Aunt Mel was watching television and stumbled upon a show (which I'm suspecting was an infomercial) which offered a possible cure for cancer. On a very small test group (25 people or thereabouts), it helped ease pain in many and allegedly cured the cancer in half of the patients. Needless to say, they are eager to try this with Grandpa. There is a book out, The Calcium Factor, which Mom managed to procure. Uncle Rich asked me to look it over and compare notes tomorrow (later today).
A few quick notes: Aunt Mel called Grandpa's oncologist, and according to her the oncologist said the chemo isn't working, so to go ahead with the plan. They have already bought and started giving Grandpa the calcium tablets, and a sun lamp and some cesium are supposed to arrive tomorrow. Gerry is procuring a chemical which Andy can pronounce and I can't spell, which apparently is to be applied topically in the areas where there's pain.
While I did skim the book briefly, most of my time online was trying to find anything about this miracle. I was primarily looking for debunking, preferably from trustworthy sources. My basic conclusions are as follows: The stuff is not actively harmful. It's expensive and there is one oft-mentioned but never-cited article supposedly published in the JAMA, but its actual results are never mentioned. In short, as far as I can tell, there's no reason to believe that it will help Grandpa.
Based on those results, here is what I'm planning on doing. I will mention to Uncle Rich and Mom that I am skeptical, but that I hope it works. I will tell Grandpa that my next planned visit is for the weekend of Feb 7th; his birthday. If the new treatment comes up in conversation with Grandpa, I'll smile and nod. If Pamela asks, I may voice my doubts, but I don't think she will.
My reasoning is as follows: as far as I can tell, the treatment will not harm Grandpa any further. Since the chemo isn't working, it's not like he'll be taken off of a real cure to chase this one -- two weeks ago we were told it wasn't working, so I don't doubt that part of the conversation with the oncologist. The only real concerns I could find in various debunking websites were that there's no proof it works and that it parts people with a large amount of their money. I don't really think anyone will want to be convinced of the former, and as for the latter, well, the money has already been spent... asking me about this was an afterthought at best. And, finally, some part of me dearly wishes this would work. Even if it "only" eases the pain, I'll be happy. If he ends up living long enough to attend Sandy's wedding (which she pushed up by a year so he could attend) I'll be ecstatic. To be honest, I wouldn't care if the prolonging agent was Pixie Dust: if it gives Grandpa a few relatively painless months (or even a relatively painless final N weeks), it's worth it.
I don't know whether this is all rationalization; I'm too tired to tell if my decision not to say very much is due to not wanting to put up a fight when they've already decided or because I don't want to dash their hopes or whatever. I don't think that telling them I think it's false hope will be productive, and I have no idea now if false hope in the short run will be any worse than cold hard truth. Maybe I am rationalizing. Anyway, I will expect him to live for the month or so he's been given, and not much longer, if at all. If, somehow, this 33-day regimen stops or even seems to get rid of some of the cancer, maybe I'll try it for my diabetes. I fully expect that if it fails, my family will figure it's because Grandpa was a stubborn old goat and refused to use the treatment, much as he's still refusing to eat as much as he should. Finally, I don't think he's ready quite yet to give up; after all, he still wanted chemo.