In 1891, Mrs. R. Gruver, a 41-year-old woman in the small town of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, began to experience pain in her lower abdomen. Over the next two years, her symptoms—vomiting, headaches, and so forth—gradually worsened, and by May 1893, she checked in to the New York Hospital.
The left side of her abdomen hurt when pressed. Her cervix was “very hard,”[i] and the external orifice of her uterus was “surrounded by a ring of hard nodules.”[ii] She was diagnosed with cancer and surgery was scheduled. Dr. William Bull (Dr. William Coley's mentor) operated on her, removing a mass the size of a small avocado, along with her cervix. Surprisingly, pathology showed the growth to be “normal cervical tissue,”[iii] and she was discharged.
All was well for three years. But then her symptoms recurred, with occasional bloody discharge. For another three years, she endured worsening symptoms of nausea, retching, and even vomiting feces.
This time, Mrs. Gruver was seen at a hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a little closer to her hometown. Dr. Charles Thompson performed exploratory surgery, Making a large incision in her abdomen, he discovered suspicious looking masses. The mass in the lower right abdomen was deemed inoperable. Pathology revealed that she had carcinoma of the cervix.
In July 1899, Mrs. Gruver again checked in to New York Hospital. A doctor examined her and found two masses, attached to her intestines, on “each side of her abdomen.”[iv] These twin tumors had been rapidly growing for six months. “The region of the cervix was hard and eroded, her uterus enlarged and firmly fixed.”[v] Mrs. Gruver’s cervical carcinoma had metastasized to her intestines.
With surgery out of the question, chemotherapy not yet invented and radiation therapy barely in its infancy, Mrs. Gruver was sent home. She was told she had less than 18 months to live.
At that point, she was informed about Dr. Coley’s work. She consulted Dr. Coley, who confirmed the diagnosis. Despite the hopeless situation, Dr. Coley was willing to let her try his toxins. One of Mrs. Gruver’s three children was a doctor himself. With instructions from Dr. Coley, the young Dr. Charles Gruver began injecting Mrs. Gruver with the toxins.
The injections began in August 1899. For six months, twice-weekly, Dr. Gruver injected his mother's abdomen. His determination was soon to be rewarded.
Before the young Charles began the injections in August, Mrs. Gruver's tumors had been growing quickly. Soon after, the tumors stopped growing, then gradually shrunk. By December, Dr. Gruver could barely feel them when he pressed on her abdomen.
Along with the tumor shrinkage, Mrs. Gruver’s general condition began to improve. The injections necessitated that she stay in bed for many hours. But in between, she resumed her normal activities and was well enough to perform all of her own housework.
To ensure thorough extermination of the cancer, Dr. Gruver continued the injections once a week for another full year, rested, then resumed injections, making the total duration of treatment about 3 years.
Mrs. Gruver went on to live for another three decades, enjoying “unusually good health,”[vi] never to experience further recurrence of cancer.
Thirty years later (in January 1929), while visiting her son in Asheville, North Carolina, she caught the flu, came down with pneumonia, and died. Had she lived a little while longer, she would have been 80 years old.
The Coley’s Toxins injections had effectively cured her of terminal metastatic cervical carcinoma—a feat still unattainable with modern conventional therapy.