|By Dylan Morrill, Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
DOES IT WORK?
Supporters claim Burzynski has found a cure for cancer but the medical establishment has been fighting to squelch it for more than three decades to protect conventional cancer treatment profits. They argue that because antineoplaston therapy patients don't purchase traditional medicines, there is little money to be made by anyone other than Burzynski.
"It's all big pharma and that's all there is to it," said LaFountain. "It's all money."
LaFountain has heard multiple accounts of children with his granddaughter's rare DIPG cancer who have survived longer than their prognosis, thanks to Burzynski's therapy
He says he heard of a little boy named Noah, who survived for 40 months with DIPG under Burzynski's care.
He tells about
And he cites the case of a nine-month-old infant in
But none of these examples of the treatment's effectiveness have been subjected to scientific or clinical verification.
Skeptics say Burzynki's readily available success stories are the result of other variables, such as incorrect initial diagnoses, delayed chemotherapy responses, and naturally occurring shrinkage of tumors following treatment-induced swelling, according to a USA TODAY article published earlier this year.
Still, to people seeking help for a terminally ill loved one, these success stories serve as an undeniably impressive counterweight to the red flag that is Burzynski's battles with the
At the same time that LaFountain and the Lowe family were researching these Burzynski success stories, oncologists were telling them that accepted treatments had little chance of curing McKenzie's cancer.
The family began to see antineoplaston therapy treatments as a ray of hope and began petitioning the
They created a Change.org petition, which attracted nearly 70,000 signatures. A
The family's desperate quest to lobby the
Finally in March of this year, after about four months of lobbying by McKenzie's family and supporters, the
"It doesn't seem like rocket science," Bennett said. "It's a 12-year-old girl. She's beautiful. She's cute. It struck me as a no-brainier. 'Please how can I help?' "
But there was something Bennett didn't know.
Bennett's decision was based, in part, on a newspaper article that said Burzynski had agreed to donate the medicine required for McKenzie's treatment. But what Bennett didn't know is that Burzynki planned to charge the family for the clinical costs associated with the therapy.
LaFountain said the first month's bill is expected to be
And health insurance won't cover a dime of it.
The Lowe family has started a GoFundMe.org (GoFundMe.com/9a4geo) account, which raised over
The family is relying completely on these fundraisers to pay for McKenzie's therapy.
Such fundraising apparently is common practice for Burzynski patients.
In 2012, Brylin Sanders' family raised tens of thousands of dollars for treatment.
Bennett said he will not withdraw his sponsorship of McKenzie, despite the cost of treatment. But he's extremely upset over what he calls a very disturbing phone call that he received on
Bennett says a representative of the
Instead, said Bennett, "I'm supposed to be the bag man for all of this. They want me to collect the 30 grand for the family and send it to Burzynski."
But he continues to support the initiative to get McKenzie treatment because he believes there is a possibility that Burzynski's therapy works.
"If I didn't think there was some evidence that it worked, I would not get involved in this," said Bennett. "There is evidence of saves in the past, and we are hoping to get another one. If we do, home run!"
LaFountain agrees. "It is expensive," he said, "but you just can't place a price on a child's life."
The Burzynski clinic did not respond to multiple requests for a detailed breakdown of the costs of McKenzie's treatment.
(c)2014 Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)
Visit the Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.) at www.fosters.com
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