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Fighting for the Future

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What would you do if you were told you only had one year to live? Would you give up or would you do everything you can to fight your diagnosis?
Just over a year ago Becky Burgess was faced with this very decision, choosing to fight back against the disease that threatened her life and not accept the number the doctors were giving her.
“The last year has been a whirlwind,” said Bobby Burgess, Becky’s husband and a former Swan River resident who now lives in Alberta with his wife and two young children. “With Becky’s diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in late August 2017 and the devastating meeting with her oncologist at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton to today.
“We vividly remember sitting in the exam room waiting to see the CT scans and talk about Becky’s results. We were told she had one year to live, maybe two years with treatments (full dose chemo). I remember the doctor showing us the scans and explaining that ‘this isn’t good’ and asking if we fully comprehended what he was telling us.
“We were both surprisingly ok in that moment, Becky more than myself as several times I had to hold back tears, trying to be strong for my wife.”
Becky had been experiencing an extreme amount of back pain and they had found that tumours pushing on her spine were the cause.
“The doctor thought it was a miracle she was even walking,” said Burgess. “He prescribed Becky morphine pills and advised her they would make her as comfortable as possible for the rest of her life.
“With the exception of radiation, to attempt to alleviate some pain, and booking an appointment with the oncologist who administers palliative chemotherapy, they told us there was nothing they could do for her.”
It was at this point that Burgess got angry. He had done extensive research following his wife’s first bout of Cancer five years prior and knew that he did not want to watch her struggle with the hair loss and illness again when it would not help. In fact he was concerned that the fact that they gave her Chemotherapy even after “getting it all” with surgery may have actually caused the newly discovered cancer. The doctor agreed with his concerns.
“Becky’s warrior attitude and my refusal to accept this fate kicked in,” he said. “I spent the next week researching ‘alternative treatments’ in Mexico. And, after speaking with a friend of a friend who had attended Dr. Castillo’s CIPAG Clinic and had great results putting his cancer into remission, we decided to hop a plane and take the gamble.”
Becky’s first day at the clinic was Sept. 12, 2017 and burgess had to push her in a wheel chair across the USA border (as they were staying in California) and watch the excruciating pain she endured at every bump and crack in the uneven sidewalk.
“I wondered if she would ever get better and if we had made the right choice,” Burgess said, noting that this was their routine for the next couple months. “By mid-October 2017 Becky walked out of the clinic for the first time! Yes, she still used the wheel chair for long distances, but she could finally walk again!”
The Burgesses would head home for three months before returning to the clinic in Mexico at the beginning of January.
“While home in Canada we had received CT scans in Alberta that revealed some good news,” said Burgess. “The tumours had shrunk, some disappearing completely, and there were no new lesions. This time Becky walked through the airport without the wheel chair.
“Becky spent the next few weeks receiving treatments before we headed home, returning each week for three days and the next two weeks for IPT Chemo (low dose chemotherapy). We left Mexico at the end of January and were told to return in three months for another 10 day IV treatment.
“So, at the end of April we returned again,” he continued. “Becky again had a CT scan in Canada that confirmed her feelings that the treatments were working. The scans again showed remission and very positive results.
“This time, after our treatment session in Mexico, Dr. Castillo told Becky ‘See you in six months’. We were thrilled with the news but also surprised. How is it that the Doctors in Canada gave Becky one year to live yet these doctors feel so confident of their treatment that she can be away for six months?”
One year after her diagnosis Becky’s CT showed everything was stable.
“Becky is in constant contact with the clinic – whether it’s phone calls or emails, advice is always available. The doctors weren’t overly impressed that the last scan showed the tumours as only stable and asked Becky to come back so they could get on top of this. So, last month we returned to the clinic and Becky had treatments once again.
“We don’t know if we will have to come back in three months, six months or a year, but we know this is, hands down, the place to be and will continue to do what we have to, to get Becky back where she needs to be,” he continued.
“Going to Mexico was the best decision that we ever made for Becky’s health and well-being. Had we not taken the chance, packed our bags, hopped on a plane and went to Tijuana, Mexico, I strongly believe my wife would not be here, definitely would not be walking, and 100 percent for sure would not have had the last year to play with our kids and enjoy life.”


Concerns with the Canadian healthcare system

While making the decision to seek treatment in Mexico was the best decision the Burgess family could have made in Becky’s battle with Cancer, it did not come without significant expense.
“To date we have spent more than $100,000 Canadian, on treatments, travel, accommodations and related expenses,” said Bobby Burgess. “We have submitted claims to Alberta Health Services seeking reimbursement for the treatments Becky has received.
“The red tape and lack of understanding of their own policies has been frustrating, to say the least. The answers we have received have been from each ends of the spectrum – chemo will be covered, nothing will be covered, doctors’ fees will be covered but nothing else. In the end, we recently received an email saying nothing will be covered and no reimbursements will be made to us.”
While the Burgesses feel the Canadian healthcare system has its place, they also know it has definitely failed Becky.
“We pay significant taxes and in return expect healthcare and treatments that work,” Burgess said. “How is it that a third world country such as Mexico, can do something for my wife that Canada cannot?
“How is it that an advanced country like Canada can write off a young, 32 year old woman who has so much more life to live? How is it that the treatments offered in Mexico aren’t offered in Canada? How is it that the doctors at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton don’t believe in treatments that their own CT scans cannot dispute?”
Not wanting others to have to go through the headaches they have, the family plans to make some noise and ensure others know about this place, including the government of Alberta and Canada.
“We have met many people who have received this humane treatment that believes in making people feel better, not worse,” said Burgess. “Becky is living proof that it works and, more importantly, it has given her a life again.
“We just wish Canada’s health care system would open their eyes and adopt these treatments that, literally, cost a fraction of what ‘standard’ treatments in Canada cost.”


Becky’s treatments

While in Mexico at CIPAG Clinic, Becky Burgess underwent a treatment plan containing a number of different processes to best target her particular type of Cancer.
“There is no standard protocol for patients at the clinic in Mexico,” said Bobby Burgess. “Each person and each disease is treated differently, just as it should.”
IPT Chemo
“This is the same chemo that is used in Canada, however it is the way that it is administered that makes a difference,” said Burgess. “You fast as well as receiving a dose of insulin which lowers your blood sugar and starves the cancer of its food source, sugar.
“Once your sugar levels are low enough they pump chemo through your system and lace it with sugar so the cancer cells instantly start eating the sugar chemo.
“The best part is there are little to no side effects because it is only 20-30 percent of the dosage you would receive in Canada and is just as effective,” he continued. “This is used in more than 40 other countries around the world, but not in Canada or the USA.
“In Mexico they believe that there is a place for full dose chemo but that is typically not the starting point unless completely necessary.”
Hoxsey
“Hoxsey Therapy or Hoxsey Method is an alternative medical treatment promoted as a cure for cancer,” said Burgess. “The treatment consists of a caustic herbal paste for external cancers or an herbal mixture for internal cancers, combined with, vitamin supplements, and dietary changes.”
Miscellaneous
Other treatments to aid in the process include Chelation therapy to detoxify the body, DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) as an anti-inflammatory agent, Sodium bicarbonate to make the acidic blood which the cancer cells thrive in more basic, Hyperbaric Chamber to help with healing, B17 injections to help kill cancer cells and high dose vitamins to build the immune system up.