Sunday, March 1, 2015

Renowned Chinese-American Doctor Joins Global Effort to Heal Cancer Patients and Merge Eastern and Western Medicine

Dr. Helen Hu
If there were more doctors like Helen Hu, the world would be a better and certainly healthier place. With her vast experience in both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and modern Western medicine, Hu represents the future of all medicine, which inevitably will embrace the best from both of these disparate but essential worlds.

Raised in a traditional family in Beijing, Hu came to America nearly 25 years ago with a dream of introducing Americans to TCM, which she's studied since since she was 12. Hu, whose medical practice is in San Diego, was taught by several TCM masters who inspired her and helped her establish a strong foundation. She also gained invaluable experience at an early age by treating local farmers and villagers in the rural countryside during China's Cultural Revolution that began in 1966.

After high school, Hu shifted gears and studied Western medicine at China's prestigious Hebei Medical School, where she was able to fuse her background in TCM with the principles of the modern world. Of course, that did nothing but greatly enhance her medical technique and her ability to help patients. Hu looks at the root cause of any health condition and brings the best of both Eastern and Western disciplines, and a large dose of compassion, to her patients. And yes, I am one of them. 

Hu is also an acclaimed author whose remarkable new book, Chinese Food Therapy Rx for Self Healing (Volume I) and Chinese Food Therapy Rx for Longevity and Beauty (Volume II), provides hundreds of recipes to promote well being and beauty based on thousands of years of wisdom. The book is unquestionably the most comprehensive and pioneering work I've read in terms of educating the public about natural healing with food, and coaching people to achieve the ultimate goal of longevity and a healthy mind, body and spirit. Yes, folks, listen to Dr. Hu: Food really can save your life and even fight and prevent cancer.

Lymphoma On The Rise In China
Hu's vast knowledge of China's healthcare system and its people, as well as her awareness of modern advances in cancer treatment, will be of great value to me as we begin the next phase of my professional life: to inform and inspire lymphoma patients and their families in China and then, subsequently, worldwide. It's a profound and rather daunting mission, but it's something for which I believe I am qualified. For the past 15 years I've been a global lymphoma patient advocate. I've spoken to and informed and hopefully inspired thousands of cancer patients and their families, including people in China and around the world.

I can tell you with certainty that the Chinese people are hungry for more knowledge when it comes to diseases such as cancer. I can also tell you that, from what I have seen, healthcare professionals in China, including oncologists, are just as eager to get this information to the Chinese people. As I mentioned on this news blog recently, the incidence of lymphoma, the type of cancer I've battled for the last 18 years, is increasing by more than six percent each year in China. The person who has shared this information with the media is Dr. Zhu Jun, director of the Beijing Cancer Hospital's lymphoma department. 

But this information still isn't widely known among the Chinese people, who are very familiar with certain types of cancer including lung cancer, but not so much with lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's). Jun told the South China Morning Post that knowledge of lymphoma even among many doctors in China is minimal. And I just want to change that. And apparently so do China's leading doctors.

A recent epidemiology survey concluded that lymphoma is now the ninth most common cancer among Chinese males on the mainland. That's still not quite as high as the United States, where lymphoma is the seventh most common cancer in males and females. But it is increasing rapidly, and that's cause for concern. 

Much of the future lymphoma research in China will and should revolve around lymphoma. Researchers are seeing an especially significant and alarming increase in the disease among China's young people in urban areas. Lymphoma experts in China attribute that largely to environmental pollution. And that's not a surprise. As I reported for Newsweek, China's air remains dangerously polluted, especially in Beijing and other major cities.

The Project's First Phase
A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and frightening. But it can also be challenging in a positive way and even enlightening and uplifting, especially if you are aware of all your treatment options. A cancer diagnosis certainly makes you appreciate the precious gift that is your life and the loving family and friends who we should never take for granted.

My goal is to spread this simple but vital message of hope and knowledge globally. The project begins by sharing information with the Chinese people via the existing healthcare operations and organizations in China, as well as exporting China's vast knowledge of both TCM and modern medicine to the rest of the world.

My colleague on this project is Jack Craciun III, an American-educated China specialist and CEO and chairman of ITM (US) Ltd., a prestigious global marketing organization whose primary focus is China. Jack has spent much of his life in China embracing multicultural projects that benefit all of mankind, and he has a deep understanding of integrative medicine and the need in China and across the world for more information about how to fight cancer. Our hope is that this project simply facilitates a new conversation in China about lymphoma.

The first phase will include the distribution of translated editions of both of my books, Hope Begins in the Dark and Snowman on the Pitcher's Mound, in China. The "Hope" book, which chronicles the lives of 40 lymphoma survivors, will be updated to include the life stories of lymphoma survivors in China.

That first phase will also will include exporting my music to China, including my life-affirming songs of hope and survival featuring such legendary music artists as Peter Frampton, Charlie Daniels, and founding members of The Eagles, Chicago, The Beach Boys family, The Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers and more.

The project will also include the distribution of informational pamphlets to lymphoma patients in China and their families telling them about the disease and about currently available as well as forthcoming treatments, both from the pharmaceutical side and the TCM side.

Helen Hu's Work to Merge East and West
My partnership with Dr. Hu and Jack Craciun and others will ideally lead to positive outcomes for patients in China and around the world. I just want to help people who are suffering and have a desire to learn more about their options and about ways of coping when you receive a cancer diagnosis.

The other simple but powerful message I want to send is that it is imperative moving forward that we embrace all sides of medicine, from what is currently looked upon in some circles as "traditional" to what is currently looked upon in some circles as "alternative." Whatever works is what I want in my regimen. I've beaten back stage IV cancer three times in the last two decades with this philosophy.

Many doctors in America still turn their noses up at anything holistic or not drug-based. Many absurdly dismiss any and all herbs and supplements because they are not monitored by the FDA. But those days are changing. American doctors like Hu and, to some degree, my doctors at the University of California San diego -- some of them, anyway -- thankfully embrace both sides of this divide. And more will, soon. The writing is on the wall. 

While practicing Western medicine in China for nearly a decade, Hu became chairman of the Department of Cardiology at Hebei Hospital, as well as the president of the Hebei Young Physicians’ Association. After arriving in the States in 1991, she began conducting clinical research on Cancer and other autoimmune diseases, and also become involved in a variety of clinical trials that were published in several renowned academic journals. 

In 1997 she passed the USMLE (United States Medical License Exams) and subsequently began to formally study the practice of Chinese medicine. Hu graduated with a degree in Oriental Medicine (OMD) at South Baylo University and became a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist on both the National and State of California Boards of Acupuncture and Herbology.

In ancient times, Hu says, people lived closer to nature, in more integrated communities. Over thousands of years, through observation and by surviving many diseases and natural disasters, they "discovered how various foods promoted longevity and well being. Many of these longevity-promoting foods and herbs have been recorded in the history of Chinese medicine. Since food and herbs come from the same source, the principle of healing power in the herbs applies to the whole nature of food."

New Cancer Treatment Studies in China
Hu's goal is to "educate and guide her readers to choose the right foods and treatments from TCM and Western medicine." That's our goal, too. It is significant that despite the lack of awareness of lymphoma among many of China's people and even many of its doctors, China has recently established a number of interesting partnerships with United States drug companies to fight lymphoma, and other cancers, with new, less toxic drugs as well as with aspects of TCM:

ChinaBioToday reports that Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG), a joint China-US cell therapy company, has acquired a cancer immunotherapy technology from the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing. This will lead to further development in China of this therapy, which has shown great promise in early trials for Hodgkin's lymphoma as well as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and advanced lung cancer. 


* The Beijing Cancer Hospital I mentioned above, which is one of the largest cancer research and treatment centers in China, is establishing partnerships with such prestigious American cancer institutions as MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

* Innovent, one of China's largest biotechs, is studying eight antibody products, including one for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

* And as China Economic Net recently reported, two Chinese scientists, Wang Zhenyi and Chen Zhu, won a top U.S. award recently by the U.S. National Foundation for Cancer Research for creating a remarkable new treatment that combines Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Western medicine. The new therapy increased the five-year survival rate of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) from 25 percent to 95 percent. In clinical trials, the Chinese researchers showed that arsenic trioxide, which has been used in TCM regimens for more than 2,000 years, is effective against APL. The treatment is now a standard for APL treatment around the world, China Economic Net reported, and "has turned one of the most fatal diseases into a highly curable one."

These and other studies show that China is becoming a real player in the global treatment of cancer, both with TCM and with modern Western-style medicine. The country clearly has one foot firmly planted now in the world of modern healthcare. But the other foot remains ensconced in its ancient healing traditions. And that's a good thing. 

We can learn a lot from China's ancient healing methods, and its modern medical ventures. And China and its 1.3 billion people can of course learn much from us. That is the future of medicine. Working together with some of the oldest and newest ways of healing. Many more people will be saved.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Global Alliance with Marketing and Philanthropic Firm Expected to Benefit China's Cancer Patients

Kai-Fu Lee, Google China's founder, still battling lymphoma cancer
In the fall of 2013, Kai-Fu Lee, the Chinese venture capitalist best known for his role as founding president of Google China and his work with Apple, announced that he had lymphoma. The shock among the 50 million people who read his popular blog demonstrated that information about this common and often treatable cancer globally is still scarce.

In China, a country with more than 1.3 billion people, the incidence of lymphoma is increasing by more than six percent each year, according to Dr. Zhu Jun, director of the Beijing Cancer Hospital's lymphoma department. But that is not widely known. Jun told the South China Morning Post that knowledge of the disease even among doctors in China is sketchy.


A recent epidemiology survey concluded that lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's) is now the ninth most common cancer among Chinese males on the mainland. That's still not quite as high, percentage-wise, as the United States, where lymphoma is the seventh most common cancer in males as well as females. But it is on the rise, and that's cause for concern.


Researchers are seeing an especially significant increase in the disease among China's young people in urban areas. Lymphoma experts in China attribute that largely to environmental pollution. And that's no surprise. As I reported for Newsweek, China's air remains dangerously polluted, especially in Beijing and other major cities. 



While China is embracing solar power and other clean energies on the one hand, it is still filling the skies with toxic pollutants on the other. And unless and until this is reversed, the rate of lymphoma and other cancers will continue to rise. 

Thankfully, China is stepping up its efforts to educate its citizens about this type of cancer. A clinical diagnosis and treatment guideline was issued jointly a few years ago by the Chinese Society of Hematology under the Chinese Medical Association and the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association


But it appears that a lot of China's resident to this point still don't have a good understanding of just what lymphoma is. To be honest, I didn't know much about it, either, until I was diagnosed with it in late 1996. My original oncologist told me I had stage IV follicular low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- a very common type, I would come to learn -- and that I'd be fortunate to live three years. 


But 18 years later, I'm happily still here. And the most meaningful goal in my life now is to help others win this fight, too, whether they're in San Diego or Shanghai. 


I'm about to embark on an ambitious project to increase awareness of lymphoma in China, to tell cancer patients in China about their treatment options and assist them as best I can with the psycho-social aspects of being diagnosed. None of these things are currently available to people in the world's largest country.

Hope and the ITM Group


My battle with cancer, which has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, is chronicled in my book, Hope Begins in the Dark, which I'm proud to say has become embraced globally. Why? I guess because of my very simple but true message: There is hope! But also because the world isn't as aware of the disease as it should be.


The book profiles 40 lymphoma survivors, including such famous folks as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Chicago Cubs All-Star slugger Anthony Rizzo. In the book we talk with survivors openly about what treatments each person chose, how each of us dealt with the psychological impact of being diagnosed with cancer and what it's like to face possible death, how it affected our children and families, and much more.


China, like so many nations around the world, is just beginning to understand all of these dynamics. China's people, so many of whom are very poor and without access to the Internet or even television, are just beginning to understand how treatable many cancers are and just what is available for them.


Since my cancer diagnosis and subsequent recurrences, I've committed myself to finding and helping people who don't generally have access to this type of information and yet want to be informed, inspired and reminded that cancer is not a death sentence. And it isn't! Not any more!



There is obviously a hunger in China, and across the world, for information about how to fight cancer. To that end, I've established an alliance with Jack Craciun III, an American-educated China specialist and CEO and chairman of ITM (US) Ltd., a prestigious global marketing organization whose primary focus is China.

Craciun, who's spent many years in China and has an impressive history of initiating and managing global cross-cultural projects, is, like me, determined to inform, inspire and assist cancer patients and their kids, in China and around the world. 


Our partnership will hopefully lead to positive outcomes for people who are suffering and have a deep desire to learn more about their options and about ways of coping when you receive a cancer diagnosis. It can be overwhelming, believe me. And scary as hell. But also uplifting. And it makes you appreciate the precious gift that is our life.


Eastern Medicine / Western Medicine


I'm happy to report that there are a bunch of new and less toxic treatments for lymphoma developed by American and European drug companies and biotech firms that did not exist when I was first diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1996. And still others are in late-stage clinical trials.


Meanwhile, China is becoming an increasingly important part of this and has established a number of exciting partnerships with United States drug companies to fight this disease. It was reported this week by ChinaBioToday that Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG), a China-US cell therapy company, acquired a cancer immunotherapy technology from the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing. 


This purchase will lead to further development in China of this therapy, which has shown great promise in early trials for Hodgkin's lymphoma as well as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and advanced lung cancer. 



Another prominent cancer hospital in China, the Beijing Cancer Hospital I mentioned above, which is one of the largest cancer research and treatment centers in China, is establishing partnerships with such prestigious American cancer institutions as MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

And if that weren't enough, Innovent, one of China's largest biotechs, recently announced that it has raised the needed capital to continue studying eight antibody products, including one for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Innovent CEO Michael Yu, reportedly the only Chinese national to have invented and developed two biologic drugs, recently told PharmaExec.com that the Chinese regulatory environment has improved greatly. That's good news for cancer patients and research.

Wait, there's even more. As China Economic Net recently reported, two Chinese scientists, Wang Zhenyi and Chen Zhu, won a top U.S. award recently by the U.S. National Foundation for Cancer Research for creating a remarkable new treatment that combines Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Western medicine. 


The new therapy increased the five-year survival rate of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) from 25 percent to 95 percent. In clinical trials, the Chinese researchers showed that arsenic trioxide, which has been used in TCM regimens for more than 2,000 years, is effective against APL.


The treatment is now a standard for APL treatment around the world, China Economic Net reported, and "has turned one of the most fatal diseases into a highly curable one."

These and other examples show that China is becoming a legitimate player in the treatment of cancer. The country clearly has one foot firmly planted now in the world of modern medicine. But the other foot remains ensconced in its ancient healing traditions. And that's a good thing. 


As I've said many times since I was diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago, we can learn a lot from China's ancient healing methods, as well as its modern medical ventures. And China can of course learn so much from us.


It's all about cooperation. It's all about sharing the best from both worlds, both cultures. And that extends far beyond healthcare. It also includes art, music, literature and so much more. This is something Craciun has brilliantly done for decades. Seemingly effortlessly -- though I know it took great effort -- he's brought these two disparate cultures together. And the opportunities to do that now are greater than ever.


China or Bust


When my cancer returned for the first time back in 1999, I planned a fact-finding trip to China, where I was going to study Traditional Chinese Medicine. But I never made that trip. Instead, I was saved by a combination of Western and Eastern modalities. 


Much to the dismay of my former oncologist, who was allegedly renown but frankly clueless, I enrolled in a stage III clinical trial for Bexxar, a radio-immunotherapy drug developed by an American doctor and researcher named Mark Kaminski at the University of Michigan. The drug saved my life. Mark is a genius and I owe such a debt of gratitude to him.


But I also embraced alternative medicine, including a variety of immune system-boosting supplements and other things that American doctors generally don't endorse. I took something called DCA, which I've written about on this news blog before and which saved the life of my very close friend Tim McGough, who has fought the same type of lymphoma as me and who is profiled in my book. 


I was and remain an avid user of Chinese herbs, too, which have shown to be effective for some patients in boosting immune system activity and fighting lymphoma. 


And then there's acupuncture, which of course is part of the Chinese medical approach that has been around for thousands of years. There is no evidence that acupuncture actually directly kills the tumors, at least not of which I am aware. But according to Everyday Health, acupuncture is a scientifically proven way of relieving many lymphoma symptoms and side effects of treatment. 


That includes everything from pain, fatigue, depression and nausea to stomach discomfort, immunity levels and more.


For me, battling lymphoma has always been about loading up your arsenal with as many weapons as possible. And that means culling the best from the East and the West. The combined use of Western and Chinese medicines in the treatment of lymphoma, and all cancers, bears further investigation in the United States.


One of my primary life goals now is to spread this gospel of embracing the best of both Western and Eastern medicine. I just want to help as many cancer patients and their families as I can to enjoy a better quality of life. With information. Inspiration. Whatever they need. Because cancer is treatable, and beatable. You can win this fight!