From Holistic Health Guru to Patient Advocate: The Importance of Respecting Evidence-Based Medicine

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Topics include: Patient Stories

Cherie Rineker, a mother, wife, multiple myeloma patient, author and blogger who championed holistic medicine for most of her life, shares her story growing up, studying and working in the holistic health world to becoming an advocate for myeloma treatment research. During this interview, Cherie tackles tough questions on Big Pharma, stigmas around clinical trials and cancer treatment, and explains how her perspective shifted while fighting for her own life with an aggressive form of myeloma. 

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Andrew Schorr from Patient Power with my friend Cherie Rineker who is a multiple myeloma patient and has been for how many years now?  

Cherie Rineker:

For six years. 

Andrew Schorr:

Thank goodness, with modern medicine she's doing well, and she's really participating in the leading edge of medicine, CAR?T cell therapy in a clinical trial.  But you've been through rounds of monoclonal antibodies and chemotherapies and a lot of medicine has been given to you. But your background is in more holistic health.  So just give us your background and how you felt about doctors and medicine before then. 

Cherie Rineker:

I thought doctors and medicine was evil, because I'd been taught that by my mother actually since I was a little kid.  We were never taken to doctors.  Everything was prayed away or ultimately, hopefully went away on its own.  And then I did holistic medicine, went to Clayton College for natural health, massage school, studied reflexology, colon hydrotherapy, just learned everything I could about nutrition and became vegetarian trying to stay as healthy as I could, living a mostly alkaline?based diet. 

Andrew Schorr:

And felt good. 

Cherie Rineker:

And felt good, though I started feeling bad about six to eight months prior to being diagnosed. 

Andrew Schorr:

And felt bad and then what?  

Cherie Rineker:

Then horrible, horrible back pains, severe fatigue, just pain all over my ribs, my sternum.  You know, typical myeloma pain where it's moving around wherever it leads.  

Andrew Schorr:

And then eventually you were diagnosed with myeloma, shocker to you.  

Cherie Rineker:

Right.  

Andrew Schorr:

How could somebody who lived so—such a clean life, have cancer?  

Cherie Rineker:

Right.  I had a friend of mine on my daughter's birthday three weeks before I was diagnosed, and I said the C word starts to creep up, because everything else was ruled out, and she said, Cherie, you can't possibly have cancer.  If you do, we're all in trouble.  And so that's kind of how I felt too, but, you know, I didn't know what else it could be. 

Andrew Schorr:

So there's—you and I are both very active on the internet, and there are people who say that diet can prevent cancer or cure cancer, that certain natural approaches will cure everything.  

Cherie Rineker:

Right.  

Andrew Schorr:

But do you have a different view of that related to curing cancer or treating it well and knocking it back?  

Cherie Rineker:

Yeah, unfortunately I do, and I had to learn, find out along the way, like everybody else. I believed that vitamin C in high doses, you know, could kill cancer—probably in a petri dish but certainly not in the body—and the same with turmeric and curcumin and all those things.  Different diets, I spent a lot of money on that even after I was diagnosed, but I didn't do it for very long, because I shouldn't have gotten cancer to begin with because of my healthy lifestyle.  

But I know a lot of people who have spent over $100,000 postponing true medical treatment, going to Mexico to Clinic of Hope or getting vitamin C infusions and stuff, and the cancer just progressing and even know a friend who passed away, because he did not reach for regular.  And there's a lot of, you know, a lot of people say pharmaceuticals, they want to keep us sick, because that's how they make money and stuff, and my argument is always Steve Jobs.  He was a billionaire.  If there was a cure out there, I'm sure he would have spent the money to get it, and he passed away.  He started out with holistic medicine I believe.  

Andrew Schorr:

He lost time. 

Cherie Rineker:

Right. Precious time.  So I'm now, I always say, in the holistic movement, and I get approached by those people. And they feel I'm a traitor, and I'm fine with that, but I'm the inconvenient truth, you know.  

Andrew Schorr:

Right. This is controversial.  We want to believe that we can be in control of our own body.  Cancer is a really tough enemy.  And, yes, billions of dollars are spent trying to develop new therapies, and you've benefited.  Some of the most leading edge of medicine, CAR?T cell therapy where a tremendous investment trying to lengthen lives, and you've benefited.  Wouldn't it have been great if some holistic approach could have either prevented you from getting there or made the difference, but you found out it didn't.  

Cherie Rineker:

Right.  And even my own oncologist has said, I don't like chemo either. And if these things worked, I would rather my patients do that, because chemo helps, but at the same time it's not the greatest for our bodies either.  So this whole conspiracy theory that doctors make extra money, my doctor gets a salary. He says, it doesn't matter what I give you or don't give you.  I'm not making extra money.  

And the pharmaceutical companies are not holding back.  A lot of people I've gotten to know personally, they have people that have cancer themselves, childhood cancers or family members.  They're all so passionate about what they do.  They really, really want to get to a cure too. There are always going to be people with cancer, so it's not going to be like we find the cure and, you know, the well's going to run dry, you know, so.  

Andrew Schorr::

So when some people think, well, pharmaceutical companies or hospitals or anybody, they're just out to keep you sick and treat you chronically and not have a cure, you don't believe that.  

Cherie Rineker:

Not at all anymore.  Absolutely not.  And I know enough doctors and researchers on a personal basis now, I think my doctor would be ecstatic if I wouldn't need anything anymore, and with the CAR?T I'm actually chemo-free.  So I don't have to take it anymore, and he's as thrilled about it as I am.  

Andrew Schorr::

Right. Well, first of all, we wish you a long life and hope that this leading edge of medicine—let's face it, you were near death...

Cherie Rineker:

Yes.  

Andrew Schorr::

..that this will just continue, and if we could say, boy, your unmeasurable cancer, that's the way it remains, wouldn't that be great?  Go live your life.  But I think could a juice or some natural substance have done, tackled cancer and beaten it, you don't believe it.  

Cherie Rinekerr::

I believe in integrative medicine to the point where I believe it's always wiser to live a healthy life, body and mind.  To go out and walk instead of taking the elevator and to, you know, have a glass of water instead of having a Coke, that kind of stuff.  It's just living life in moderation is just a wise approach I think. But will that cure your diseases? No, I don't believe that anymore. 

Andrew Schorr::

Okay. Well, all the best to you, Cherie. This is an important discussion. I'm sure you've had it in your own family.  How can you have control?  Did somebody suggest, oh, drink this, do this, and that's going to prevent you from getting cancer or beat the cancer that you have, and you've heard Cherie's point of view on that, and I think it's an important one.  

Thanks for watching.  I'm Andrew Schorr.  Remember, knowledge, real evidence?based knowledge, can be the best medicine of all. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on January 30, 2019