In July 2010, Domenica was having very bad headaches. On July 27, she went into the hospital for scans.
The scans revealed a mass in her left frontal lobe. Following surgery and resection of the larger tumor, Domenica was diagnosed as having stage four glioblastoma multiforme.
Within 2 weeks of his cousin’s diagnosis, her cousin Eric Merola, the director of the Burzynski franchise of movies, was using his cousin to flog his film and Burzynski’s treatment:
“It is also worth noting that the film’s director—Eric Merola’s 30 year old cousin was diagnosed last week with a Grade IV Glioblastoma brain tumor. The FDA will not allow her to be treated by Dr. Burzynski without her first failing radiation therapy, which could cause her to be a victim of brain necrosis – so even if she fails the radiation ”treatment” and Burzynski ends up curing her, she could still die 12 to 18 months later from necrosis of the brain: a very common side effect of radiation therapy in Glioblastoma patients.”
According to Domenica, the tumor quickly grew back before she started treatment, necessitating a second surgery. She reports:
“After this second surgery I was then able to start a course of treatment involving six weeks of Temodar (chemotherapy) and six weeks of standard Radiation.”
While we later hear that the chemotherapy and radiation “did nothing for me,” we should point out that the original tumor grew back faster than they could start her on treatment, and she does make it to March, when we pick up her story.
During the week of March 23, 2011, while promoting his film, Eric Merola announces that his cousin Domenica began antineoplastons in Houston. They, of course, need to raise funds, and they are doing it through a survivor’s charity, which is essentially designed to raise money for Burzynski:
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation through this organization (settingthemfree.org) to my cousin’s treatment, Domenica P[...], who has a Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV brain tumor, who has started Antineoplaston treatment this week at the Burzynski clinic, click here.
Merola, it seems, was responsible for sending Domenica to Burzynski:
I am fortunate to even have been made aware of Dr. Burzynski and Antineoplastons as another option via my cousin Eric Merola’s work on Dr. Burzynski’s story.
Right now, I fully qualify for FDA-approved clinical trials using Antineoplastons to treat my Glioblastoma brain cancer. All I need is the money to pay for it.
Of course, no legitimate enterprise uses the fact that a treatment is in clinical trials as evidence of efficacy. It actually means, “still not proven safe or effective,” as in, “it’s still in trials.”
On April 21st, Merola is jubilant as he announces on his Burzynski Movie facebook page:
Amazing News! Eric Merola’s cousin, Domenica [P], has been on Antineoplaston treatmentfor 6 weeks to treat her Glioblastoma Grade IV brain cancer (the same tumor Senator Kennedy died of) and her first MRI after treatment shows the tumor is now stabilized! This means the medicine is working, and should hopefully result in a total elimination of this deadly so-called “incurable” brain tumor she currently has.
In fact, that same day, Merola put up a much longer post about, declaring:
“[T]he tumor is breaking down, and the enhancing portion of the tumor is diminishing!”
Now, we wonder about that “breaking down” statement, because we have heard similar things before from the Clinic. And when you realize that this post is no longer up, but that it was taken down without comment (the link above is to the Way Back Machine), you start to realize that there may be much more to the story.
Domenica’s page on the Setting Them Free page soon announces:
UPDATE: May 2, 2011 – Four weeks after starting her Antineoplaston treatment, Domenica’s MRI shows that the tumor is diminishing! This means that the medicine is working! Please donate whatever you can, your money would be contributing to a possible complete recovery due to her Antineoplaston treatment!
On Wed, May 11, 2011, less than two weeks after the amazing news of improvement, Domenica died. [Update: According to Merola, this was because of a seizure she had. Apparently, she collapsed and suffered massive head trauma. How this is evidence of a tumor under control, I can't fathom. It certainly does not change the fact that so many of Burzynski's "miracles" end swiftly in death.]
Domenica had many dear friends who were very supportive and by her side during her illness. She was a communicant of St. Mary’s Church and attended All Saints Parochial School. She worked at Wegman’s in Corning and enjoyed the relationships and friendships with co-workers there. Domenica was a happy, fun-loving person who enjoyed bowling, golf, movies, music, playing games, and she loved her plants.
You might think that it would be difficult to account for such a declaration of improvement followed by death, but seen in context, you see this happens a LOT. The report that “the tumor is breaking up” is one that the clinic has given many times. I wonder if the tumor was “breaking up on the inside” again, which patients have apparently been told is a good thing, but is more likely a sign that a tumor has outgrown its blood supply (ischemia). You can see it throughout this site. I think of Evan W, Justin B, Georgia M, Cody G, Leslie S, and Chase S. I think of poor Amelia S. I think of the nurse who told John D.:
“[...] she’s been there for 10 years & has seen this before & many times, the more severe symptoms that are seen as a result of the therapy is really a good sign that it’s working better.”
I feel genuinely bad for Merola. How much has he sunk into Burzynski? A lot, including a relative. He has raised money to subsidize Burzynski on his movie’s page (in appeals for his cousin, which would allow Burzynski to bill her insurance). It’s impossible to call Merola an unbiased, neutral “investigative reporter,” as he characterized himself on PBS (http://www.skeptical.gb.net/blog/?p=2401). I don’t doubt Merola is sincere, but he is also a True Believer who not only doesn’t understand the science of what is put in front of him, but doesn’t care. As he apparently sees it, there are only good guys on the side of Truth(tm) and bad guys.