As many of you know, Charlie and Regina Largent are not only close friends of mine, they have also been incredible defenders of liberty in Alaska. Both Charlie and Regina have been engaged in a major way in every one of my statewide races. The Largent’s have also been instrumental in other efforts, including establishing a local chapter of Alaska Right to Life on the Kenai Peninsula, where Regina served as the founding President of that board.
During my last race, in October 2016, Charlie’s position as an HSE manager on the North Slope was eliminated. As Charlie was actively involved at the time in social media, warring against our “senior senator,” this seemed a little too coincidental. But even though he lost his job, Charlie continued to work harder than ever as a volunteer on the campaign.
Three months later, on January 14, 2017, Charlie was diagnosed with Stage III esophageal cancer.
While the Largent’s made plans to start treatment locally in Soldotna, research on this (aggressive) type of cancer – and the limited experience with esophageal cancer of the doctors in Alaska – led to the decision to seek treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. An important consideration for this transition was to get to a facility where surgeons have conducted thousands of esphagectomies – a risky and life-changing surgery.
Please make your most generous donation HERE and select the benevolence fund so that Charlie can receive the care he needs.
So, a week and a half after diagnosis, Charlie, his wife Regina and two of their three children (the oldest staying behind as she was attending college full-time in Soldotna), borrowed my RV that I had stored in the lower-48, and drove on to Houston to for treatment at MD Anderson, staying at a nearby RV park. In order to afford this “all hands on deck” fight for his life, Charlie cashed out his retirement to cover living expenses for his family of five.
During this chaotic and frightening time, close friends – and friends of close friends – shared with the Largent’s their own experiences with cancer in their families and, out of these shared experiences, it became clear to that there was much to be learned beyond the standard one-size-fits-all box of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. A monumental research effort ensued, both by the Largent’s as well as some of their close friends, where they found published studies reflecting horrendous 5-year survival rates for Charlie’s cancer when using the official “standard of care” (where the efficacy rate of highly toxic chemotherapy is about 2%, meaning for Charlie’s cancer, chemotheraphy fails about 98% of the time and, even the addition of radiation still promises between 85% and 90% death/failure rate within 5 years).
Friends shared personal stories of their own battles with cancer (or close family members’ battles), where they rejected the toxicity and high failure rate of the “standard of care,” instead pursuing a broad range of natural treatments that attacked the cancer from many angles (first and foremost of which is rebuilding the immune system). One close friend had completely rejected chemo and radiation, utilizing a strict diet and consistent IV immune-building therapy where her tumor shrank and was eventually cut out with no live cancer cells remaining. Another friend shared her grandmother’s story, who had suffered an aggressive breast cancer where, after surviving a tough bout of chemo and radiation, cancer reared its ugly head once more but this time the grandmother beat it naturally, with immune-building supplements and a strict diet.
Please make your most generous donation HERE and select the benevolence fund so that Charlie can receive the care he needs.
While at MD Anderson, a “top 1%” cancer facility, Charlie received important testing to determine whether his cancer had spread to other areas of his body (brain, stomach cavity, etc). Thankfully, although his tumor was large, it had not spread, so was still considered Stage III. Charlie had a team of doctors on his case and, at each meeting, he asked very open-ended questions about the powerful adjuncts to therapy that were well-documented to support a person’s immune system and overall health during a cancer fight (e.g., ascorbic acid by IV, cucurmin, fasting before chemotherapy, etc). Each time he asked about one of these powerful adjuncts – supported by multiple published studies and scientific evidence – his question was completely brushed off by the cancer “expert,” where he was told more than once, “don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” Because his health continued to deteriorate while in Houston, largely because of an unaddressed internal bleed, Charlie would later say that the cancer center was “ready to chemo and radiate a half dead guy.”
During this same short time-frame, the Largent’s research continued in the integrative world of natural medicine, where the importance of rebuilding a compromised immune system played a key role across the board for natural cancer fighting strategies. The Largent’s highly recommend these websites for anyone wishing to dig into this topic, including: www.thetruthaboutcancer.com ; www.bestanswerforcancer.com and www.mercola.com. A major development for Charlie at this time was that when MD Anderson conducted an endoscopy a little over three weeks after his initial diagnosis, it was clear that his regime of supplements, juicing, and strict diet had had a profoundly positive impact on his cancer. In fact, the GI specialist said Charlie’s tumor could have been “half again bigger,” but it had (at worst) not grown at all in over three weeks and (at best) appeared to have shrunk by 2 cm! This “remission” was not at all what any of the doctors would have expected to see from an esophageal cancer patient who had not yet received “treatment.”
Alongside the friends who shared their non-toxic cancer fighting strategies, the Largent’s also met (by phone) a friend of a friend, “Greg,” who had just gone through conventional treatment, including an esophagectomy, after having a fairly smooth ride through the chemo and radiation regime that often devastates (or even causes death) for many cancer patients. Greg’s case was compelling, particularly since he was about the same age as Charlie and, at diagnosis, was in similar condition physically (including tumor size). He seemed to have sailed through treatments and appeared to be on the road to recovery. In fact, often, when Regina shared her research in the natural cancer fighting strategies with Charlie, he would say, “well, look at Greg and how well he has done!”
Then came the text message. It was March 2nd, about 60 days after Greg successfully completed his “standard of care” cancer treatment and surgery, and right at the time Charlie had to decide one path or the other – he had even been mapped and tattooed for radiation, and Regina had information on the ready for facilities in Reno and in Mexico where he could receive non-toxic immune building integrative treatment. The text, from Greg, simply said: “they just found a tumor in my colon and said it’s my esophageal cancer strain.” That hit like a ton of bricks – the secondary cancer spread meant Stage IV and almost certain death. [Footnote: Tragically, Greg died this past September
At this point Charlie had a series of conversations that helped counter the suspicious fears he had of opting for Mexico (where you can’t even drink the water!) over the “Cadillac plan” cancer treatment at MD Anderson. One of those conversations was with Rick Abbott, another Alaskan and a dual Stage IV cancer survivor who had gone to Mexico for treatment and who, after following a strict diet and regiment of natural supplements, was cancer free 5 years after being told in 2011 by oncologists in Alaska and Washington that he was terminal with no treatment options other than palliative care. His story is compelling and can be found here.
Once Charlie decided the direction for treatment (Mexico), everything moved quickly. Kids and pets were flown back to Alaska and travel arrangements to Mexico quickly fell into place. Charlie and Regina spent 3 weeks in Tiujuana for in-patient treatment (at the International Bio-Care Hospital that had successfully treated Rick Abbot as well as another friend in Regina’s Bible study group). Charlie’s treatment included daily IV infusions (8 hour nutrition feeds alternated with half-day cancer fighting feeds), hyperbaric chamber, hyperthermia and very nutritious organic meals and vegetable juicing. Just 3 days into treatment, the internal bleeding stopped (for the first time in months), and in 3 weeks, Charlie was in better physical shape than he had been in a few years. Because esophageal cancer is highly aggressive and adaptable (in the top 5 fastest growing), the doctors advised that he return in 6 months.
Once back in Alaska, Charlie had to wait about a month to get in to see Dr. Robert Thompson, a local doctor who offers integrative treatment within the context of an IRB study. This internationally certified study includes doctors in the Lower 48 as well as doctors in countries outside the United States and is based upon the published results of pioneering work by Dr. James Forsythe in Reno, Nevada. Dr. Forsythe’s successful protocol can be found here. Also, a great interview with Dr. Forsythe can be found in breast cancer survivor Suzanne Somers book “Knockout.” For comparison, the dismal results of “standard of care” in cancer centers across the nation can be reviewed here, “Top doctors: Chemotherapy one of dozens of procedures shown to ‘give no benefit’”.
During the month Charlie waited to get in for his first consult with Dr. Thompson, he continued bi-weekly IV therapy with a local ND and followed a fairly strict diet. He did, however, suffer a couple of setbacks that left him in almost worse shape than when he started treatment after his diagnosis. First, Charlie had a j-tube placed as a precautionary measure due to location of his tumor at the esophageal junction and, while recovering from that surgery, he contracted a devastating virus that laid him out for days (thus further weakening his already compromised immune system). Also, after weeks of heavy iron supplementation Charlie’s cancer advanced quickly to close off his ability to eat or drink by mouth where he also suffered dramatic weight loss over the course of about three weeks. This was a frightening time for the Largent family. At times Charlie could not even swallow his own saliva and getting sufficient nutrition through a tiny j-tube took around the clock effort.
Everything changed quickly once Dr. Thompson came on board. At the initial consult, Dr. Thompson told Charlie in no uncertain terms to “get off the iron, it will advance your cancer!” This caused no small amount of concern since multiple doctors had advised higher doses of iron because of his anemia – even weekly iron shots. The fact that excess iron is harmful (and especially for cancer patients) is not well known even in the medical community, but an in-depth explanation by a well-known neurosurgeon can be found here, as well as additional in-depth information here”>here, as well as additional in-depth information here.
Once Charlie got off the iron and started his 5-days per week treatment with Dr. Thompson, his symptoms (difficulty swallowing and extreme fatigue) quickly turned around. Amazingly, within 7 days of being in Dr. Thompson’s care, Charlie went from complete reliance on his feeding tube for nutrition to eating by mouth normally. The treatment (and cessation of the iron) had definitely pushed back hard against the recent tumor progression.
A substantial problem quickly developed, however. Despite carrying Blue Cross insurance for most of his adult life and never, ever, even meeting his deductible, once Charlie’s treatment fell outside of the “standard of care” (i.e., that recommended by MD Anderson), every single bill submitted by his IRB MD was denied for a myriad of different “reasons.” Even more troubling, within the two inch tall stack of medical claim denials, it was discovered that mid-year, Charlie’s $2000 out of network deductible transformed (without notice) into a $6000 out of network deductible! And because his IRB doctor was not getting reimbursed by insurance, the Largent’s quickly had to start selling assets to pay the doctor upfront costs for the monthly $6k plus medications and supplies. The doctor currently carries forward a substantial balance on Charlie’s account for the cost of his time and his staff’s time and absent this exceptional generosity, Charlie would have been unable to continue this life-saving treatment.
Without a doubt, the Largents have a long insurance battle over the payment denials, but their hope is that any “win” they manage to achieve as they fight the blatant discrimination against integrative natural treatment will provide an easier path for those who subsequently choose a path outside of the pharmaceutical box.
Currently, the Largent’s have paid out-of-pocket for medical treatment (including travel), in excess of $60,000. This does not include the $40,000(+) in medical bills that have stacked up due to insurance company denials. And due to the aggressive nature of Charlie’s cancer, delays with treatment caused by insurance claim denials could prove deadly. The Largent’s obviously need help to meet these demands and to continue providing for their family’s ongoing living expenses.
Providentially, the Largent’s local church has set up a tax-deductible fund to assist with catastrophes like this and is standing by to help the Largent’s. Please make your most generous donation HERE and select the benevolence fund so that Charlie can receive the care he needs.