Tonight we’re going to take a break from the patients who defended Burzynski in court and discuss one who advocated for him in a different way, on the Burzynski Patient Group website. Indeed, her story only ever appeared on that website, as far as we can tell.
After a few years of back pain, in September 2003, Laura L. started physical therapy because her leg was going numb. On October 11, she had an MRI and it revealed a plasmacytoma and damage to her spine. Before she even had a diagnosis, Laura’s relatives suggested that she go to the Burzynski Clinic:
We made the appointment for October 30th and flew to Houston on the 29th. My bone marrow biopsy was done on the 28th, so I didn’t know I had multiple myeloma until I was in Houston. It’s a good thing I went right away. My oncologist was worried about me leaving. He wanted me to have radiation treatments right away. I got them quickly in Texas.
First point: she had radiation, which is part of the standard treatment for this cancer. That itself makes it impossible to determine whether or not Burzynski’s treatment contributed to Laura’s care in any meaningful way.
Laura does not go on antineoplastons, rather the prodrug for them, sodium phenylbutyrate (PB), which Burzynski manufactures. She is also on a host of other drugs:
When I arrived in Houston, I had to walk with a walker. But I quit using it during the three weeks of treatment at the Burzynski Clinic. I was getting better quickly. My treatment consisted of 30 pills per day of sodium phenylbutyrate (PB), four pills per day of Aminocare A10, 200 mg. of Thalidamide, 40 mg. of dexamethasone for four days and then off for four days. I had radiation every day. I had zometta infusions and I will continue that for a couple of years to heal my bones. I get these just once a month. On the first day at the Clinic, I also had a shot of procrit, because I was so anemic.
With the exception of the PB and Aminocare supplement, both manufactured by Burzynski, so far as I can tell, there is nothing remarkable about this suite of treatments. Thalidomide is often given to MM patients, and dextramethasone is a steroid, which is another common treatment. With radiation and an only slightly abnormal combination of therapies, why does Laura think that Burzynski’s patent medicine in the mix made a difference?
In December, Laura is very near death with a high temperature and wonky sodium level which put her in the ER:
The next day, I had a chest x‐ray, which revealed that I had pneumonia in both lungs. I finally went home on Christmas day and that was a wonderful gift to me. I was very weak, though, and I had a hard time climbing stairs. I started having a lot of back pain and then my bone‐scans revealed more lesions. The Burzynski Clinic recommended I have a stem cell transplant. I was very scared, but I trusted their decision.
This sure suggests that Burzynski’s novel medicine medley had failed. Stem cell transplants are part of the normal treatment regimen for MM as well, a conventional approach. She says:
I just had the stem cell transplant and did well with that. I’ve been home since April 25th, 2004. I am not even sterile. Now, I am only taking the sodium phenylbutyrate pills and I am still getting better. The doctors who gave me my stem cell transplant were very impressed with how much I have improved since my diagnosis, how well I did with the transplant and how I am doing now. I thank God for Dr. Burzynski and his cancer treatment.
The question here is, why? Laura had every conventional treatment in the book and credits Burzynski, whose only innovation giving her almost certainly worthless (and apparently already failed) PB.
After all the conventional treatment, Laura L. lived until 2008, when she died of her disease. Sadly, the Burzynski Patient Group “disappeared” her story. How many others have disappeared from that misleading site over the years? (Quite a few, actually. We’ll remember those patients in time.)