I have a friend who recently lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. Over the past year, I followed each event on his health care journey doing my best to offer love and support. As his tumor marker numbers went up and down, the constant rollercoaster became very stressful. The chemo worked for a while and then it stopped, that's when we knew his time was short.
When the doctor told them there was nothing more he could do, they became desperate for a cure, and who wouldn't? There's an innate desire for survival in all of us. I wasn't shocked when they said they were willing to try anything but when the doctor mentioned a clinical trial using a deworming medication used on dogs, I was dumbfounded.
Panacur, the brand name for pet strength medication, Fenbenzadrole, is used for ridding animals of parasites but apparently, some doctors are finding it to be a possible treatment for cancer.
When we received the call that Jack wasn't doing well and wasn't expected to make it through the end of the week, we immediately went to visit. We wanted him to know that we loved and supported him, that we would be there for his wife in the future. That visit was very difficult. When we arrived, it was evident his physical condition had greatly declined and he was indeed on his death bed. Though he did his best to communicate, the strong doses of morphine made him too sleepy to stay awake. As he lay in the recliner resting, I noticed a package of Panacur on the side table. When his wife saw me looking at it, she explained the doctor had told them about a clinical trial and suggested they try it as a last attempt at a cure. I had mixed feelings about it but kept them to myself.
In the car, on the way home, I told my husband about my concerns. I didn't understand how Jack's wife could give him a strong, antiparasitic medication when he was in such terrible shape. His belly was bloated from the cancer and he was unable to eat. How could he swallow a pill that was going to wreak havoc on his system like that? And how could she encourage him to take it?
Every person with cancer has to fight it in his/her own way. I understand and respect that but when does one draw the line at ending treatment? I imagine, if I was stage 4 and had no other recourse for a cure, I might try an off the wall remedy, but I'd hope I'd have sense enough to do some research before accepting anything the doctor threw my way.
Maybe I was appalled at the thoughts of my friend, a person I loved and cared about, being treated with a medication for dogs or maybe it was just the thought of him taking it and becoming violently ill on top of what he was already going through, I don't know.
More than likely, we'll never find a cure for cancer. There's too much money in Big Pharma to ever hope for that. Wouldn't it be nice if someone stumbled upon a helpful option through trial and error, something so simple and so benign that people would shake their heads and say, "Wow! We had this all along!"
I'm all about science and understand many medical discoveries have come to us through trial and error, but it doesn't seem right to play around with human lives.
My friend, Jack, died 5 days after we visited him. It was a great loss and I'll always wonder if perhaps the Panacur contributed to or hastened his death but I can't bring myself to mention it to Jack's wife. I know it would be too painful.