It was while Mark Roby was lying in a Michigan chemo facility and receiving 10 million units of Interferon that his doctor leaned in to whisper that the life-saving treatment coursing through his veins wasn’t going to work. And neither would the alternatives Avastin, thalidomide or any clinical drug trials, the oncologist opined.
“There aren’t any answers for you. Why can’t you accept the inevitable? You’ll be gone in the next three to four months.”
Roby, now 60, holds to that moment as betrayal of a caregiver entrusted for hope and a cure. That seminal turning point taught him that focused, positive and determined people can survive cancer; 12 years later, it is also the crux of the Birmingham resident’s mission to save the lives of others.
To that end, the career physician’s assistant wrote his comprehensive how-to, “Lifelines for Cancer Survival.” It guides cancer patients to shore up a support network, determine potential treatment and medication, and embellish health through overall life improvements. It maps creating a successful personalized molecular profile, anticancer nutrition, integrative medicines and chemosensitivity assays.
Not the average self-help tome, “Lifelines” is highly readable and cohesive in its own molecular structure. It features Key Points summations for each chapter, charts with dietary data, and lists of online support groups and reference materials. It is quite possibly the most important tool any patient can own, particularly for sufferers of rare or aggressive cancers. It most assuredly empowers each reader and will save lives.
Roby outlines his own battle with rare, aggressive liver cancer, while directing readers to see cancer as a surmountable life challenge. The book’s narrative was assisted by other patients, oncologists and cancer experts, all of whom refined his advice through straight-forward, helpful input. Much is cutting-edge information for a disease that will see an estimated 1,658,370 new cases diagnosed this year and kill 589,430 people in the U.S. alone. That’s 1,600 dead adults and children daily, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures for 2014.
“For seven years, people provided me their stories, and prestigious medical institutions shared key, how-to details,” Roby said. “The data came from Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai and Columbia Presbyterian hospitals in New York, Northwestern in Chicago, the Henry Ford and Beaumont Systems in Detroit, the American Cancer Society, and the international network of Attitudinal Healing’s 100 centers, among others.”
Each group now benefits from a portion of the book’s proceeds, says Roby, whose forward is written by renowned Stanford University physician Gerald Jampolsky MD, author of “Love Is Letting Go of Fear” and “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.” Roby emphasizes need for integrative medicine, personalized treatment, and the importance of discarded tumors with their genetic clues. Such individual tools – retained by pathologists who initially diagnosed them – can continue to provide answers for the patient and related family. Most patients don’t know that.
That’s because tumor feedback reveals genetic markers and other data; answers for devising a safer, more thorough treatment program with fewer potential side effects; and better remission results. When cancer is extracted from tumors and injected into immune-compromised lab animals, the procedure (called TumorGrafts) provides answers and progress in the patient’s cure overall. Various types of chemo – or other treatments – can then be tried on the animals and studied, with a definitive plan devised in what Roby calls a Triad of Survival. As a triple-pronged plan, The Triad conserves valuable time if one method fails to cure; in that instance, a second or third treatment can be plugged into action immediately.
Roby quotes Dr. Stan Kaye, of England’s the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, sharing the latter’s insights into the importance of personalized attention. “In the next few years, there’s going to be an increasing understanding that you don’t treat all people with a particular type of cancer the same way, and that knowledge is being turned into new treatments, often given as tablets that make people’s tumors shrink.”
Such knowledge is conveyed in the book, along with feedback from the Centre for Molecular Biology and Cancer Research’s UK initiative also in England, emphasizing “stratified medicine.” Samples are taken of patients’ tissue through new molecular techniques, zeroing in on more exact diagnoses/treatments, eliminating wasting valuable time. That’s because, says Roby, “Your cancer is as unique as your fingerprint. The secret to survival lies in learning as much as you can about your tumor; it can mean the difference between life and death.”
Numerous studies support that patients should weigh the following in establishing an individual plan: Nutritional deficits, cachexia (bodily weakness/“wasting” syndrome), immune deficiency, fatigue and any vitamin deficiencies as well as inflammation and angiogenesis (the blood-vessel growth within tumors). With such tools, we recognize biomarkers, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 – so genetically devastating from generation to generation and wreaking havoc on entire families. Many stricken patients take preventive measures by removing body parts long before the disease even develops.
Roby, who calls cancer a watershed moment, advocates for the following “wake-up” opportunities:
- the ability for patients/clinicians to make more informed medical decisions
- the higher probability of desired outcomes from better-targeted therapies
- the reduced probability of negative side effects
- focus on disease prevention and prediction instead of reaction
- earlier disease intervention
- ultimately, reduced healthcare costs
“Many don’t know we have a choice when we are in the fire,” he said. “We also don’t realize how powerful are our thoughts, images and words, and the impact they have on our health and well-bring.”
Roby, who also co-founded the metro-Detroit location of Gerald Jampolsky’s Attitudinal Healing Health Center, defines what so many struggling cancer patients need: positive influences.
The book and accompanying philosophy are incentive to be personally followed closely. And as a newly-diagnosed cancer patient, I can’t think of a more fortuitous time to do so; I have a lot depending on it.
For more information on “Lifelines for Cancer Survival,” go to www.lifelinestocancersurvival.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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