What I did next: which overseas cancer clinic?

Update 5 February, 2015:  please note that I have been receiving reports from patients that Hallwang Clinic’s services are not meeting expectations and Grace Gawler no longer runs Medi-Tours to Hallwang.  Therefore, before you go to Hallwang, please get it in writing that the oncologist and Prof Vogl will be there throughout your stay.

 

I am not if stubborn (or naive).  I knew that the tumour had to come out, yet I was terrified of surgery.  And I was annoyed with myself for having allowed the tumour to progress and grow.  I wanted a better surgical outcome.

The complementary therapy clinics in the UK had not, so far, been able to offer me a satisfactory solution – I did not want to waste the rest of my life living with a tumour.

So I decided to look into the treatment of cancer in overseas clinics to see if they could offer me a better surgical outcome – to shrink the tumour and the lymph nodes and to get clear margins.  Also, I wanted if possible, to save the nipple.

The fact is clinics in Switzerland, Germany and Mexico are not as bound by legislation as in the UK on what they can prescribe and administer.  They can offer more treatments than UK clinics.

I wrote to 5 overseas clinics in Europe: the Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle in Switzerland, Dr Herzog’s Fachklinic in Germany, Arcadia Praxis in Germany, Clinic Dr M Kalden in Germany, and Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic in Germany.

I chose not to look at clinics in Mexico because they seemed to be much of a muchness, offering IV C, hyperthermia and B17.   There was also the issue of distance – I did not want to be jet-lagged.  Someone recommended Dr Ba Hoang’s clinic in Vietnam – she had come back from 6 weeks of treatment there and it had been incredibly cheap (the room and board fees were a mere US$60 per day!  But the food was basic and bland, river fish, rice and veg).  But again, I decided that Vietnam wasn’t a good option and I did not want to travel so far, especially because I would be travelling alone.

Why did I choose this shortlist of European clinics?  I chose the Paracelsus because I’d heard of its international reputation in holistic treatments.  Arcadia Praxis because I saw a video on Marcus Freudenmann’s Cancer is Curable Now website, and it looked very positive.  Dr Herzog’s clinic also had a very good reputation for using whole-body hyperthermia and lower doses of systemic chemotherapy.  Dr Kalden’s clinic and Hallwang were based on recommendations from a complementary treatment doctor who suggested that rather than just a holistic clinic which treated all sorts of diseases, I should be looking at a clinic that specialised in oncology.

I sent a chronological summary of my medical history and pdfs of the relevant pathology reports. Responses from all the clinics were amazingly quick.

Paracelsus logo

Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle (Switzerland)

The Paracelsus was the best in terms of follow-up. They scheduled two phone consultations with one of their doctors, Dr Stefan Rupp, followed by a cost estimate for 3 weeks’ worth of treatment.  I was very impressed with how much time he devoted to me, and his professionalism, and they did not ask for payment of the phone consultations [see Postscript 15 August].  They also sent me a timetable of when treatments could be started.  The Paracelsus have a fantastic website and also a wonderful setting.

[Postscript 15 August – I’ve just received an invoice from the Paracelsus Klinik for the telephone conversations and e-mails conducted by Dr Rupp.  They have billed me for Swiss Francs 236.25!!!  That’s GBP£163.  I’m not sure how I’ll pay it. I’m a bit miffed – I wasn’t warned I was going to be charged for the calls – there’s no indication on their website.  So – you have been warned – don’t call the Paracelsus or let them call you without being prepared for a huge consultation bill]

Dr Herzog

photo credit: Dr Herzog Fachklinic

Dr Herzog’s clinic was also very quick to reply with a treatment protocol and cost estimate and a recommendation I start treatment as soon as possible.  The room and day rate was cheaper than Hallwang’s, at Euro 420, and included the cost of the infusions and transfers to the airport.  I knew two people who had gone to Dr Herzog, and they told me they averaged about Euro 9,000 for a 3-week stay.

The Dr Herzog protocol was heavy on systemic chemotherapy and hyperthermia, but then that’s what Dr Herzog is famous for.  I wasn’t comfortable with doing systemic chemotherapy at that stage – if I wanted to do that, I might as well do it in the UK, for free.

Later, I heard on the grapevine that even though Dr Herzog’s clinic had a good reputation and Dr Herzog himself was a fantastic and caring doctor, it was rumoured that in the past year, a spate of advertising meant that they were over-subscribed and were having teething problems, staff who did have satisfactory levels of English, changes to how they billed for food.  Hopefully they’ve sorted it out by now.

Dr Kalden’s clinic also responded quickly, but then interest petered out, I’m not sure why.  He suggested I get a thermogram done, and I pointed out that the thermograms in the UK were not as sophisticated or accurate as the ones in Germany.  After I requested more information and even offered to go to his clinic for testing, I never got a reply. So, nul point, I’m afraid.

ArcadiaLogoArcadia Praxis started out looking promising.  They sent me an encouraging e-mail and a quick phone call and told me about how a woman who’d had a fungating breast tumour was cured using a medicinal mushroom, Amanita phalloides (the death cap mushroom), and asked what I wanted to achieve.  So I told them:  shrinkage of the tumour to nothing if possible.  The follow-up phone call I got was a recommendation to have the tumour surgically removed and then return to them for treatment.  Well, my question was:  how would I know that their treatment was working if they couldn’t even dare to shrink the tumour?  Arcadia also charged for the very short phone call consultation – Euro55 – I wasn’t impressed by what I perceived as back-pedalling, and the doctor didn’t have very good English.

Arcadia charged about Euros 3000 for a week, excluding accommodation which would be at a room in the clinic at Euro 55 or local hotel.

Hallwang1

Hallwang private oncology clinic in the Black Forest, Germany

Hallwang came highly-recommended.  They were also quick to respond with a very comprehensive quote.  But their cost estimate was about 50-75% more than the other four clinics – their in-house, stay-in day rate was Euro 580.  I almost fainted as I binned the quote.

But what set Hallwang apart was that they offered treatments the other clinics did not have – antibody treatments, and a lot of very precise testing for causes and effects of their treatments.

What made me hesitate was that Hallwang was previously known as the Dr Ursula Jacobs clinic, and a google search threw up some not very positive PR when Farah Fawcett went there for treatment and subsequently died of her cancer.

I was in a quandry.  I wanted some sort of guarantee that the treatments would have an effect.  I needed quick results.  I was on the verge of going to the Paracelsus, but somehow, the treatments offered there were treatments I’d already had, like holistic dentistry and colonics.  It would be more like a detox experience – I might as well go to a spa in Thailand.  And if the pure complementary approach hadn’t worked so far, how successful would the treatments be at the Paracelsus?

Furthermore, a lot of the holistic clinics in Germany were much of a muchness – they all offered hyperthermia, mistletoe, B17, IV C.  How did they know whether these treatments worked or not?

If I was going to spend something like Euro25,000, I needed to know what the clinics were like, from someone who had been to those clinics, who could give me an overall picture of what the treatments were like.

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