Unfortunately, I’ve known a few people who have had cancer over the years. Heck, I’ve had it – still do, but it’s not an aggressive, worrisome one. I’ve seen cancers cured with surgery alone. I’ve seen cancers cured with radiation alone. I’ve seen cancers cured with chemotherapy alone. I’ve seen cancers cured with a combination of two, or all three. I’ve seen cancers that have gone into periods of remission because of these treatments, allowing people many good years. And, of course, I’ve seen cancers that simply couldn’t be cured by anything. But what I haven’t seen is doctors pushing inappropriate chemotherapy on patients because they’re sadistic monsters who want to poison people.
“Cancer” is not a single disease, but over a hundred different diseases that form from a similar mechanism. Normally, cells in our body die off, and those cells are replaced. The cell death is called apoptosis, and different cells in your body apoptose at different rates (forget what you heard about that “every seven years” thing. . .) Because of a large number of factors, occasionally those replacement cells will be faulty. Your genetics cause a misreading of your DNA, or a mixup in the instructions from the RNA, or an epigenetic flaw causes a cancer cell to be expressed or a cancer suppressor to be repressed. Exposure to a known carcinogen can trigger the production of cancer cells in a similar manner – sometimes on its own and sometimes because you have a genetic susceptibility to the carcinogen. Age is actually the biggest culprit, because cell reproduction can degenerate in accuracy over time. For the same reason all the other cells in our body change as we age, and not for the better, a cancerous cell can be created instead of an identical replacement cell when the aging process interferes.
So these cancer cells, under ideal circumstances, would be plain ol’ replacements for cells that have died off, and they would eventually die off, too. What they do instead is, first of all, not die. Second of all, they can influence other cells to be reproduced incorrectly as cancer cells. Thirdly, many of them become able to reproduce themselves. The way they behave depends on where the cancer occurs in the body, what triggered it (see previous paragraph) and whether and how they proliferate. And all of these factors together determine what treatment is recommended – and it’s not always chemotherapy.
Edited 1/18/2014- I was not explaining this as well as I thought I was, and so I want to add this very helpful video:
However, when chemotherapy is recommended, it’s done so because it’s been shown to be effective at treating that particular cancer. And the chemotherapy that treats that particular cancer might not be the same chemotherapy that treats a different particular cancer. There are many, many different medications that fall under the umbrella term “chemotherapy.” They are not universally interchangeable. And they are working more effectively every year, and the number of medications and the number of cancers becoming treatable is constantly increasing.
Yes, it is poison. Because those cells were made by your body, not some outside pathogen. A medicine that kills a bacterium or a parasite or even a virus is going to be useless, because the cells that need to be killed are your own, made by your body. It’s a fine line that takes a lot of research – figure out the chemical and the dose and the number of times it needs to be administered and how many courses of administration that will kill the part of you that’s cancer without killing the part of you that isn’t. So to the people trying to demonize chemotherapy by screaming that it’s poison, all I can say is, “Well, duh.” They also like to say that it doesn’t improve your chances of survival, that it causes more deaths than cancer itself, and a number of other things that are based upon a lack of understanding and flawed information put out by other people who lack understanding.
Of course, the thing to remember when making the claim that chemo kills people is that the people who are getting chemo have some of the worst cancers. Naturally, if you’re getting chemo, you have a higher risk of death than that of someone who isn’t getting chemo – because you have a life-threatening cancer. When people who are getting chemo die, they are generally dying from the cancer, not the chemo. But again, the statement that “chemo kills more people than cancer does” comes from people who are usually trying to sell their own “cancer treatments”. The thing is, though, that none of these alternatives change your genetics, decrease your susceptibility to carcinogens, prevent cancer cells from influencing the production of additional cells or proliferating themselves by cell division, or cause the cancer cells to die instead of living until the death of the patient, so they can’t possibly prevent or cure cancer – because curing cancer sometimes requires poison.
One day, maybe those poisons will be much better – they’ll be much more poisonous to the cancer cells your body has created and much less poisonous to the normal cells your body has created. But they’re still going to have to be some kind of poison, because they’re going to need to kill a piece of you that your body made the wrong way.