Friday, March 26, 1999
The Globe and Mail
Tijuana, Mexico -- Contrary to the grim diagnosis offered last week in Canada, medical tests at an alternative healing clinic show no evidence that the bone cancer growing in young Tyrell Dueck's right leg has spread to his lungs, the boy's father said yesterday.
"Basically the news we got was the opposite of what we heard in Saskatoon -- which was all negative. Here, they haven't found anything," Tyrell's father Timothy, 36, said, sitting among the lemon trees and hyacinths of this lush hacienda-clinic, which has treated 21,000 patients over the past 20 years -- most with end-stage cancer.
"They say it has not spread. They didn't find any traces of it [cancer] had spread to his lungs."
Mr. Dueck said Tyrell is being treated with shark cartilage, an immune-system booster, and detoxification drugs until his alternative treatment gets underway this weekend.
Physicians at the $5,900-a-week American Biologics Clinic here conducted blood tests, X-rays, and CT scans, Mr. Dueck said, and found only the tumour in Tyrell's leg.
"That's great news," he said.
The shocking diagnosis last week in Saskatoon that the cancer had spread to Tyrell's lungs ended a legal standoff with child-protection authorities in Saskatchewan who wanted the boy to undergo orthodox cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and amputation of his leg.
Mike Culbert, a Wichita, Kan., entrepreneur and former Berkeley Calif., newspaper editor who founded American Biologics said doctors may use various therapies including the controvesial drug laetrile and gene manipulation therapy to attack the tumour in Tyrell's leg.
The clinic -- one of dozens of U.S-owned alternative healing clinics in this sprawling Mexican border city of 1.2 million -- has nine full-time physicians and 36 beds for acute-care patients.
The wards in the clinic are clean and the halls pungent with the uncanny aroma of apricot -- the key extract used in the drug laetrile. Patients -- including a few Canadians -- amble the halls and flower gardens with intravenous bags in tow. Many wear kerchiefs to shield their bald heads from the Mexican sunshine -- the effects of chemotherapy at an earlier stage of their illness.
Among them is four-year-old Jessey Hills of New Zealand, diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumour that conventional medicine could not treat. "We're so glad to be here -- this is absolutely helping," the little boy's grandfather, Richard Lewis, said as he walked hand-in-hand with the tiny soccer-playing youngster around a fig tree in the clinic's courtyard.
Every morning outpatients of the Tijuana clinics queue at a motor inn in San Ysidro, Calif., just over the border, for a shuttle bus to take them into Mexico for chelation therapy, gene manipulation, hypothermic blood therapy and a host of unconventional treatments they are unable to obtain at home.
Ray and Cecil Klassen, farmers from Linden, Alta., have been visiting their ailing mother who was diagnosed with stomach cancer and brought here last week. "A lot of it has to do with your mind," said Ray Klassen. "The first thing the doctor here said is 'Does your mother want to live?' "
The Klassens, deeply religious like the Duecks, heard about American Biologics through a nurse in Prince Albert, Sask. In just a few days their mother is pain-free and comfortable here, they said.
Last Friday in Saskatoon the Duecks were told by oncologists that Tyrell's cancer had spread to his lungs. Mr. Dueck said he received a call from lawyer Owen Griffiths. He said the doctor wants to talk to you and that the news "probably isn't good."
As they were driving from Martensville to Saskatoon, Tim turned to Yvonne with a premonition: "They're going to tell us there's no hope for Tyrell and we're free to go." "How do you feel about that?" Yvonne replied. "I said I feel wonderful. God just delivered me from the system."
Mr. Cuthbert said the American Cancer Association and orthodox physicians feel threatened by alternative therapies because they want to protect their own turf and income. He said it is a known fact that chemotherapy can cause cancer to spread. He noted American Biologics does not claim to cure anyone but that 95 per cent of patients are helped in some way by their visit here.
The Dueck family, Timothy, Yvonne and daughters Angie and Stephanie are staying in nearby bungalows owned by American Biologics, while Tyrell rests in a corner room of the clinic next door. A modern operating theatre and X-ray clinic are on site.
Mr. Dueck said Tyrell's leg was bothering him yesterday but that he is relieved to have fled the glare of publicity.
"Last night he had this big red ring around his eye and on his leg -- that's the toxins coming out," Mr. Dueck said. "Suddenly this morning that redness was gone."
Mr. Dueck said he is not worried about the cost of treatment.
"I don't know why God's got to put us human beings in sickness or financial stress before we talk to Him the way we're supposed to, but that's the way it is," he said, adding he wanted to thank the many Canadians for their support and prayers for Tyrell.