My name is Melissa E - I am sharing my mother's story.
"My Experience with Cancer Treatment Center of America - A Posthumous Account by Sandra E: This is my story and a not so brief, yet I hope, powerful message and warning to all those who find themselves diagnosed with cancer. If my message can help just one person, then I will have made a difference.
Having been diagnosed, for the 2nd time, with stage 4 ovarian cancer, and not being a candidate for the most often prescribed form of intravenous chemo, I found hope in the encouraging words of my doctor, Dr. John Geisler, at the Cancer Treatment Center of America.
After genetic testing, Dr. Geisler put me on an oral chemo drug, Tamoxifen, which he suggested would contain, if not reverse, the spread of the disease, until such time as I could undergo surgery and a peritoneal wash of the abdomen. I apologize for the medical lingo, but suffice it to say, this is what he recommended. Of course, I believed his words (after all he is a recognized gynecological oncologist) and I placed my hope in him. Everyone I spoke with and everything I read assured me that CTCA was THE place to go for treatment!
Please note that at this time I was relatively strong and able to take a daily, one mile walk.
Dr. Geisler said that a scan would be ordered in four months following our initial consultation to determine the effectiveness of the treatment, and he would alter the treatment if necessary.
I should, at this point, mention that I had traveled some 2,200 miles from my home to meet with Dr. Geisler. I live outside of the United States. I need to also mention that Dr. Geisler willingly accepted me as his patient, and said that we could consult via telephone whenever necessary and of course again after the future scan results were obtained.
Four months later with the scan results in both my hands and the hands of Dr. Geisler, we spoke on the telephone. I said to Dr. Geisler that I was very concerned because the report indicated both an increase in size of the existing tumors and the continuing spread of the disease. I asked if he would prescribe an alternative treatment.
He assured me that based on his calculations (comparing the numbers on the former report with the current report) the tumors had increased in size less than 20%, which in the “industry” was considered an indication that the disease had stabilized. He wanted me to remain on the Tamoxifen and to repeat the scan in another three months.
I must admit that I initially took comfort in his words, but after sleeping on it overnight I emailed his nursing assistant the following morning to inquire where the numbers from the first report could be found (I too had a copy of this report) just to further ease my mind. I was growing more weak with every passing day.
I GOT NO RESPONSE.
FOUR WEEKS LATER, after several more attempts on my part to communicate with Dr. Geisler’s office, I received a communication stating that Dr. Geisler no longer felt comfortable treating me. That I was harassing him, and that if I wanted to speak with him I would have to travel the 2,200 miles for an appointment.
I attempted to explain to his assistant that there must be some sort of misunderstanding. This was not what Dr. Geisler had communicated to me directly. I also told his assistant that because of my extremely weakened condition, I was unable to fly by commercial airline, and would have to incur an enormous expense to travel by air ambulance.
It was repeated to me that if I wanted to speak with Dr. Geisler I would have to make an appointment.
Imagine my shock, fear, and frustration. I was backed into the proverbial corner.
I made the appointment, made arrangements for an air ambulance with the help of family members, and made the long, physically and emotionally, exhausting journey.
On the day of my appointment, I was kept waiting three hours for the unapologetic Dr. Geisler. During our brief consultation, I mentioned the fact that my abdomen was growing increasingly distended and uncomfortable, and asked if there was there anything that could be done. He said that from the scan it appeared that I was constipated and that I needed to take a stool softener. I am sorry for the grim details, but this is important. By the way, a physical exam was not conducted during this appointment. Furthermore, he completely changed his initial report interpretation (per our telephone consultation), and said that the tumors had increased in size substantially and spread extensively. He nonchalantly noted that a change of treatment was necessary and prescribed Topotecan, a drug that he said had minimal side effects and a good success rate. He chuckled when he added that I wouldn’t lose my hair. He did say that I would need blood work done every two weeks to ensure that my blood count numbers remained good. And off he went with not even a goodbye. I’m not kidding.
Things went downhill pretty rapidly from here. Twenty-four hours later I found myself in the ER vomiting profusely and uncontrollably. Why? Because I had a bowel obstruction caused by a tumor pressing against the small intestine. An obstruction which Dr. Geisler must have seen on the scan the day before, and for which he prescribed stool softeners.
Suffice it to say that many other disturbing, and equally serious, incidents occurred during the days that followed...too many to relate here.
On June 1st I started the prescribed five-day treatment of Topotecan (a once a day by mouth dosage). The severe vomiting began the morning of day six, June 6th.
My family members contacted his nursing assistant and Dr. Geisler’s office telephoned in an anti-nausea medication to the nearby pharmacy.
By the way, it is a known fact that anti-nausea medication is ALWAYS prescribed and given before, during and after chemotherapy. Strange that Dr. Geisler didn’t prescribe any such medication.
Based on the blood test done immediately before I began the Topotecan protocol, my white blood cell count was 15.7 (with normal range 3.5 - 10.5); platelets 254 (with normal range 150 - 450).
I was readmitted to the ER on June 9th with a fever of 104 F. My white blood cell count was 0.4; platelets 74.
The day before I died, seven days after completing my 1st and only "round" of chemo, my white blood cell count was 0.5; platelets 7. I died on the morning of June 14th, 2017.
In my opinion, Dr. John Geisler made several grievous mistakes, the prescription of the ineffective Tamoxifen, followed by the deadly Topotecan, to name just two. Then he added insult to injury by behaving in an unethical, unprofessional and unkind manner. To this day, my family has not received any communication from Dr. John Geisler. Only invoices.
He is protected by very handsomely paid attorneys hired by an enormous for-profit organization, CTCA, which is an 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday organization, that cares NOTHING for the people in their care. It is all for money. This organization and this doctor are among the millions in the medical profession protected by U.S. laws, at the great expense of the unknowing and trusting patients.
Yes…I was a very sick woman. However, because of the poor medical care I received from Dr. John Geisler and the Cancer Treatment Center of America, I suffered greatly and died prematurely.
Please share my message…if only that you too may help just one person."
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend