This article is about Dr Francisco Contreras, and his Oasis of Hope Clinic in Mexico, where amongst orthodox treatments he also uses metabolic therapy, combining ozone therapy, pancreatic enzymes, vitamin C megadoses and B-17.
Francisco Contreras loves Renaissance art, music and riding motorbikes. He has just written a book about Italy and is in the midst of his cancer tour. He intends to take three days off, and is having his leathers shipped over from Mexico so he can take a motorbike up into the Alps.
Francisco Contreras is also passionate about helping people with cancer. He truly feels he has a calling and is devoutly Christian.
His hospital, The Oasis of Hope, is a world class facility and people come from all over the world to be treated. Last Christmas people from nineteen different nations were sitting down to lunch together.
The hospital caters for all disciplines with the exception of neo-natal and when I was in California I heard radio commercials inviting the ill to attend. But the reputation of Contreras and The Oasis of Hope is resolutely based around cancer treatment.
Living with the cancer, enjoying life anyway, being alive five years later, is success
The great majority of patients arriving in Mexico have grade four cancers, about as bad as you can get. Contreras believes one of the first challenges is changing cancer patient´s expectations of cure. "Doctors have sold people on the goal of getting rid of the cancer 100 per cent and this expectation is completely unrealistic. If they take a picture after the treatment and the cancer is still there then there is gloom, the treatment has failed", he opines. In his view, "Living with the cancer, enjoying life anyway, being alive five years later, is success. It´s like a good marriage. You don´t bother me and I don´t bother you", he laughs. In his view, happiness with your life and your cancer is linked to your expectations.
Three Levels Of Treatment
Happiness is an important cancer-fighting emotion at The Oasis. Indeed Contreras defines his treatment programme as providing the patient with three resources: emotional, spiritual and physical. Of the three he immediately jumps to talk about the second.
"People who do well with us often have ´spiritual fortitude´ - their view on life is so different. If you view your life as just a little part of eternity, the fear factor of cancer becomes a secondary problem. We acknowledge all faiths and beliefs but we don´t hide the fact that we are Christians. We believe your ticket to eternity in heaven is Jesus Christ and we counsel patients in the teachings of the Bible. We have two people in a patient´s room praying for the patients and we have daily participation meetings". In fact the walls are covered with scripture, there is a chaplin and live-in missionaries at The Oasis of Hope.
Emotional well-being is also tended to
Emotional well-being is also tended to. Contreras tells of a lady who arrived with a bad case of breast cancer. At The Oasis of Hope they encourage partners to attend too; even to sleep with the patient in the all-private hospital. So at the preliminary meeting, Contreras was interviewing the patient with her husband in attendance. Or at least trying to! Every time he asked her a question, the husband answered! In the end he kicked the husband out of the room and, seemingly for the first time in her life she was free to get things ´off her chest´. Contreras recommended counselling, she met with a counsellor every day for two weeks and left a new woman with her cancer in regression. He didn´t say what happened to her husband!
Other aspects of emotional well-being are attended to, from laughter - "laughing stimulates the immune system better than any drug" - to music and even the colour of the hospital room. They organise meetings with jokes, and ´sing-alongs´ at The Oasis of Hope.
We talked about research from an American Hospital that people who were more argumentative survived longer. "We are very clear. People who are more determined, beat it", he says.
Of course, it is the third level of treatment that excites him most; the physical. But more of that later.
A Little History
The origins of the hospital concern a lady called Cecile Hoffman. Francisco´s father Ernesto had started a free clinic for the poor called the Good Samaritan after time as a doctor in the Mexican military, and his mother had become a nurse there. Cecile had cancer and turned up in Mexico requesting that Ernesto administer laetrile to her. She had obtained supplies in Canada, but found no American hospital would use it for her benefit. And so a link to cancer and laetrile was founded.
He thought about training in music but the call of medicine
was too strong
Francisco grew up around all this. Often he would have to give up his bed as the clinic over the road overflowed. He thought about training in music but the call of medicine was too strong. After medical schools in Taluca, Mexico City and Pasadena, California he spent five years studying surgical oncology in Vienna.
Meanwhile the Mexican Authorities had shut the laetrile clinic and a new hospital called Del Mar, had been opened in its place by Ernesto. Francisco started there but wanted a world-class facility and in 1984 the all new, state of the art Hospital Ernesto Contreras opened in its place.
Building The Patient Relationship
Ernesto taught Francisco, especially reminding him of the roots and reasons for their mission. Their practice has two fundamental principles:
1:Do no harm.
2:Treat the patient as yourself.
No therapy was off-limits as long as it was potentially effective and covered the two points above. Such "open-mindedness" is the essence and the point of difference in The Oasis of Hope, but of course it brings its critics.
Since treatments are planned individually they may include laetrile or ozone therapy, bringing criticism from official medical authorities in the USA; and they may include radiotherapy or chemotherapy, bringing criticism from alternative, natural practitioners. As Francisco himself says, "Of course, chemotherapy is a valid option and we do use it sometimes. But we just don´t necessarily find it that effective! "I spoke with other Mexican clinics who indeed described the hospital bizarrely as too orthodox!
Chemotherapy is a valid option and we do use it sometimes
In 1996 at the suggestion of a patient, the hospital´s name was changed to The Oasis of Hope, and in 1997 Ernesto handed over the reins to Francisco completely. Although they treat all manner of patients, cancer remains the focus and patient relationship the emphasis.
A course of treatment typically takes around three weeks and the hospital has roughly 180 private rooms. A stay can cost between $US 15,000 and $US 20,000. But Francisco emphasises that treatment is a two year programme; the first three weeks at The Oasis are more about education and training to enable the patient to continue the programme effectively when they return home.
Francisco emphasises that what gives him most pleasure is turning a victim into a victor; watching the successes which are not necessarily total ´cures´, and building a rapport and a real trust with the patient over what they are doing.
He gets disappointed a little by the FDA and the Mexican FDA hovering all the time in the background, but says they have survived some heavy duty inspections with flying colours, so even that doesn´t concern him so much these days. His biggest disappointment is that there have been so very little advances made with children´s cancer across the world.
The Physical Treatments
The patient relationship comes to the fore from the very start. Contreras is a great admirer of Dr Gerson and their diet programme is based on the Gerson Therapy; indeed Charlotte Gerson´s clinic was inside The Oasis until recently when she set up her own facility also in Mexico. (The space has now been taken by Dr Josef Issels´ widow, Marie Issels, another famous name in Cancer Treatment. Issels started his highly successful integrated cancer practice in 1951).
Success or failure can depend a lot on the patient´s
At The Oasis they have found that success or failure with the Gerson Therapy can depend a lot on the patient´s individual personality. Some patients simply find it too arduous and drop out, so The Oasis has modified it to where it is practical for most people.
There´s less juicing, just four to five rather than thirteen. It is less strict, with only one or two coffee enemas not five. As Francisco says, "You´ve got to have time to enjoy not having cancer!"
But he believes diet plays not just a physical, but a mental role too. "If you smoke, you are telling your body something; you don´t care about it. If every time you eat you are making a sacrifice you are also supplying a message that you care about your body".
Every patient receives nutritional counselling. The Oasis will use drips, EDTA, polarising solutions, juice fasts, colonic irrigation and coffee enemas coupled with an essentially vegetarian diet, although recently fish has been added in. To this detoxification programme they add vitamins and supplements often via drips.
This is then the core of the programme, which also usually involves B-17. "We see B-17 as Nature´s Chemotherapy. It is a wonderful supporting agent for our treatments; we usually combine it with other specific treatments and there is usually synergy. It doesn´t work on all cancers; with sarcomas, primary brain tumours and primary liver tumours we have not had good results, but we still use it because it is a strong supporting agent".
(You can buy Apricot Kernels, one of the very best natural sources of vitamin B-17, in our shop.)
They use shark cartilage in much the same way to stop tumour spread. When I referred to the early work with shark cartilage and the emphasis that bottled mass-produced products were reported near useless, Contreras told me that they always carefully prepared their own from scratch.
Treatment is very thorough at The Oasis
Treatment is very thorough at The Oasis. You are expected to arrive with all your lab. reports and medical history, which they will review to see if previous doctors have missed anything. Then they do all the lab. work again as a comparison.
So what else do they use at The Oasis - and what treatments excite him?
"Ozone is our project. It is really most exciting and we are getting real results with it", says Contreras. To date they have treated almost 1500 patients and use a machine similar to a dialysis machine to ozonate the whole blood system (Ed: Since 75 per cent of the blood in the body is in the poorly oxygenated venous system, the historical problem has always been how to create oxygen overload around the tumour.) Contreras also increased the PO2 pressure from 100 to 700.
The ozone breaks down into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide, the latter enhancing nitrous oxide levels and actually helping deliver oxygenated haemoglobin past the tumour´s defence systems. (Tumours restrict the capillaries feeding them, so oxygen - which kills them - can´t pass into the tumour. Nitrous oxide dilates the blood vessels).
A second benefit Contreras says of ozone therapy is that it increases natural cytokines in the body giving a huge boost to the immune system. Contreras claims that 40 per cent of patients see tumour regression of 10 to 30 per cent within 15 days.
Contreras is always on the look out for new and potentially effective treatments. He is particularly keen to explore the latest developments in China and Russia. One Chinese project, CHML, makes him extremely excited. CHML involves using polypeptides taken from the lipid membranes of animal or plant cells. These polypeptides seem to act as extremely fast and effective antioxidating agents on tumours, providing the delivery system can take them into the tumour. CHML must therefore be injected directly into the tumour, or provided via a catheter into the tumour´s blood supply, otherwise it doesn´t work. This requires phenomenal accuracy and direct access to the tumour.
It will not get approval if the FDA doesn´t know how it works
The Chinese continue to develop these potent polypeptides but the FDA wants exclusive rights to develop the project outside China. According to Contreras the FDA logic for any treatment is simple. It can be miraculously effective, but it will not get approval if the FDA doesn´t know how it works. In the case of CHML the FDA knows exactly how it works and wants exclusive usage. Sadly, for this reason, he may not be able to obtain and use it in Mexico.
By contrast Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) doesn´t seem to interest him. They tried it, had lights everywhere but couldn´t make it work, he claims. In fact, as regular readers know, your intrepid reporter has investigated PDT quite extensively and was surprisingly unconvinced that Contreras knew what he was talking about on PDT(!). Never mind.
So what does the future bring? Contreras feels the most exciting area, long term is Electromagnetic Fields, just as we do at icon.
MRI scanning already uses the basic principles that different tissues resonate at different frequencies and so sonographic waves can be reflected to create pictures of the tissues and any cancer cells. "If we could learn the exact resonance of cancer cells then we could destroy them whilst leaving the surrounding tissues unaffected", says Contreras. In the past a chap called Dr Royal Rife - yes, really - discovered that cancer cells could withstand very little electricity, far less than normal healthy cells. So he set about mildly electrocuting his patients and even had some successes. Contreras feels that magnets could do a considerably better job!
The Coming Cancer Cure
And so to his book that he is over here promoting, "The Coming Cancer Cure". In line with his beliefs he praises Gerson, decries the total lack of spending on cancer prevention, laments the declining nourishment values of modern diets and provides an overview of some future possible "cures" for cancer.
Cancer is such big business in the USA
While the book´s title is upbeat about finding a cancer cure, he himself is far more cynical and he tells the story of treating a congressman. When they discussed his hopes for an eventual cure, he was told that if he took a total cure to the US President tomorrow, he´d "probably be killed!" "Cancer is such big business in the USA", he says, "bigger than Ford, General Motors and the rest. Imagine the job losses, the losses to the economy!". Indeed in a number of our conversations he cites "money" as the reason things do or do not happen.
Contreras has two more books planned; one a 40 year history of The Oasis of Hope, the other one on breast cancer. We discuss the icon article, "Oestrogen - the killer in our midst" and he tells me the treatment for breast cancer is simple: anti-oestrogen. We discuss prostate cancer about which he feels the same, however he adds the point that no-one ever died of prostate cancer. He clearly feels that a lot of scare-mongering exists.
Does he want a wave of new "Oases" around the world? Yes, he´d love it. He has been trying to tie up a deal in England for six months but they haven´t quite overcome funding issues. He has hopes for a hospital in Korea and maybe something in Japan. The Mexican wave is about to encompass the world.
Dr Francisco Contreras is a polite man. The word "charm" springs into your mind after just a few minutes with him; then "knowledge"; then "passion". It is important to remember he is Mexican, and the hospital started as a hospital for the Mexican poor. This is definitely not another case of Americans being driven over the border by vested interests
It is clear that his open-minded approach to cancer results in truly integrated cancer treatments and we applaud him for that.
Dr Francisco Contreras is undoubtedly one of icon´s icons and we salute him on behalf of all our readers touched by cancer.
Chris Woollams interviewed Dr Contreras at the former Foundation for Natural Health and greatly appreciated the help and generosity of spirit of the late Dr Paul Layman who arranged it all.
The coming cancer cure is published in the UK by Authentic Lifestyle at 7.99 plus 1.95 postage and packing. To order call 01908 364250.
Readers may also be interested in articles such as
A Diary of a prostate patient at the Oasis of Hope (Living Proof)