points (e.g. ‘why won’t you allow the medical community to evaluate the complete methods of the treatments you are marketing as successful to thousands of desperate patients?’, ‘what the hell does an immunity of ’43’ mean?’), with predictably uninformative responses. If anyone is acquainted with either of these two gentlemen, please high-five them for me next time you see them.

    And just to wrap this up–Orac @62:

    It is rather interesting, though, your choice of examples to illustrate your point. A Freudian slip, perhaps?

    Not Freudian at all, just going for name recognition. I could have easily said ‘Eagleton’ or ‘Armstrong’or ‘Wright’, etc. but thought ‘Behe’ would be most easily recognized and thus the point would be more swiftly appreciated. If pressed I could compare and contrast their respective strategies, but this is clearly not the time or place. Hey, at least I didn’t invoke Ray Comfort :) Peace.

  107. #107 Uncle Dave
    October 24, 2009

    @ Tim

    Tim said;
    “THAT’S CALLED A BIOPSY YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH! They scheduled her for surgery to do a biopsy, which is exactly what you would expect.”

    I’m cracking up!
    At some point I really do believe that stupid should burn (I was raised with the statement that stupid should hurt) and unfortunetly, it burns more for those that make the study of medicine their living.
    Next time they have her on, the should have a full dress witch doctor sitting next to her with a bone in his nose, nodding his head everytime she says something.

    Don’t it just make ya crazy!

  108. #108 Katharine
    October 24, 2009

    Apparently, the prophetard hasn’t heard of significant figures.

    Or empirical research.

  109. #109 amphiox
    October 24, 2009

    Well, mr. prophet, your 100% accurate bible says the following:

    Genesis 1:12-13 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

    Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    Genesis 1:31 And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

    Genesis 2:5-8 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

    So tell me, was man created after the plants, or before?

  110. #110 Tim
    October 24, 2009

    What irks me to no end is that these people sit at the table criticizing conventional medicine for its failures as though alternative medicine has achieved some kind of parity in proven or verifiable successes, like they have earned the right to be there through their successes.

    You can fit the verifiable successes of alternative medicine on the back of a postage stamp. Conventional medicine cures cancer, not in a handful of poorly documented cases or unverifiable anecdotal cases, but in THOUSANDS of verifiable cases every year with REPEATABLE results. In cases where cancer cannot be cured, conventional medicine substantially prolongs life with a reasonable quality of life in THOUSANDS of verifiable cases every year with REPEATABLE results.

    And they criticize conventional medicine because there are still cancer deaths? If the standard is to be a perfect track record, then alternative medicine has a perfect record of FAILURE. Alternative medicine cures NONE and substantially prolongs the life of NONE, that anyone can verify and repeat.

    Do these people not have any clue how arrogant they are? If you bring NOTHING to the table but are allowed to sit there with others who are getting it done with verifiable and repeated results, you have “earned” the right to do two things; keep your mouth shut and listen.

  111. #111 Dr. P
    October 24, 2009

    ben k, Maybe she’s also trying to help people. Is $15 too much to pay to get information that could help you prevent cancer or treat cancer? $15 is the typical amount you would pay to walk into a dr office. At least with Somers’ book you are getting something in return.

    $15 is too much for information that is wrong and misleading, yes.And its information that will lead to incorrect treatment that may cripple and kill someone.If the ignorance of your non sequitor(somehow she’s well meaning and good ,not because you know anything about her, but because she’s crticised here)you’re a lost cause….all evidence presented on her book to this point indicates misinformaion….at best,credulous of her own woo, at worst a cynical grab at one’s cash at the expense of one’s life.

  112. #112 Joseph
    October 24, 2009

    Any of your responses that deal with God not existing cannot be responded to by me because it is already self-evident that God exists because we can see via direct observation that we exist and we can see via direct obervation that the universe exists. To think that the universe or any other creation came into existence with no creator or no designer is simply illogical and ludicrous thinking and a sure sign of a lack of intelligence.

    Brilliant. So theologians and philosophers have been wasting their time for thousands of years trying to come up with all kinds of logical arguments for the existence of God without success. You’ve heard of the arguments, right? All they had to do was ask Mr. Prophet, who would’ve told them that…

    1. I exist.
    2. The universe exists.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    Flawless logic. Impressive really. A Nobel prize would be a mere formality at this point.

  113. #113 Militant Agnostic
    October 24, 2009

    Do these people not have any clue how arrogant they are? If you bring NOTHING to the table but are allowed to sit there with others who are getting it done with verifiable and repeated results, you have “earned” the right to do two things; keep your mouth shut and listen.

    Exactly, but criticism is all they have to offer.

  114. #114 Dianne
    October 24, 2009

    Even a jungle man from the deepest parts of remote islands can logically conclude the existence of a Creator even if they never read the bible.

    Does this statement make anyone else wonder if Prophet just teleported in from the 19th century?

  115. #115 Carolyn
    October 24, 2009

    All I can say is “Thank God there are Medical Doctors.” If we didn’t have them to treat those w/CA there would be a lot of people dead….
    I don’t understand why S.S. doesn’t research medical doctors like she is researching a couple of alternative doctors…. …. I just think she is getting a “little full of herself.” and is starting to think she knows it all……
    Thahk goodness Larry King stopped her in her tracks last nite a couple of times by saying “Wait, we are not doctors.” is did shut her up, tho she surely wasn’t happy about doing it….
    I’ll say something else…. with Suzanne Somers on your side you will get noticed for sure…

  116. #116 Pam
    October 25, 2009

    I completely agree with #101 (Diane). SS’s entire story just fell apart as she went on. The phrasing she says the physicians used was not like anything I’ve ever heard. The two traditional MDs did an eloquent and remarkably respectful job of answering SS’s charges. She may have suffered financial loss with the loss of her home to fire and she recently changed home shopping network affiliation, maybe related to her increasingly bizarre behavior. This poor woman needs a psych eval along with a reprimand for this fabrication.

  117. #117 BKT
    October 25, 2009

    Wow … everyone sounds so angry!! I am a 17 year ocular melanoma “survivor” … was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago and a metastasis of the melanoma to my neck 1 1/2 year ago. I have done surgery but no chemo. I have no health insurance so I have elected to do some alternative stuff. I believe that “western” medicine and “alternative natural” medicine can WORK TOGETHER for the good of the patient. So far I’m feeling well but can’t afford the tests to find out … I do know that the tumor in my neck has shrunk but at this time that’s all I know. I just thank God for every day that He gives me with my family (I especially love time with my wonderful grandchildren); when He chooses to stop breathing life into this body of mine then that will be at His discretion, His choosing. I’m not angry, I’m not bitter … I’m just choosing life as long as I can. So everyone get over your slanderous, hateful, bitter, angry life and give it all to Him & realize that God will sort it all out anyway. There is only one way to the Father and that is though His Son, Jesus Christ

  118. #118 Dianne
    October 25, 2009

    I believe that “western” medicine and “alternative natural” medicine can WORK TOGETHER for the good of the patient.

    I quite agree, actually. For example, the newest treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia is a traditional Chinese medicine. Specifically, arsenic trioxide. It works quite well in second line APL and even better in combination with other medications, including ATRA (which is a variant of vitamin A) and more traditional chemotherapeutic agents.

    However, for “alternative” medicines to work with “western” medicine, it must be tested and demonstrated to be effective in much the same way any “western” medicine would be. Arsenic trioxide was tested and demonstrated to work. Many of them will not work. Nothing unusual there, many new drugs fail to work or fail to do what they were originally designed for*. No big deal, no dishonor, just the need to move on to the next thing.

    The problem comes in when people insist that their regimen is a miracle cure and it’s only because of the Grand Medical Conspiracy that they can’t prove it. Sorry, no.

    *Which is not the same as “is completely useless.” Many drugs don’t do what they were expected to but are still useful. Viagra was supposed to be a blood pressure drug, to give one prominent example.

  119. #120 Robert
    October 25, 2009

    Am I the only person who finds it ironic that Suzanne Somers, who had stage one breast cancer, wherein treatments for same don’t always include chemotherapy, is telling the public not to take a drug, that either she didn’t need or has never taken.

    Rather, she is promoting a holistic approach to cancer and is describing the benefits, powers and success of beating cancer with natural alternatives. Her mantra is eat right, take vitamins, replete yourself with bioidentical hormones and most importantly, stay away from the poison, chemotherapy.

    I gather she is not totally sold on the holistic approach, as she acquiesced to traditional care by undergoing radiation treatments and surgical intervention when, she herself, was treated for cancer. I also gather that her view on medicine has been shaped after she was diagnosed, for if she was eating right and taking her vitamins beforehand, she never would have gotten cancer in the first place. (Yes, I know that is a ridiculous statement, but this is Somers’ logic, wherein you can cure a disease by advancing a certain lifestyle, but can’t prevent it).

    Now Somers is promoting a book on this holistic approach. Her very lay opinion is that conventional care kills and its ideology is based upon economics not medical care. With her bright smile and saddened eyes she is going from talk show to talk show describing her woes of a cancer patient and discussing that tragic, tragic day, she was told she “had full body cancer”. Fortunately for her, she was given a wrong diagnosis, but the six long excruciating days she spent thinking about it caused her extreme trauma.

    Well, cry me a river Ms. Somers, your pathetic story of woes is an affront to every person with stage four cancer and all those who need medical treatments to survive one day, let alone six. How in all consciousness you try and elicit sympathy for the six days you thought you had “full body cancer” and juxtapose that with those suffering with this disease is incredulous and cowardly.

    Further, this so called brave stance on conventional care is misguided and deceitful. Ms. Somers, has never taken the drug and I’ll guarantee it that when she was treated for cancer, chemotherapy was a secondary or supplemental treatment. (Prove me wrong and publish your records).

    Essentially, Somers wants others to forego a medical treatment that she deems worthless, simply because she survived cancer and never took chemotherapy. She believes that conventional care is commercialized to such a point, that profits overrule cures. Ms. Somers should do more research and get her facts right. Conventional treatments not only saves lives, but the advancement in medical care has afforded those with cancer to return to full productive lives.

    Concerning the dedication of doctors treating cancer, as a personal injury lawyer, I work with medical professional on a daily basis. I rank my oncologist, radiologist and surgeons as some of the best medical professionals I’ve ever encountered. My oncologist, board certified in internal medicine and oncology, is not only the smartest person I ever met, but also the most compassionate about his life’s work.

    But, in all fairness to Somers, there are many organizations making profits off the unfortunate plight of others. Physicians from BodyLogicMD charge from $275.00 to $395.00 an hour for patient consultations. Somers cites to BodyLogicMD as one of her expert resources in her latest book. Gee Ms. Somers, have you ever heard the expression, the pot calling the kettle black.

    It is also interesting that a women who had surgery, but not a mastectomy, underwent liposuction procedures. She explained all that away on a Larry King interview many years ago. Truthfully, I didn’t buy it then, and certainly, don’t buy it now. When one is in a life and death struggle, your primary focus is health, not beauty care.

    And its not that Ms. Somers does not deserve sympathy, for she is part of an exclusive club that no one wants to join, but where her survival rate is exponentially higher than other members of the club, she should not be seeking sympathy for what might have been.

    If Somers really wants to eradicate cancer and not just sell books, go on the TV talk show circuit and tell the public what the early signs of colon cancer are, the early signs of breast cancer, the early signs of lung cancer, etc. But that type of truth does not sell books, only controversy does.

    There are so many issues that can be addressed here, mainly other reasons why Somers has no credibility. But the only real issue here is cancer. So if anyone suspects they have cancer or have cancer like symptoms, that person should seek immediate medical care. Learn all you can, inquire about all possible treatments and seek the care of a qualified medical professional.

    Finally, and more of a side note, the reason oncologists had not been critical of Ms. Somers in her denouncing of their profession, is that no respecting MD is going to disparage a cancer survivor regardless of how misguided they are.

    So Ms. Somers, as a stage four cancer survivor, with three surgeries under my belt, eight weeks of radiation treatment and over thirty chemotherapy treatments, I speak for all those who are too polite to say what they really feel, SHUT THE HELL UP.

  120. #121 Paul Murray
    October 26, 2009

    Something that religious folks like to do is to re-tell second-hand stories and freshen them up by putting them in the first person. Harold Hill (of “How to Live like a King’s Kid”) is the exemplar of this. Of course, each time the story is re-told and frshened up, the details become just a tiny, tiny bit more exagerated.

    SS’s story here sounds very, very much in the same genre. Just read the dialogue above: utter storybook.

  121. #122 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 26, 2009

    anon@119
    What a great, well-researched article! Could it be that Patrice Wingert reads Respectful Insolence? Thanks for the link!

  122. #123 Annette
    October 27, 2009

    If the pharma companies are so great then why are they paying out millions of dollars for hiding the horrific side effects of their medications.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=ajS4lMTXVEnY

    Suzanne Somers is not a quack. She is a person using her celebrity to teach women about a healthy alternative to the poison that most doctors prescribe. It’s because of her that I know about Dr. Jonathan Wright and his amazing advice. Check it out…
    http://www.stayyoungandsexy.com

  123. #124 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 27, 2009

    If the pharma companies are so great

    Tu quoque attack, absolutely irrelevant to the issue of Somers’ promotion of medical pseudoscience.

    Suzanne Somers is not a quack. She is a person using her celebrity to teach women about a healthy alternative to the poison that most doctors prescribe.

    Something tells me that you haven’t been paying very good attention. Somers is not telling anyone at all about any “healthy alternatives.” Somers is going out telling women that they should inject cortisol into their hoo-ha. She still hasn’t figured out that even if she wasn’t thinking of it as a steroid, it’s a steroid. She still hasn’t figured out that even if what she thought it would do was restore the vigor she had when Nixon was in the White House, what it actually did was suppress her immune system. And unbelievably enough, she still hasn’t figured that suppressing her immune system to the degree that an advanced fungal infection was able to spread widely in her body was the cause of her ‘whole body cancer’ scare!

    The only possible point on which anyone can say that Somers is not a quack is if you interpret “quack” as someone who knowingly promotes dangerous/useless medical advice. Somers may not be doing it knowingly, but she is telling women out there to do exactly the same things that almost killed her. Maybe she should get a web site at http://www.abuseyourimmunesystemandgiveyourselfafungalinfection.com .

  124. #125 Joe Blough
    October 29, 2009

    John Moore takes Suzanne Somers to task in today’s National Post.

  125. #126 Charlie
    January 31, 2010

    Sir

    First let me say that saying it was an allergic reaction was TOTALLY CORRECT! I was personally with Ms. Somers last november when she told the story of how she took a chinese herb and THAT was the cause of the problems. She said how she was going to have the contents of the herb analyzed as from what she read she thought it would be okay.

    She has taken in Larry King and the entire medical profession. If someone confronted her on this she would have to come clean. There are witnesses.

    There are witnesses

  126. #127 Chris
    January 31, 2010

    You can be or say anything you want on the Internet. There is no reason to believe you. Even if she told her what the thought it was, remember she is taking steroids without knowing that that they are steroids.

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