After one year of first-line chemoradiation, we'd carefully examined the medical literature and concluded two things:

  1. The objective data clearly showed my cancer was going to return.
  2. When it returned, chemo would be be ineffective. Nor were there targeted therapies for my cancer. I was going to die.

We weren't content to sit around and wait for the cancer to kill me. Having studied the evidence behind Coley's Toxins for almost two years, we decided to take action and go get it. A Canadian company (MBVax) was trying to resurrect it and was shipping it to clinics worldwide.

We had to leave the country to get Coley's Toxins due to strict FDA laws—an irony, considering it was used for many decades by U.S. physicians. Our decision was supported by a leading cancer immunologist, the late Dr. Lloyd Old, formerly Vice President and Associate Director for Scientific Development at MSKCC.

Dr. Old himself had tested MBVax's version of the toxins and found it one of the most potent formulations he'd encountered. He suspected that Coley's Toxins worked primarily by reducing Regulatory T cells.

Despite Dr. Old's support and unassailable credentials, my medical oncologist at Stanford dropped me when she found out I'd gone to Mexico for "unapproved" and "potentially dangerous" therapies. 

She didn't attempt to understand the scientific basis even though we tried to explain it. Nor was she aware that two years earlier, her own colleagues at the Stanford Cancer Center had already published a paper positing the immunological rationale behind Coley's Toxins.[i]

We relay this story to demonstrate the challenges that patients may encounter when seeking non-standard treatment—even when there are no conventional treatments left!


[i] Tsung, Kangla, and Jeffrey A. Norton. "Lessons from Coley's toxin." Surgical oncology 15.1 (2006): 25-28.