Mesothelioma Information Asbestosis Information

Mesothelioma Information  Asbestosis Information

Surviving Mesothelioma, a Terminal Cancer: 
Paul Kraus' Remarkable Story
For anyone faced with a dire prognosis of cancer or any other disease, the following interview will inspire you. In the annals of cancer, mesothelioma is one of the worst possible types of cancer to have. In the words of oncologists it has a "dismal therapeutic outcome"1 and is "an aggressive incurable tumor." 2. The median survival from diagnosis ranges from 6 to 18 months. 3. Despite this prognosis, Mr. Paul Kraus is alive nearly 8 years after he was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. What is equally remarkable is that Mr. Kraus had no orthodox cancer therapies - he opted to say 'no' to chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Instead, Mr. Kraus made radical lifestyle changes, altering his diet, using intravenous and oral vitamins, herbs, amino acids and other immune boosting therapies and supplements, and tapping into the power of the mind-body connection.
Mesothelioma Information  Asbestosis Information
Asbestosis Information

The Diagnosis
Cancer Monthly: Paul can you tell us when you were diagnosed and what types of symptoms you experienced that led to your diagnosis?

PK: I was diagnosed at the end of June 1997. The only symptom I had was a very bloated abdomen. I did not have any pain. I actually went into the hospital for an umbilical hernia repair and the cancer was an accidental finding. During the surgery the surgeon removed a lot of fluid from my abdomen. He also conducted a laparoscopic examination that revealed widespread metastases. He first thought that I had metastatic pancreatic cancer. It took two or three weeks for the pathology to come back from Sydney and say that in fact it was mesothelioma.

Cancer Monthly: And that diagnosis was reconfirmed by another hospital?
PK: Yes, my pathology was sent to Australia's leading pathologist in mesothelioma cases, Professor Douglas Henderson of Adelaide. They had two teams of pathologists verify and confirm the diagnosis. In fact, it was confirmed as peritoneal or abdominal rather than pleural mesothelioma. This is a very unusual subtype, even within the annals of mesothelioma.

Cancer Monthly: Does peritoneal mesothelioma have the same kind of dire prognosis as the more frequently encountered pleural mesothelioma?

PK: Yes. In fact, when we first went to a professor of oncology in Sydney, we thought that peritoneal is less dangerous than pleural. He shook his head and said, "Oh, no, oh no. In fact, in some ways it is even more difficult."

Cancer Monthly: How was your health history prior to that diagnosis?
PK: It had been good, but I had suffered from a lot of stress. And there were minor family traumas in the previous 12 to 18 months before diagnosis. Some writers say that things like that may affect one's immune function. Sometimes I conjecture whether that was a little warning or a tap on the shoulder from someone upstairs to change my lifestyle, which I of course I radically did, but more about that in a few minutes.

Previous Exposure to Asbestos
Cancer Monthly: Now, mesothelioma regardless of the subtype is associated with prior exposure to asbestos. Had you been exposed to asbestos?

PK: For the first 12 or 18 months after my diagnosis I did not make the connection that about 35 years earlier I had been exposed to asbestos. I am a former high school teacher. I did not work with asbestos in any way. But, in the early 1960's when I was a university student and on my vacation, I was working in a factory where they were sawing asbestos fiber sheets nearby. There, I was exposed to that blue dust for a few weeks. Nobody warned me. There were no warnings, no signs. This was the only known source of exposure for me. After leaving university I became a high school teacher and a writer. So I had no other known exposure. In fact, my early medical records stated that this patient has no known exposure to asbestos. The disease lay dormant for all that time.

Cancer Monthly: Did you file suit?
PK: I did eventually take up proceedings (sue). I was very very reluctant to do this. In fact I flatly refused. However, I was prompted by my son. He pointed out correctly what this diagnosis has done to my life. How my income had been slashed, and so on. I finally succumbed to these promptings and succeeded in gaining compensation for my damages.

Treatment Choices
Cancer Monthly: Now, you are faced with this horrible diagnosis and I imagine you are being offered perhaps surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Instead you opted not to have any orthodox treatments. Can you tell us how you came to make these decisions?

PK: Actually, I was not offered much hope at all. My medical prognosis was very poor. At that time, I asked what were the chances of success with chemotherapy and I was told not very high at all. That's why I opted for a different path. Apart from being racked with fear and the fact that the fluid in my abdomen was building up again, I did not have any pain. My quality of life was, at that moment, okay. I made the decision not to go down that so called conventional path because I was told by the doctors that my quality of life would be quite severely compromised with the heavy chemotherapy I would have been prescribed. And so I made a major decision. I decided to radically change my lifestyle. I read books by Bernie Siegel (Peace, Love and Healing: Bodymind Communication & the Path to Self-Healing: An Exploration; Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with Exceptional Patients). I read books by Andrew Weil (Spontaneous Healing), and Simonton and Matthews (Getting Well Again). These books were incredibly inspirational and useful. For example, Andrew Weil wrote that any illness can be conquered through radical lifestyle change because our bodies are made with powerful self-healing capacities. It was damn hard to make such radical changes, but I was determined to see them through. I realized that to do otherwise meant that my chances of surviving were greatly diminished.

I made the decision that I am going to do everything I possibly can to turn this illness around. I began juicing --- carrot juice and beetroot juice, as well as green juices four or five times a day. I learned to meditate and use visualization. I did this for hours. I also prayed. I went to prayer groups and healing groups. I learned affirmations. I radically altered my diet into a vegetarian diet. I cut-out sugar. I ate high-fiber, predominantly raw food, but not exclusively. I also focused on exercise. I began taking vitamin, mineral, herbal and homeopathic supplements along with amino acids (N-Acetyl-Cystine (NAC), methylcobalamin, reduced glutathione). Also I took vitamins A, C, and E. Non-acidic vitamin C. Calcium ascorbate powder. I take slightly less now than I what I did initially. For the first couple of years after the diagnosis I was taking 8 grams a day in divided doses of Vitamin C in the form of calcium ascorbate.

Cancer Monthly: Were you taking the Vitamin C orally or intravenously.
PK: I took the 8 grams orally, it's in powder form and I dissolved it in water. But one of the therapies that I count as very important in those early days was the intravenous vitamin C that I had administered in conjunction with what is called ozone therapy.

Cancer Monthly: And how was the ozone therapy administered?
PK: Intravenously. They took blood out of a vein, used an ozone machine to ozone the blood and reintroduced it into my body through a drip. The rationale for that was that cancer does not like an oxygenated environment and the ozone therapy greatly helped to oxygenate the cells. In addition, I used another treatment when I was first diagnosed called Ukrain. These treatments were an adjunct to my lifestyle change.

The other thing I should say that I think is terribly important, almost fundamental, is that for the first four or five months after diagnosis, the volume of fluid in my abdomen was not really improving. I complained to my doctor, I said, "Look I'm doing all this and nothing is happening." And he reminded me, admonished me actually, and he said, "Be patient because this takes time. You are getting better. You affirm that you are getting better in your affirmations and your visualizations which you use in conjunction with these therapies. So just give it time." And he was right. His words were prophetic. They did in fact stabilize my cancer.

Cancer Monthly: For the treatments you mentioned, the Ukrain, ozone therapy, Vitamin C, supplements, other vitamins, how were you able to put that regimen or protocol together? Did you find it all in one place or in parts from your research and reading?

PK: This protocol or regime came about from my intensive research. I did not have access to the internet at that stage, back in 1997, but a friend did. We researched it together. Also, I had by great fortune a holistic doctor, a general practitioner. He routinely used intravenous C for other cancer patients. That particular aspect of the protocol was through him. He also said he had heard about Ukrain but that he did not know very much about it. So we tracked it down and incorporated it into my treatment and the same with the ozone therapy. He had said that he did not know too much about ozone therapy but that in my situation it was worth a try.

Cancer Monthly: That's absolutely fantastic that you had an open-minded holistic practitioner who was willing to try things with you.

PK: Yes.
Cancer Monthly: In terms of the timeline, did you start this protocol soon after your diagnosis or was there a period where you waited? How quickly did you start all of this?

PK: The radical lifestyle change especially regarding diet, I started virtually immediately. The juicing and changing of my diet to the vegetarian, low fat, no sugar I started literally within a few days of being diagnosed. Now for the supplements, within a month I was on the basic vitamins A, C, and E. Then gradually over the first few months after that I learned about some of these minerals such as selenium which is a very important and the amino acids and so on. I started on intravenous C within 6 weeks of diagnosis. And I learned to meditate. I was reading the books that I mentioned earlier within a couple of weeks after I was diagnosed.

Cancer Monthly: How are you doing now?
PK: Four months ago I turned sixty and I feel fine. I live day to day. My tests are okay. They say that I still have cancer and my energy level is not very good. But, I'm fine. I don't have any pain. My doctor tells me, "You're fine. Just keep up what you are doing and you will go on for years." He's convinced of it because the CT scans do not show any deterioration. They do vary a bit. They do show there is still fluid, but I have affirmed that sure there's fluid in there but it's probably non-malignant by now.

Cancer Monthly: And from the time of your diagnosis until now you have never had chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery?

PK: That is correct. In fact in August 2000, I was under a great deal of stress because one of my children was very ill. My condition began to deteriorate and I saw an eminent cancer surgeon. He recommended that I have a very major surgery. What is called a peritonectomy where they remove, over 10 or 12 hours, the entire peritoneal lining. And I really meditated on that, I thought about it. I asked my general practitioner about it. He said, "Look even though the test shows a deterioration, how are you feeling?" I said, "I feel fine. I don't have any pain." He said, "Go back on the intravenous C. Go back on the Ukrain. Go back on the ozone therapy." And he felt confident that since I had done it once before I could do it again. And he was right. So I did not have surgery.

Cancer Monthly: So you went back on the protocol in August 2000 and stayed on it for how long?
PK: About 14 or 15 months. I know if this happens again I'll just return to that full IV protocol.

Cancer Monthly: And now you are doing what one might call maintenance therapy?
PK: That's exactly right.

Cancer Monthly: And that's comprised of the oral vitamins, minerals, other supplements, and diet?
PK: That is correct.

Mind & Body Connection
Cancer Monthly: You have talked about the importance of the regimen and also the importance of a positive mental state. Would you say that your mental state is as essential as the therapies?

PK: Absolutely. I would be giving a false impression if I were to say I was psychologically on top of things from the beginning. I was not, especially in the first six months after diagnosis. At that point, it was not so much a struggle against cancer as it was a struggle with myself, with my constant fears and doubts. That was my battle. I was battling myself as much as I was the cancer. There is something terribly important here. As part of my therapy, I wrote a journal which ultimately became a book called Faith, Hope, Love and Laugher: How They Heal. It was highly therapeutic in my case just writing down thoughts and fears and doubts; chronicling these sorts of things.

Also, I'll never forget the first day that I had those intravenous therapies administered. I was very fearful. The nurse who was doing the administrating detected my fears. She put everything down and said, "I want you to affirm, visualize as I administer these therapies that they are actually doing you good. This is very important and powerful to your healing. If you don't accept that these therapies are doing you good then the treatment will not work because your mind and your body are one." She was right. The mind body connection is very important for healing. They are inextricably linked. If one has the wrong attitude one cannot be a survivor of mesothelioma or any form of cancer.

Unless otherwise indicated by an endnote, the above material was adapted from National Cancer Institute Cancer Facts - Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers 5/13/2002.

1 Phase II trial of a single weekly intravenous dose of ranpirnase in patients with unresectable malignant mesothelioma . Mikulski SM, et al., J Clin Oncol . 2002 Jan 1;20(1):274-81.
2 A multicentre phase II study of cisplatin and gemcitabine for malignant mesothelioma . Nowak AK, et al., Br J Cancer. 2002 Aug 27;87(5):491-6.
3 A multicentre phase II study of cisplatin and gemcitabine for malignant mesothelioma. Nowak AK, et al., Br J Cancer. 2002 Aug 27;87(5):491-6.

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