SAVING MY SON: SURVIVING CANCER
By Jenny (Virginia) Hauf
About the Author.....................................................4
In November 1990, Virginia Hauf’s son, Steve, complains of double vision. An ophthalmologist examines Steve, but finds no problems with his eyes. Further tests are given to determine the cause of the trouble, and doctors find a tumor at the base of Steve’s brain; the tumor proves to be cancerous. The doctors decide to perform surgery, which runs the risk of paralyzing him for life. When they go in to remove the tumor, they find two masses, one of which has invaded his brain stem and is inoperable. Tissue samples are sent to the Mayo Clinic; the tumors are fast-growing and incurable. With the exception of experimental radiation and chemotherapy—which would likely only extend Steve’s life by thirty days—the doctors can offer nothing. They estimate he has about three months to live and send him home with his mother, telling her to cherish the time he has left. Virginia is notified that the man she has been having a relationship with has been involved in a murder and has taken his own life as well.
Needless to say, Steve’s family is devastated; Virginia, determined not to let her son die, begins doing research. She discovers that the type of chemotherapy offered to Steve will not pass the blood–brain barrier and is therefore useless; radiation would only incapacitate him. Virginia presses on.
She recalls a family friend once telling her that nature held a cure for every disease, so she goes to the library to research Laetrile, a controversial cancer treatment unavailable in the United States and labeled “quackery” by the American Cancer Society in the early 1970s. In a book published during that time, Virginia finds a listing of a doctor who uses Laetrile in his treatments; she locates his clinic in Mexico and decides to bring Steve there.
Because Steve’s treatment is unconventional, Virginia’s health insurance will not cover any of its cost; she’s on her own. A single parent, she finds it difficult to procure the money she needs to fund Steve’s treatment, which includes injections of a Laetrile-based serum, vitamins, and a macrobiotic diet. Her family assists them and Steve’s school runs a fundraiser. Amazingly, many people rally to their side, and Virginia and Steve manage to gather enough money to pay for treatment. They spend six surreal weeks at a Mexican clinic where they are in the company of a cosmetic mogul, an editor of fitness magazine, and a U.S. senator and his son—all of whom are receiving care.
Following therapy in Mexico, Virginia takes Steve for an MRI and finds that his tumor is shrinking. But soon after, she is arrested for child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, mail fraud, and wire fraud. She has been issued a summons to testify at a childhood classmate’s murder trial, a serial killer.
After being threatened, losing her job, and being contacted by hundreds of families seeking advice and similar treatment, Virginia has decided to share her story in this 75,000-word manuscript, Saving My Son: Surviving Cancer. Virginia’s son, Steve, is 32 now and has been cancer-free for 14 years.
Saving My Son: Surviving Cancer tells the story of millions suffering cancer for which there isn’t a cure or effective treatment. The book is written to appeal to those afflicted by the disease, family members and friends, and interested readers who may not have any experience with cancer survival. The book will also interest health care providers and those working directly with cancer patients.
Anyone who has been in the position of seeking treatment for cancer will find a familiar and inspiring perspective in this narrative. The author has lived through the terror, the limits of our health-care system and available cancer treatments, the politics and controversy, and has found, in the end, the gift of survival.
Sales figures on books about cancer survival and alternative treatments, especially those written as narrative nonfiction, show that a strong readership exists for this book.
Racing to a Cure: A Cancer Victim Refuses Chemotherapy and Finds Tomorrow's Cures in Today's Scientific Laboratories, Neil P. Ruzic
University of Illinois Press; hardcover; 7/2003; 464 pages; $19.95.
Patient Number One : A True Story of How One CEO Took on Cancer and Big Business in the Fight of His Life, Rick Murdock, David Fisher
Crown; hardcover; 5/2000; 320 pages; $24.95.
Jason Winter’s Story: Killing Cancer, in Search of the Perfect Cleanse, Breakthrough, the Ultimate Combination, Jason Winters
Vinton Publishing Company; hardcover; 6/91; 361 pages; $24.00.
This author’s books have sold over 13 million copies; featured on Paramount’s “Sightings” television show.
Alive & Well: One Doctor's Experience with Nutrition in the Treatment of Cancer Patients, Philip E. Binzel
Batus; paperback; 10/94; 144 pages; $16.95.
His record of success is astounding. He tells of his ongoing battle with the medical establishment, but this is primarily the story of his alive-and-well patients, many of whom had been told by their previous doctors that they had only a few months to live.
Torrey’s Miracle: A Matter of Choice, Margaret Berger Morse
Authorhouse; hardcover; 6/01; 104 pages; $24.00.
I Beat Cancer: 50 People Tell You How They Did It, various authors
Awareness Publishing; paperback; 6/03; 192 pages; $19.95.
Conclusion: Saving My Son: Surviving Cancer will break new ground by providing public education about alternative cancer treatment through suspenseful, vivid, first-person narration. Saving My Son reveals the experiences of those affected by and those suffering from cancer in a system where treatment is limited and often dangerous. The book has both screen and bestseller potential and, due to the proven readership for its subject, will make an important contribution to the ongoing dialogue about complementary and unconventional treatments. Saving My Son should enjoy strong sales for years to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a member of the Cancer Control Society, Virginia has responded to thousands of telephone calls, letters, and e-mails from cancer patients and families seeking alternative treatments. Virginia’s has also given referrals and information to those seeking alternative therapies for a wide variety of illnesses, including AIDS, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and various heart ailments.
Virginia As has been interviewed by several widely read publications, including Newsweek, People, the Herald Palladium, the Tri-City Record, the Louisville Journal, the San Diego Times, and the South Bend Tribune. She has also been a guest on several local radio programs to discuss Steve’s treatment.
Summary: The author is a proven advocate and public speaker with a strong desire to bring cancer treatment options to the forefront of the country’s public health agenda. Because of her large network of key contacts in the field, Virginia is often invited to speak around the country.
Virginia is prepared to do a book tour for Saving My Son: Surviving Cancer, as well as book signings before and after all speaking engagements and media events.
Virginia is currently developing a Web site to help others seek alternative treatments. When Saving My Son: Surviving Cancer is published, the book will be made available for purchase through the site.
Summary: The author will promote sales of Saving My Son through her Web site, public speaking engagements, articles, excerpts from the book, national television, and radio.
Virginia and her son, Steve, are at the Immune Augmentive Treatment Center in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico. Steve isn’t aware that he was given a prognosis by U.S. doctors that he has three months to live. Virginia has researched this clinic and its therapies and decided on an alternative and controversial treatment for Steve’s cancer. This is the most difficult decision Virginia has ever had to make. The reader is drawn into the surreal scene at the Tijuana clinic and the strange workings of a medical system providing treatment that is banned in the U.S.
Treatments available in the United States have failed Steve. The author describes what sent her researching alternative treatments for her son. From his diagnosis to his prognosis of three months to live, the author feels she has been offered little hope and details her reasons for bringing her son to Mexico.
The author describes what is involved in Steve’s treatment at the Mexican clinic, where she and her son spend six weeks. She is both surprised and comforted by the presence of prominent Americans at the clinic, among them a U.S. senator and his son, an editor of a popular fitness magazine, and a cosmetics mogul. Steve’s condition begins to improve dramatically. For the first time, there is hope.
Life for Virginia and her son has been going surprisingly well. However, they encounter an abrupt change when they attempt to cross the border back into the United States with Steve’s serum. From there on, questions begin, hundreds of calls come in to Virginia’s home from cancer sufferers all over the world, including one from the royal Saudi family, as well as the media.
Virginia takes Steve back to his regular doctor in the U.S. for an MRI. The medical team conducting the exam is confused. The tests show that Steve’s tumor has shrunk significantly. They test Steve again, this time with a different machine (believing the first one wasn’t operating properly), but obtain the same results. They ask Virginia about Steve regimen, then tell her, “just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Virginia meets with Steve’s surgeon, who believes the shrinkage is due to spontaneous remission, and therefore that his improvement won’t continue. She explains that Steve has been receiving specialized treatment in Mexico. The surgeon warns Virginia that Laetrile a waste of her money and time.
Virginia is forced to resign from her job. She has faced enormous financial obstacles as a single parent. Steve’s treatment has been miraculous, but their relationship is strained. Steve no longer wants to maintain his rigid diet or take daily injections of the serum; he wants to be a normal teenager again. Virginia must learn to trust that Steve’s recovery is going to last and begin to find ways to return to their lives.
Shortly after her visit with Steve’s surgeon, a warrant is issued for Virginia’s arrest on counts of child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Virginia talks with her attorney and a plea bargain is offered, but Virginia refuses to make a deal.
Before turning herself in, Virginia begins receiving threats at her home, takes part in a fundraiser that goes bad, and makes an emergency trip to Mexico after a scare that the FDA is going to shut down the Immune Augmentive Therapy Clinic. The clinic must keep moving to hidden locations, but it keeps Virginia informed of its whereabouts. At the same time Virginia turns herself in, U.S. authorities arrest the Mexican doctor who has been treating Steve.
The charges against Virginia are dropped; she is encouraged to refrain from talking to the press about Steve’s story. She defiantly continues to accept calls from people all around the world seeking help.
Over the course of five years, Steve continues to undergo MRIs. The tumor is still shrinking and, in 1993, only scar tissue is left. He is proclaimed free from his cancer.
Life returns to normal. Steve goes off to college and gets married; Virginia returns to school as well. She and Steve find their way back to trusting in the future, and making peace with the past.
The author reflects on the decisions she was forced to make to save her son’s life. She comments on the current state of available cancer treatments in the U.S. and describes how Steve is doing today.
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