Mistletoe Extract Being Tested as Cancer Treatment
Updated: Monday, November 4 2013, 06:36 PM EST
Every year almost eight million people around the world die of cancer, and without a cure, many patients are reaching for alternatives.
Ivelisse Page, of Reisterstown, was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2008. The cancer had also spread to her liver and she was told her chance of survival was less than eight percent.
"When I hit those moments where you think about wanting to be there for your kids' graduations, wanting to be there for your daughter's wedding; all those moments flashing before you," Page said.
Page made the bold decision to forgo chemotherapy and radiation for something else - mistletoe extract.
Mistletoe injections are widely used in Europe to treat cancer, but the alternative treatment is not approved in the United States. It is used "off label" by only a handful of physicians.
Oncologist Dr. Luis Diaz is not the doctor that prescribes mistletoe extract, but he was willing to keep an open mind. "At Johns Hopkins we've been trying many strategies to combat cancer," Dr. Diaz said. "People might say, 'not scientific, not a lot of research behind it', but there's a lot of clinical research behind it. We can't be so arrogant to think that we have all the answers because people are still dying.'"
Page was told that there was a 75% chance her cancer would return, but after almost five years, Page is still cancer free. Now, she wants to share her treatment with the world and give others "A Reason to Believe."
Page set out to do a clinical trial with the help of Dr. Diaz, but both realized it would not be easy. "I was like, Ivelisse, almost speaking slightly paternalistically, this is an expensive process it takes millions of dollars," Dr. Diaz said. Page was determined to find another way, and she did. Through her non-profit foundation "Believe Big," Page is already on her way to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Because of her efforts, we're now going to test mistletoe," Dr. Diaz said. While other doctors don't think mistletoe extract will cure cancer on its own, it may be a good compliment to other approaches.
"So many lives are cut short and I really believe that everybody deserves to have the same opportunity that I have," Page said.
Now, Page treasures the simple things in life, "Being able to hold my husband's hand or snuggle up with him at night. Watch my kids play their favorite sport see them thrive those are the moments that are my highest."
Compared to other cancer treatments, mistletoe extract is relatively cheap running about $150 a month, but it is not covered by insurance.
[Note: Mistletoe is poisonous and can kill you. This story is about mistletoe extract that should only be administered by a trained doctor.]