Respectful Insolence

Another cancer quack dies…of cancer.

As a cancer surgeon and physician, I can’t stand Ty Bollinger. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to absolutely none of my regular readers, given what a massive cancer quack he is. Most recently, he has become known for a series of deeply dishonest videos about cancer, chemotherapy, and alternative treatments for cancer called The Truth About Cancer. If there’s one rule I’ve learned in skepticism, be it about quackery or any other outlandish claims, it’s that any time I see a book, movie, or article called “The Truth About…” chances are at least 95% that the content is not the truth about anything and is instead pure BS. Bollinger’s video series is no exception, as Harriet Hall discussed. I’d also like to point out that I now have a copy of the series and have watched part of the first episode. Let me just tell you, it’s even worse than Harriet tells. One of these days, I’ll start reviewing them, either here or at my not-so-super-secret other blog, but it’s hard. I really should get combat pay for this.

The Truth About Cancer video series, however, is not the main topic that I want to address, regardless of how much I despise Ty Bollinger (and he despises me). Yes, I detest him for how his message that cancer can be cured easily with “natural” treatments has lured people with treatable, potentially curable cancers away from conventional treatment to embrace quackery. I’m referring to people like Cassandra Callender, a teen with a treatable lymphoma and Theresa DiNallo, a woman with breast cancer; and Carissa Gleeson, a young woman with a rare sarcoma. What all these people share in common I discovered reading news stories about them, and that something is having been inspired to embrace quackery by reading one of Bollinger’s books or watching The Truth About Cancer. I’ve seen this come up more times than I can recall over the last few years reading alternative medicine cancer cure testimonials. Who knows how many cancer patients who might have been saved died because they trusted Bollinger’s selling of quackery?

What brought Bollinger back to my attention was, unfortunately, a death. Fortunately, it wasn’t the death of Callender, Gleason, or DiNallo, but it was a death nonetheless. Actually, it was the death of one of Bollinger’s friends and supporters, someone who also promoted cancer quackery and arguably gave Bollinger his start by writing a positive review of Ty Bollinger’s first book. This was a man named Bill Henderson, whom Bollinger referred to as a cancer coach, patriot, and bestselling author:

It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that I write this article. Our good friend and health warrior Bill Henderson passed away on Monday, July 4, 2016, at the age of 84. Perhaps the date of death – July 4th – is significant, since Bill was a patriot and a veteran. He retired from the US Air Force in 1977 as a Colonel.

Rewind 22 years to November of 1994. After a 4 year battle with ovarian cancer and multiple rounds of chemotherapy, Bill lost his wife, Marjorie. After watching that, it was hard for Bill to believe that millions of people each year had to endure that same torture. He set out on a mission to let people know that they had options in their cancer treatment, writing numerous books and publishing a monthly newsletter.

Fast forward to 2006. When nobody had ever heard of “Ty Bollinger” or “The Truth About Cancer,” Bill Henderson supported me. When I published my first book, “Cancer-Step Outside the Box” in August 2006, Bill wrote a stellar review of the book and promoted it to his faithful email followers. He didn’t have to. But he did. He believed in me and he believed in our mission and supported this movement with his entire being.

So what did Henderson die of? Why, cancer, of course. It is always a bit…delicate to write about the death of a person like Henderson without coming across inappropriately or as speaking ill of the dead too soon after their death, particularly given that he only died 11 days ago. The reason I do it is because of how his good friend Ty Bollinger discusses his death and what he attributes it to. I will return to that shortly, but first I wanted to point out the sort of cancer quackery that Henderson promoted. As good a place to start as any is with this video in which Henderson was interviewed by Chris Wark of “Chris Beat Cancer” fame. We’ve met Wark before. He’s a young man who was unfortunate enough to develop colon cancer at a far younger age than usual (26). He underwent surgery for his cancer but refused chemotherapy in favor of quackery. As is the case with so many cancer cure testimonials, Wark confused adjuvant chemotherapy (which is given after curative surgery to decrease the risk of cancer recurrence) with the primary treatment of cancer. In reality, the surgery cured him; all Wark did by refusing chemotherapy was to increase his risk of recurrence. Fortunately for him, it was a gamble he won. Unfortunately for cancer patients, his winning that gamble has led him to promote all manner of cancer quackery since then under the brand name Chris Beat Cancer, to which I like to retort: Yes he did but it wasn’t the quackery that cured him.

Here’s Part 1 of the video:

Part 2:

While I do sympathize with Mr. Henderson’s loss, unfortunately he was a “pioneer” in spreading cancer misinformation and quackery on the Internet and one of the earliest graduates of “Google University.” (Actually, this is particularly appropriate because his wife died in 1994, and he states in this video that he began to write his book four years later. Google was formed in 1998.) In any case, there isn’t anything particularly original or unique in this video. He goes on about the “medical model” of cancer (what other model would you have?) and goes on about how doctors are “trained, not educated” (but Henderson was “educated”?), plus many others. Particularly painful was, after how Mr. Henderson went on about how some chemotherapy was derived from mustard gas, Wark piped in about how mustard gas is illegal to use in warfare. That was worth a facepalm. Not suprisingly, Henderson goes on and on about “big pharma” and how oncologists can’t let go of the “medical model” because of money from big pharma. Indeed, he claims that since the Flexner Report pharmaceutical companies have been funding most of medical schools, which is utter BS.

You have to love the title of the blurb on Henderson’s website Beating Cancer Gently, “Cancer Is Easy To Overcome, I’ll Show You How.” There, Henderson claims to have helped “thousands of people,” even with terminal cancer, to become “cancer-free.” One wonders where all these “thousands of patients” are. Be that as it may, Henderson lays down the usual cancer quack patter about how you don’t die of cancer but of the chemotherapy and other treatments, how doctors are conspiring to hide these “natural cures” from you, and blaming “toxins” and “acidity”:

The regimen I recommend for ALL cancer patients comes at the cancer from seven different “directions.” Seven different theories about how to deal with cancer cells. All of these seven forms of treatment are gentle (no dangerous, too-rapid “die off”), non-toxic and they all work together. They are, in fact, synergistic. They help each other.

They address the five characteristics of every cancer. These five conditions must be corrected before anyone can get over cancer: 1) A weak immune system; 2) A lack of oxygen uptake by the cells; 3) Excessive toxins; 4) Acidity; and 5) Specific deficiencies. Conventional cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and surgery) makes all of these conditions worse. In fact, it is responsible for almost all the deaths attributed to “cancer.” That’s right. The “treatment” causes the deaths — not the cancer.

Why? The conventional cancer treatments are approaching the cancer tumor (or its existence in your blood, lymph system or bone marrow) as if it were the “enemy.” Kill the cancer cells at all costs! Those costs may be your heart, your liver, your kidneys — or your life.

Why do they do these things? There are literally 400 other effective ways to treat cancer. All of them are non-toxic and harmless to your other organs. Why doesn’t your cancer doctor tell you about these options?

Because they’re pre-scientific and/or pseudoscientific nonsense that doesn’t work? Seriously, though, oncologists would love it if there were a “nontoxic” all-purpose cure for cancer. It would make their lives so much easier, and, more importantly, the lives of their patients.

In any case, Henderson’s particular cancer quackery posited that cancer is pretty much entirely an immune disease, which occurs because cancer cells reach a point where the immune system can’t handle it. So far, he might have been overstating the point massively (for instance, he claims that it’s absolutely impossible for a person with a healthy immune system to get cancer), but, yes, modern oncology acknowledges that the immune system is important in cancer. That’s why there are cancer vaccines. It’s why immune checkpoint inhibitors are the hottest new class of cancer drugs right now. Conventional medicine does try to use the immune system against cancer. The problem comes in what Henderson recommends to turn the immune system against cancer, which has no basis in science.

So what did Henderson try? One example is this, the Bill Henderson Protocol A Stage III Cancer Treatment:

This treatment is rated a “Stage III” alternative cancer treatment and is not recommended for advanced cancer patients. Advanced cancer patients should use the Cellect-Budwig protocol or Cesium Chloride protocol or Photon Protocol. They should use the Dirt Cheap Protocol if they cannot afford one of the 3 treatments just mentioned. See the left side-bar.

Whether you buy Bill Henderson’s book or not, you should do the consultation with Bill over the telephone. It is one of the most “gentle” treatments.

With most alternative cancer treatments the “cancer diet” (meaning the things a cancer patient can eat and should not eat) is designed to avoid “feeding” the cancer cells. Not with this protocol. With this protocol the “cancer diet” is critical and is an active part of the treatment.

While you might think that “cheating” on your cancer diet by 10% would only affect the effectiveness of your treatment by 10%, such is not the case with this protocol. The cancer patient must be fanatical about sticking to the diet, as it is an integral part of the treatment.

The purpose of the diet is to create a highly alkaline inner terrain in which microbes cannot thrive. Because microbes are an integral part of cancer, the cancer diet is critical.

Wow. There’s a heck of a lot of quackery there to unpack. The Budwig diet, for instance, involves a lot of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese, as well as vegetables, fruits and juices. There is no evidence that it has any detectable therapeutic effect on an existing cancer in a human being. that whole bit about creating an “alkaline inner environment”? It’s just repackaged “blood akalinization” woo of the variety peddled by cancer quack Robert O. Young, who is now where he belongs, in prison. Similarly, the cesium chloride protocol and photon protocol have no evidence to support them.

Notice one thing though. Did one statement stand out? It did for me. Specifically, I couldn’t help but notice the statement about how the cancer patient must be “fanatical” about sticking to the diet. It’s of a piece with my characterization of a lot of alternative medicine as more religion than anything else, but, more importantly, how whenever a cancer patient who uses alternative medicine dies, it’s not that the therapy didn’t work but rather that the patient didn’t follow it closely enough.

So, one wonders: Did Mr. Henderson follow his own therapy closely enough?

Here’s what I mean:

Little did Bill know that the next month he would be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) which is a form of cancer that starts in the lymphocytes. Over the past half year, Bill had been successfully utilizing multiple natural treatment protocols, with visible results and lab report improvement, steadily gaining momentum against the malignancy.

Or so he claimed. Yet he died less six months of diagnosis. He was diagnosed a month after a gala in December 2015, and died on July 4. That’s not a particularly long time between diagnosis and death. It’s also not unexpected in an 84 year old man. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, after all, tends to be nastier than Hodgkins lymphoma, and patients who are elderly tend not to do as well as children or young adults. Those are just facts. Another fact that we know is that Bill Henderson was being treated in Cancun, Mexico to be treated for “leukemia and lymphoma.”

Ty Bollinger, however, will have none of it. It’s not possible to him that cancer could have killed his friend and early supporter:

However, Bill’s form of NHL required frequent blood transfusions, especially platelets. The problem was that Bill also had thrombophlebitis, which resulted in blood clots in his legs. According to the physician who was treating Bill, it was a combination of heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism in the wake of a blood transfusion which took his life. It was not due to cancer.

Um, no.

Bill Henderson died of cancer. If he didn’t have cancer, he wouldn’t have needed a blood transfusion, and wouldn’t have had the heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. Assuming Bollinger’s account, as sketchy as it is, is accurate (something one can never assume for sure), Henderson’s heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism were complications of his cancer. When cancer kills, it is usually not the cancer itself that kills, but rather complications caused by the growth of the cancer. This is particularly true for hematologic malignancies, which can frequently suppress normal bone marrow function and lead to anemia, low white blood cell counts, and—yes—low platelet counts, which Henderson suffered from, which is why he needed transfusions. Since Henderson wasn’t using chemotherapy and was at a “natural medicine” clinic in Cancun when he died, Bollinger can’t blame this on the conventional treatment Henderson was receiving. It was almost certainly due to the progression of the cancer and its failure to respond to that “natural” therapy.

Of course, Henderson’s friends and fellow believers in alternative cancer cures can never admit that it was the cancer that killed Henderson, even though the mortality of non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) in an 84 year old is high and, even with maximal conventional care, the odds of a man Henderson’s age beating NHL are not favorable. Henderson lived claiming that there are easy natural cures for cancer that don’t involve “cutting, burning, and poisoning.” he even pursued those natural cures himself when he developed cancer. The results were that he died a mere six months after his diagnosis.

Unfortunately, his widow will be “stepping into his shoes” to continue his work of selling false hope to cancer patients. Ty Bollinger thinks this is a good thing. I do not.