Travel is Not for Everyone

The major advantage of incorporating a visit to a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)-oriented clinic into your cancer treatment plan is that these specialized clinics generally offer a wider (and different) repertoire of treatments than is available at home. In some countries (particularly Germany and Mexico) the regulatory environment allows the doctor to use a broader array of unconventional treatments than is generally the case in English-speaking countries. But don’t forget that, however carefully you prepare for it, going to a foreign clinic is bound to be an adventure. There are often language and other cultural challenges to overcome.

Being Realistic

  • “Individuals facing imminent death need to develop treatments capable of keeping them alive long enough to benefit from the next generation of breakthrough agents.”
    —Former NCI director Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. (paraphrased), 2015
  • (Quoted in Allison JP. Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Therapy: The 2015 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. JAMA 2015 September 8;1113-5)

Be realistic about your situation. Avoid traveling to a foreign clinic if you are acutely ill, or close to being so. Early in our career, we had a friend who made the journey to Germany for treatments that were not available in the U.S. Soon after she arrived, however, she wound up in a local German hospital where few of the staff spoke English. She never got the CAM treatments she sought and managed to make it home only with great difficulty. This experience proved emotionally traumatic and expensive for the family and eye-opening for us.

Despite blandishments from a few commercially driven websites, which promise miracle cures within weeks, foreign cancer clinics are not wonder workers and their treatments are not for everyone!