Burzynski's Ghosts

By Keir Liddle

Edwin (Ed) Allen Gochenour was a Georgia state Senator who testified in Burzynskis defence claiming his treatment worked. 21 months later he was dead. He is just one of Burzynski’s ghosts, there are many others. The case of Ryan Werthwein is also cited as one of the clinics success stories but tragically also appears to have died after seeking treatment at the clinic. Skeptical Humanities has found several more cases like the two cited here where patients have undergone treatment believing it to be their last hope but ultimately losing their personal battles. Leaving behind family and friends at best wondering if they could or should have done more and at worst struggling with the debts that undertaking the clinics expensive treatments have incurred.

There appears to be little in the way of support for these patients despite the existence of the Burzynski patient group which appears to exist to promote Burzynski more than it does to support and help those suffering with cancer.

The Patients Group stated mission is to:

“raise public awareness of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s breakthrough treatment for cancer using Antineoplastons and gene-targeted therapy.  We also provide useful information and emotional support to cancer patients and their families. Our website is a place where Dr Burzynski’s patients can share their personal stories with one another and the world.”

The Burzynski Patient Group consists of

“current and former patients of the Burzynski Clinic, their families, friends, and supporters. We are a group that is filled with individuals who have the determination to fight and survive.  We are bonded by our gratitude, respect, and admiration for Dr. Burzynski, The Burzynski Clinic and its staff.”

There are 45 patients with brainstem cancers on the Burzynski patient group website each giving testimony to demonstrate the effectiveness of Burzynski treatment. There is only one problem with this. Some of those sharing personal stories are dead.

The website lists five cases who have died after receiving treatment. Kyla Freitag, Lester Mouscher, Tracy Hall, Marisa Hislop and Crystin Schiff.

Kyla Freitag received treatment in 1996-97 at the clinic and initially seemed to do well. But the cancer returned and she died in November of 1999. Lester Mouscher died after undergoing antineoplasteon therapy against the advisement of his doctors. According to the Burzynski Patient Group website the families of both the deceased credit the clinics treatment with extending their life if not saving them. Tracy Hall is reported to have died due to complications arising from the radiation therapy he received in 1995. Marisa Hislop died whilst undergoing antineoplasteon therapy in 2000 from complications related to steroid use. Her family believe that the treatment was working but that she was simply not strong enough to survive long enough for them to fully beat her cancer.

Crystin Schiff underwent treatment as a child at the Burzynski clinic in 1993-1994 and her parents were informed that at the conclusion of her treatment she had gone into complete recovery. Her parents, presented with the “evidence” of ever improving MRI scans, believed her cancer was gone and stopped treatment on December 1st 1994 by December 27th 1994 her cancer had returned. The doctors advised the Schiffs that it was not Burzynski’s therapy that had saved her but rather the delayed effects of conventional therapies. The Schiffs ignored the doctors and took Crystin back to Burzynski and the clinic reported a 20% reduction in her tumour in just three weeks though despite this Crystin tragically died on the 29th July 1995. Her parents then sued her doctor for not making it known to them that antineoplasteon therapy was available, they lost the case.

A common theme running through these stories is that Burzynski did not fail to treat these cancers but that he simply ran out of time. This is a sentiment that you will find repeated time and again on the blogs and sites of patients undergoing treatment at the Burzynski clinic. The treatment is always working it is never Burzynski or his clinic that have failed rather it is conventional medicine denying the patients the treatment until it is too late that is seen as the problem. Despite an absence of published and peer reviewed evidence that supports the efficacy of Burzynskis methods.

As well as the five the group believes conventional medicine stopped Burzynski saving there are at least four testimonials supporting Burzynski on the site from patients that have since died. Eric Zielinski who appears to have died in 2003, Jane Kammet in 2008, Joshua Thompson in 2003 and Timothy Lally who died in 2005 requesting people donate to the Burzynski patient group. There is no mention of their deaths on the site, no memorial to them to be found and their stories simply tail off.

More worryingly many other members of the group appear to have no digital footprint on the internet. No blogs. No social media. No newspaper reports or notices reporting their success in beating cancer. Nothing appears forthcoming. Though I and others continue to search most often it results in a trail leading back to the Burzynski Patient Group or Marc Stephens. There seems to be no way, independent of the Burzynski patient group or it’s promotional materials, of determining whether these individuals have survived or perished.

They are in effect ghosts on the internet.

Reading the Burzynski patient group testimonials and then looking deeper into the information provided is a powerful lesson in the value of evidence over anecdote as the case of Braiden Norton highlights. It is presented as the story of another miraculous cure but in reality it appears to be anything but. Firstly, the child has a low grade Pylocyic Astrocytoma, a benign tumour that was resected as far as possible but couldn’t be removed completely due to brain stem involvement. So far, so conventional. Slow growing tumour, talk of possible chemo regimes. But then the family turned to “alternative” treatments and found themselves at the Burzynski clinic. Braiden has been on Burzynski’s treatment for 4 years and he still has a brain tumour. Far from a miracle cure it seems more likely that he has experienced nothing more than the natural progression of some of these tumours because after incomplete resection, the 10-year survival rate is as high as 45%. We wish Braiden every success against his cancer but the evidence that Burzynski has helped in any way is simply not convincing.

But as we know anecdote and personal experience are far more powerfully convincing than evidence and data and people are still swayed by organisations like the Burzynski Patient Group and “documentaries” like Burzynski: The Movie.

Hope is a powerful opiate even when it proves to be false.

However I would hope those considering undergoing Burzynski’s “natural” and “non-toxic” therapy read the case here. Where a three year old girl died from kidney failure whilst on antineoplasteon treatment (skeptics have raised fears previously that this was a potential side effect of ANP) for brain cancer. Her parents unprepared for her death because they believed she was getting better.

She may well be the first of Burzynskis ghosts where his treatment has not proven neutral and has in fact done more harm than good.

If Burzynski truly believes that his treatment works he is morally bound to research it properly and to release his results to the scrutiny of scientists, oncologists and medical professionals. Burzynski has thus far fought this battle in the court room as opposed to the lab and by doing so has either deprived thousands of cancer patients either a cure or of precious time spent with their families and loved ones at the end of their days.

The skeptics message may not be a comforting one but it is an important one. False hope is worthless.

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0 Responses to Burzynski's Ghosts

  1. Lupay says:

    Something really has to be done about this guy, really glad you’ve posted this, I think the world really needs to see it. Kudos.

  2. There is a court hearing next month (April 12th) I believe that could be crucial.

    Will keep everyone posted. Will have a post up soon on the parody of science that is research into ANP.

  3. I suspect, but cannot prove of course, that a proportion of the untraceable names on the patient list are true ghosts – people who do not exist at all. Burzynski wouldn’t be the first quack to have a PR person write his testimonials for him.

  4. Mark M says:

    Didn’t Burz claim to have treated 8000 people in his bogus, never-ending drug trials?

    Count how many survivors are on his website. Says it all.

    (And cue the Burz shills – probably Marc Stephens using multiple logins…)

  5. I’d be interested to see a link for that 8,000 claim. Largest number I think I have seen quoted is £2,500.

  6. Here’s the 8,000 claim, from 2003.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20030408044151/http://www.cancermed.com/drburzynski.htm

    I suspect it was around earlier than that, so I will do a bit more digging.

  7. In 2000 he was claiming 3,000 patients.

    http://web.archive.org/web/200011150046/http://www.burzynskipatientgroup.org/antineop1.htm

    So, 5,000 patients in three years. If he kept up that pace he should have treated a further 15,000 since 2003. If that is the case (and if I believed for a second that it was I would have myself voluntarily committed to an asylum) he should have treated 23,000 patients by now. As there are 103 successes listed in the patient advertising site (72 since 2000) his failure rate is pretty exceptional. Or he just makes up numbers and patient names. Or both.

  8. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Based on Peter’s estimate of 23,000 clients through the door to date, using a VERY low average figure of $50,000 per client means the clinic has taken in 1.15 BILLION DOLLARS.

    I just got a little nauseous.

  9. An update: Patient mentioned in Movie (and on BPG) now dead: Neil Dublinksy http://lukeford.net/blog/?p=21602

  10. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Keir:

    Good find.

    So he died almost TWO YEARS ago and they still used him in the movie?!! And there’s no update on his page on the BPG website, of course.

    Unfortunately the deluded Burzynski supporters use cases like this as proof the treatments work. After all, he did live another 20 years. But from what I understand and have seen, NHL has one of the best success rates for treatment.

    I’m going to cross-post this on Orac’s blog. He’s also keeping track of Burzynski’s ghosts.

  11. Ric Schiff says:

    So, you are ghost hunting and want to do a body count?

    Any of you ever met a brainstem glioma patient, after they have received chemotherapy and or radiation? Niether one is curative, so please…..show me your clinical studies that you are so fond of? Do Burzynski’s patients die? Of course they do….they ALL had terminally ill death sentences when they walked in the door. So what’s the difference, a significant number of Burzynski’s survive! None do from conventional treatments. What were those chemotherapies’ approved for use in? Childhood Leukemia. How many phase two clinical trails are still on going with toxic chemotherapies that are time proven to be non-curative? Almost all of them.

    Now, lets see how accurate your “reporting” is…..Since I am Crystin Schiff’s father.

    Yes, she died. Her cure was documented by UCSF…completely. You see, Burzynski doesn’t do the documentation….your home hospital does. So who declared Cryssie cancer free? That’s right, the staff at UCSF! Why did I sue? Because UCSF had two previous Burzynski patients who they documented being cured of brain tumors…Pam Winningham and Jeff Keller. When I asked them, they lied to me. UCSF’s defense was not that Burzynski’s treatment didn’t work; they stipulated that it had in all three cases. I lost in Appellate court because the Judges determined that the Doctors’ at UCSF had no obligation to tell us about a cure OUTSIDE of CALIFORNIA! You getting this yet?

    I sent many of those patients who died to the clinic. I knew them, and their families. Obviously none of you know any of us personally. Each patient had a death sentence and there was no cure for them and no hope. Most had received previous chemotherapy and radiation. My daughter was a prime example.

    The staff at UCSF preformed Crystin’s autopsy. I even insisted that a friend of mine from the City’s Coroner’s office attend to ensure the process. They (UCSF) determined my daughter to be cancer free at the time of her death. No child diagnosed with the Rhabdoid had ever been diagnosed caner free once afflicted. They also determined cause of death….neurological necrosis. They gave her a lethal dosage of 6000 RADS whole brain radiation. A very common story for Burzynski patients. Cured and then doomed to die anyway.

    I guess you missed all that for your readers? Now ask yourselves, why do so many Burzynski patients, whose loved ones did die, continue to support him? I have for the past 16 years. Lots of people deserve to die screaming, but Cryssie didn’t.

    I know what I’ve spent my time doing, and who I have helped. Do you even have the slightest idea who the really bad people are? Either you don’t, or you work for them.

    Either way, maybe you should be afraid of ghosts. But the last person on this earth who should fear is Dr. Burzynski.

    Any of you can feel free to direct your questions directly to me.
    Ric Schiff
    Rschiff@pacbell.net

  12. Adam says:

    “so please…..show me your clinical studies that you are so fond of?”

    Er, that’s kind of the whole point. We can’t show you the clinical studies, because Burzynski hasn’t published them. So until he does, I’m afraid your assertion

    “So what’s the difference, a significant number of Burzynski’s survive! None do from conventional treatments.”

    lacks evidence.

  13. Lesmond says:

    I can’t imagine what you must have been through, Ric. God knows how I’d cope in that situation.

  14. dingo199 says:

    A new video with patient Hannah Bradley and the producer of the new followup to Bruzynski the Movie.
    Apparently all the skeptics are pharma shills or haven’t done their research.

  15. Pingback: Burzynski The Movie: Does It Prove The Efficacy of Antineoplastons Against Cancer? « Anaximperator blog

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