In November of 1985, at the age of 4, my son Paul was diagnosed with an inoperable optic-hypothalamic glioma astrocytoma Grade I (brain tumor). Paul underwent a craniotomy, but no tumor could be removed because it was so entwined in the tissue. Thanks to a skillful surgeon, Paul suffered no impairment from the surgery. Paul's symptoms also were greatly relieved by implantation of a shunt that reduced the pressure in his skull. During the surgery, a biopsy specimen was obtained. The only treatment option we were given was radiation.
It was November, and although we pleaded, the doctors did not want to begin radiation therapy until after Christmas. During the time between surgery and the holidays, my husband called a friend of his who is a neurosurgeon. He gave us the names of radiologists whom he felt were the best. My husband talked to many of them and most candidly told him there was not a lot to be gained by subjecting Paul to radiation, but there was a lot to lose. After learning about the side effects radiation, such as blindness, lowered IQ, stunted growth, hearing loss, and so on, we decided to do nothing rather than to do more harm than good.
It had been repeatedly stressed to us that radiation was in no way a cure for Paul. We sent Paul's scans and medical records to many major medical centers, such as the University of Michigan and the Mayo Clinic. We were given no hope for Paul's survival. We were told that it was not likely Paul would live to see age 10.
Paul tried the Macrobiotic diet and laetrile, but neither helped. His tumor continued to grow. Just when it seemed that there was nothing and no one who could help Paul, I saw Dr. Burzynski on Sally Jessy Raphael. That show changed everything. We tried calling the Burzynski Clinic but the line was busy continually. So, we sent Paul's scans and other medical records to Houston. About a week later we received a call from the Clinic saying that Paul was a candidate for treatment.
A few days later, in April of 1987, when Paul was 7 years old, we went to see Dr. Burzynski. The Clinic was very busy, yet it was apparent how much Dr. Burzynski and his wife Barbara cared about their patients. We finally had found a doctor who told us that Paul's situation was not hopeless. Dr. Burzynski said he would try to help Paul with antineoplastons. We were afraid to believe this therapy might work because so many doctors had told us that any hope we had was false hope. But because we were told there were few, if any, bad side effects, we felt this was just the chance we were looking for: A treatment that could help Paul without causing him permanent, irreparable harm.
Paul's progress was very slow on antineoplastons. Back then, we didn't have the portable pumps. He got his medicine from a bag hung on a IV pole. After a few months, we finally got a report from the University of Michigan that said there was a decrease in the size of the tumor! It seemed the impossible had happened. As we got more and more good reports, we started to feel like normal people again. I no longer felt I had to make every day and every experience perfect for Paul's sake. I began to feel that he would likely see another summer, another Thanksgiving, birthday, whatever. The pressure to make everything perfect just in case it was the last, was lifted. What a relief! Since then, slowly but surely, Paul's tumor has gone from being very large to a tiny spot on the MRI scans. We thank God every day for Dr. Burzynski and his treatment.
Paul is now in 12th grade, 18 years old, and getting ready to graduate from high school! He is healthy, strong, and a joy to be around. He is still on treatment in capsule form. He is "neurologically normal in every way." Paul would not be normal if he had received conventional treatment, even if it were able to cure him. Paul does well in school, although he would rather be anywhere else.
Paul doesn't waste time. He rarely watches TV. He is always busy. I think he feels that time is a wonderful resource and not to be wasted. His hobbies are working on cars, woodworking, and gardening. He lifts weights, goes water skiing, goes fishing, and plays paintball.
Paul has his regular blood tests performed at a cancer center. He sees the children who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments that are rough on them. He always says he wishes those children could go to Dr. Burzynski, too. I am so glad that antineoplaston therapy is nontoxic.
Paul and our whole family (Kenny and I, and Paul's brothers, Kevin, aged 21, and Mark, aged 15) are very grateful that we found Dr. Burzynski. We feel that without him and his antineoplastons we would not have Paul with us. We love Paul so much, and we wish that every family that faces a situation like this could have the opportunity to choose the treatment that offers the best chance for complete recovery. We look forward to the day when antineoplastons are FDA-approved and available everywhere.
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
September 25, 1991
I had the pleasure of seeing your patient, Paul Michaels, on September 11, 1991. Paul's past medical history is quite detailed, and I will review it briefly.
Paul was well until November 1985 (age 4-1/2 years) when he developed double vision and lethargy. A neurologic workup was performed and a midline epithalamic/3rd ventricular tumor was identified. He was shunted in November 1985, and Dr. Canady performed a craniotomy as well. Biopsy results showed a grade I astrocytoma. Radiation treatment was recommended, but Mr. and Mrs. Michaels preferred to attempt alternative treatments. At first Paul was placed on a macrobiotic diet, then followed by laetrile, obtained in Mexico. The MRI showed an increase in the size of Paul's tumor.
In April 1988, the family was seen by Dr. Burzynski, an oncologist in the Houston, Texas, area. Dr. Burzynski practices outside "ordinary" medical circles but does have a cancer institute and treats patients with polypeptide substances knows as antineoplastons. Paul has been placed on [antineoplaston] A10, 600 cc every 24 hours, and [antineoplaston] AS2-1, 300 cc every 24 hours, which he receives by continuous IV infusion. Paul is seen by Burzynski every few months. A review of the MRI scans indicate that the tumor actually has shrunk over the last 3 years of treatment. According to the parents, Dr. Burzynski feels that everything is going well, although Paul has had some recent joint pain due to an increase in serum uric acid content. He was placed on allopurinol.
Paul's vision is followed by Dr. Cohn, who has determined that his vision remains normal in both eyes.
Paul's neurologic examination is entirely normal. Again, review of his MRI scan shows a 2-cm hypothalamic mass. This tumor is smaller than on previous studies, and it appears to have been shrinking since the antineoplaston therapy was started in 1988.
I have recommended to the family that Paul receive eye examinations every 6 months and MRI scans every 3 to 6 months. I am personally not knowledgeable about the antineoplaston therapy Paul is receiving, but I do know it falls outside of the standard care practices followed by pediatric oncologists and neuro-oncologists in the major children's cancer study groups. However, the therapy being given seems to be working, and I would not under any circumstances recommend changing the therapy unless Dr. Burzynski first gave his approval. I did discuss with the family the approach we take to this type of tumor in 1991, specifically, improved radiation techniques as well as the use of actinomycin-D and vincristine chemotherapy.... As I advised, they will continue their oncology care with Dr. Burzynski. Mr. and Mrs. Michaels should feel free to call me at any time with questions or concerns.
please do not hesitate to call me if I can can answer any further questions.
Bruce H. Cohen, MD
Paul is now off treatment!
UPDATE by Paul Michaels January 2016
My name is Paul Michaels. I am sending you an update on
me. I went into remission at age 19. I am 34 years old now. I am doing fine, I
still have no side effects from the treatment. I am an emergency room nurse and
a personal trainer. In my spare time I like to workout, rock climb and mountain
UPDATE by Mary Michaels, March 2008
Paul is 27 years old today. He is attending nursing school full-time, and will earn a BSN. This will be his second bachelor's degree. Paul is a certified personal trainer. He works at the YMCA and at the fitness center at Oakland University. Paul works out regularly and is very health conscious. In the fall, he also works long hours at a cider mill. He is busy most of the time, but when he can, he loves to wake board and water ski. He began kite boarding last summer, but hasn't really had enough time to get good at it yet. Thanks to Dr. Burzynski and antineoplastons, Paul leads a full and busy life, and is able to help others attain a healthy lifestyle.
UPDATE by Mary Michaels, March 1999
Paul is a normal, healthy, 18-year-old boy who is ready to graduate from high school. He is still on antineoplaston treatment in capsule form. Kevin is now 21 years old and Mark is 15.