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Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
Prostate Cancer Survivor's Diary: Les Bryant's 18 days at The Oasis of Hope

There is a Living Proof in every issue of icon. Real people, living with cancer; or real cancer patients; or real cancer survivors tell you their stories of what worked for them. 

We have a number of personal stories from prostate cancer survivors. Here is a current list:

1. Richard - tackling Prostate cancer with hyperthermia
2. Vernon - using an alkalising diet including sodium bicarbonate to tackle prostate cancer
3. Les - going to the Oasis of Hope Mexico to tackle prostate cancer
4. Ken - using the Pfeifer Protocol to tackle prostate cancer
5. John - tackling prostate cancer with diet and exercise


A Diary by Les Bryant, prostate cancer survivor. And the 18 days he spent at the Oasis of Hope Cancer clinic, in Mexico, with its head Dr Contreras

In early 2005 I found blood in my urine and a blood test confirmed my PSA level was 4. A biopsy found that I supposedly had benign Prostate problems but the Urologist was not happy with this result and a second test found that I had extensive cancer, grade 8, in the Seminal Vesicle Tubes. After some deliberation it was decided that I should have a radical prostectomy, this was done and I was told that the surgical margins were clear. Some ten days after the first surgery things went wrong and I found myself back in hospital having my pipes reconnected to my bladder where they had come away causing urine to gather in my lower stomach area. Sadly, my PSA never went below 1.9 and Radiotherapy was used. This had no effect and soon my PSA was rising again. I was put on Zoladex for a year but after a few months I developed pains in my ribs which were considered inconsequential as it was thought patients required a PSA in the hundreds before secondary mestastasies occurred. This I have since found is simply not the case. The first X-ray said it was not secondary cancer, but the second, then the third said it wasnt!  So one year after I first complained of the pains, I had another X-ray and tests under a separate Oncologist. And the diagnosis now is that I have secondary prostate cancer in my left ribs, shoulder and pelvic area.

The Zoladex coupled with Casodex never really worked and I have since been told I have refractory disease. I still take these two medications and also have had three Someta infusions to strengthen my bones. I now suffer bone and jaw ache, also size 32 breasts. After a lot of work on the internet and in many ways thanks to icon , I found Oasis of Hope. 

Go To: An Interview with Dr. Contreras at the Oasis of Hope, Mexico

My PSA has now climbed to 41, and I felt that if I was ever going to have alternative treatment it had to be now, so here I am on the plane from Heathrow to San Diego, alone, wondering if I have done the right thing. CANCERactive and icon founder Chris Woollams asked that I keep a diary of my experiences for the benefit of all readers and other interested parties. Apparently when his daughter told her oncologist that she was thinking of going to the Oasis of Hope for Ozone Therapy, the oncologist merely replied, You know some people go to Mexico and never come back, dont you. We shall see!

3rd April 2008

I arrived late in the evening complete with a bad cold.  The driver picking me up at the airport was held up at the very busy border crossing and I had been told not to eat for 12 hours before arrival at the Hospital. I was starving. It was too late to see anyone that night and I was shown to my room. I was pleasantly surprised how modern and aesthetically pleasing the building was. It eased my anxiety of the unknown. I was not offered a meal when I got here and I took that to mean they would do the blood and X-ray tests early the next morning.

4th April

9am, still starving. I met my patient representative, Dorian, who took me on a tour of the building and also arranged blood samples to be taken. Then I had a veggie breakfast which was a culture shock of tastes I never knew existed. The cafeteria is a very clean modern and pleasant hall with religious quotes on the walls that add to the tone of the place. At 10.30 the Doctor came to give me a full examination and told me that the vitamin treatment starts tomorrow. At 2pm, after a very tasty chicken lunch with no salt on it, (I must be getting better), I had a visit from the Emotional Support Team and I will fill in a questionnaire before we meet to discuss any emotional problems I may have. It already strikes me that as well as being a very warming and efficient building, the staff all seem genuinely pleasant and concerned for my wellbeing. Its such a refreshing change from the normal non-commitment one can get with UK doctors. More especially I met a charming lady, among many, called Carol Hale who is a helper from Texas. Having been coming here some seventeen years, she is a model of information and calmness - she comes here twice a year to help out and rejuvenate herself and it works for her. Im already starting to feel at home. Apart from the 75 tablets I now have to take today, the rest of the day is mine to do as I wish. Later, after a walk to the beach, I will be going to the movies in the social area with the other patients.

5th April

After breakfast I was taken by Thomas to have ozone therapy. They take approx 1 litre of blood from your body and oxygenate it and pass it back via an ultraviolet light; the whole thing is done in a very airy and light room, with views out towards the sea. It is very relaxing non-painful and aided by the sounds of Andrea Botchelli. Around 11.30am I received vitamin infusions back in my room. This can have side effects. The infusions can sometimes make your bones ache and the muscles in your back contract, so the first ten drops are given and they wait to see if there is any reaction. They didnt have to wait long. My body and stomach started to ache quite a lot but after ten minutes it subsided and they continued with the treatment. There followed various vitamin infusions which took about 4 hours and I was required to wear breathing apparatus to enhance the oxygenation of the treatment. This finished about 7.50 pm and having had lunch & dinner in my room complete with the breathing attachment still on my nose, I was informed that this would be the situation on and off for the rest of my stay.

6th April

I elected to miss Morning Prayer with Dr Contreras at 9.30am as my treatment would begin about the same time. Prayers are held at various different times of the day and week. I would also miss the weekend excursion to the local beach and shops. I hope to do that when my main treatment is finished and I wont have a line for infusions attached to my arm. Still the capsules and tablets keep coming. I had the same infusions of Perftec, vitamin C as well as vitamin K and also Kemdalin otherwise known as Laetrile or synthetic vitamin B17. I didnt have a good nights sleep as I was woken twice in the early hours by loud music coming from outside the Hospital. There are bars and more, close by. I should also have gone to get my visa stamp at the local office but I forgot to mention it to my Patient Rep, I will have to do it during the week now. I also hope to get to the local Gym, to which all patients have access.

7th April

No infusions today or tomorrow, just my 75 or so tablets. I have two days off. I had a PSA test in England before I came to Mexico and today I got the result. In England my PSA had increased from 41 to 45.5. Dr Lopez came in to see me and said the results from England conflict with the PSA test results she had done here and that my PSA is in fact down to 30. I now have a full list of treatment times and days that make life a lot easier for me. At some point though I will be having a chest X-ray to look at the supposed secondary bone cancer - after all this time there still remains a doubt whether I have it or not. Perhaps this Hospital can confirm it one way or the other. Some of the infusions do cause me slight ear ache but I am told this will pass. As time goes by I become more comfortable and positive about my time and treatment here, its like a breath of fresh air for my mind. Today I will have lunch with other patients in the cafeteria. Tonight I have to drink 2 litres of some form of X-ray marker fluid by the morning for my CT scan X-rays. It tastes like sour apples.

8th April

8am. I was given a second jug of sour apple juice to drink followed by some form of marker dye injection. My ears hurt and my head is still a little dizzy. 11am. After Spanish lessons in the meeting Hall I attended a seminar with Dr Contreras in the lecture room. A very warm, knowledgeable and sincere man who in one hour explains why his hospital does what it does, and his hopes for the future including other centres, possibly London (though he thought London was very expensive). He also sent his regards to Chris Woollams at CANCERactive, whom he met in England some time ago. This short seminar explained and fully justified to me, why I am here. It takes time to understand how they are striving constantly to find better, more effective medication. I feel much more at home now than at the beginning. The beach is a five minute walk away, as is the beautiful Oasis Gardens. The highlight of this walk is a fresh coconut juice from the vendors on the beach; its a very refreshing and invigorating experience and is recommended by Carol for relaxation. On returning to the Hospital I have since been told that I require more bone scans as my scans did not arrive from England as promised!

9th April

10am. I am waiting for Thomas to come and take me to have the Ozone therapy. After that its back to my room for a day of infusions and oxygen. Tomorrow they will take me to another Hospital to have my bone scan done. This involves one visit to inject me with the isotope and another later in the day to actually have the scan done. They now have my scans from England but they prefer to make their own evaluation from their own scans. I can appreciate that. I had a chat with Dr Lopez and she says that since I have been here my PSA is definitely down to 30 and that, for now, I should stay on the hormone blockers. Her view on how long the hormone blockers will work differs from that of London Consultants. She says that combined with the medication I receive from Oasis it should all work to bring my PSA level down lower than the thirty marker. I feel a note of caution is justified though. Experience now tells me that you should not mix reports from other Hospitals with those of the Oasis Hospital; Im not sure they are using the same criteria when studying them.

10th April

After an early breakfast, Thomas rang me for my daily session of Ozone therapy. After that I met up with Jonathan, the bus driver, who took Yvette and me to a local Hospital for bone marker dye injections. Tijuana is a poor place but is very much alive with people selling their wares at every traffic light. We have to return to the local Hospital at 3pm for the actual X-rays. I arrived back in my room just in time for two infusions, one of vitamin K, the other, vitamin C. Then, my trolley stand with me, Im off to what is left of the question and answer session with Dr Contreras, then back to the oxygen mask and the other infusions. 2.30pm. I went back to the other hospital for the bone scan and afterwards got asked the usual question: Have I ever broken any ribs? Apparently, they cant see much that resembles bone cancer! They will send these X-rays to the team at Oasis Hospital for their conclusion. Tomorrow at 9am, I have to meet up with the nutritionist for home cooking lessons and later at 11am go to the passport office to get my passport visa stamped. In between, I have to see Thomas for my ozone therapy and all the other infusions. You need to get to grips with your medication routine at Oasis very quickly or you will spend a lot of time waiting around in your room for people to collect you.

11th April

8am sharp. I had breakfast hoping to be finished in plenty of time to see Thomas for ozone therapy about 10am after meeting the nutritionist, at 9am. Unfortunately Thomas wanted me there for therapy directly after breakfast about 8.30am. If you have to have needles put in you, Thomas is the preferred man to do it. For that reason he is always busy but always obliging, unfortunately this coupled with other minor problems meant I got to the nutritionist meeting five minuets from the end just in time to hear their view that any form of soy product is really bad if you have breast or prostate cancer. Im not sure about this. 11am. Ten of us went for a hot and bumpy 30 minute drive downtown to get our visas stamped in a customs shed in the middle of nowhere. It costs 24 dollars and we got back to the Hospital at 1pm. Just in time to grab some lunch in my room as the nurses start to fit me up for my infusions. John came in to say goodbye, he and his wife Jan are flying back to the UK tomorrow but they will come back to Oasis Hospital to continue Jans treatment in July. She is a great fan of yours, Chris. She has read all your books and they make sense to her, thats one of the reasons she is at Oasis. You do meet so many nice people in these places - patients and staff alike.

12th April

The day started with my ozone therapy followed by my usual infusions. A discussion took place about the medication suitcase you take home with you, which can even include injection medication. For that reason I have to learn how to use a hypodermic needle. That, Im not looking forward to though!! Yvette, who used to be a nurse, says its easy. My infusions finished about 1pm so I had time to grab a bite of lunch before the shopping trip to Rosarito, 20Km down the road. Rosarito is a bubbly, lively place and I felt rather strange being on a beach and yet I am here for Hospital treatment! It seems surreal to me, as if they shouldnt mix, but it is a very relaxing two hours off the case if you have enough health to wander the shops and beach. Today, I picked up my therapeutic diet book and I shall spend an hour or so after dinner going over the menus. The hard part is putting in to action what you have learnt when you go home, thats when it counts. I wonder about the multi-national clientele of this Hospital coming from all over the world as they do and most by word of mouth. There are some very ill souls here for treatment but, somehow, I feel we draw strength from each other as we are not alone but one band of souls striving for the right to survive our illness.

13th April

Today after breakfast there was a morning service of worship with a oration by Dr Contreras, His theme being along the lines of, Pray for what you need before you pray for what you want, and he expressed a view that all life and healing is tied up in Gods great plan and that prayer is a very important part of the healing tool chest that God provides. Dr Contreras is a very sincere, spiritual man with a very compassionate heart. Say what you will, he cares very much about the whole welfare of his patients and fights with both his science and his religion to make people well. After the service I went with Helger to the Oasis gardens 100 meters away. It is as Carole said: A very peaceful flowery place for reading, relaxing and contemplation. After lunch, ten of us went to the artisan area of Tijuana for a couple of hours around the ceramics and art shops. Tomorrow it is back to the grind of ozone therapy and infusions for my last seven days. Still the tablets keep coming, but my energy level has increased considerably. One thing that is so different from other hospitals is your ability during your treatments to do what you want and go where you please. As long as you are back in time for your treatment. It means a lot to get a break from it all even though the medical treatment is not harsh. After dinner some of us went to the beach for a stroll as the sun was going down; it finished the day off as gently as it started.

14th April

The day started in the usual manner with my visit to Thomas for Ozone therapy followed by my infusions. Thomas says he will teach me how to use a hypodermic needle later in the week so that I inflict no pain on myself, although the whole home treatment course is discussed at a mid-week meeting about home medication. The whole package full of your 3 months home treatment is actually in a small luggage case with wheels on it that, I think, must go in the hold of the plane. I must have my prescription letter with me for the Mexican border and US customs - they may want to see it. Dr Lopez came in to see me and said she hopes to have my bone X-rays by tomorrow and meet with her colleagues to consider my case, then she will come in to see me. Talking to others, its amazing how positive most of the patients are about their treatment and diagnosis. This place certainly instils confidence to be A cancer Victor rather than a cancer Victim (Dr Contreras words)

15th April

I woke early this morning and had breakfast at 8am on time for a change before going off to see Thomas. Dr Lopez came in to see me about 12.30 and said that her team have checked my bone scans and they do not think I have secondary bone cancer at all.  Also they have double checked with a particular enzyme, which increases in the body when bone cancer is present, and this enzyme level is perfectly normal. In their view what is showing up is just old trauma caused over the years. Everyone here is really pleased about the results and Yvette also got an all clear bone scan, which is more great news so we are all going to the natural yogurt restaurant near the beach tonight to celebrate!! This journey was worth the effort just to meet such a nice group of people from all walks of life and from all corners of the world. Tomorrow I will go to the seminar on how to manage my home treatment. I have been told that I have to come back in six weeks for six days. I am already looking forward to returning.

16th April

This morning after breakfast I went to see Lolita and collected my prescription pack - it just about fits in to a medium size suitcase except for the syringes and kemdalin. These I had to get direct from the Pharmacy next door, they had to go in another small holdall. 11am. I went to the follow up program seminar where it was explained how the treatment includes 21 phone calls and 6 monthly visits to Oasis. Importance was placed on continuing the diet, positive thinking, prayer and home medication and talking to your follow up Doctor if you want to. I was given a list of dates and times covering the next five years when Doctors will contact me or when I am required to return to Oasis for check-ups. Some patients are leaving today and tomorrow and, in a way, it is sad because you all become very close here; its part of the magic of this place. I wish them all well and will keep in touch by e-mail and on return visits. I look around me and people seem to look so much healthier after just a few days here. Its amazing. Phillipa, in particular, looks and feels radiant compared to when she first got here.

17th April

8am, sharp, Thomas was waiting to give me my ozone therapy. I asked him about self-injecting Kemdalin and he said that it is better to inject it in to the buttock if possible and for that reason it should be done by someone else. I didnt pursue it further. I will seek guidance when I return to England. After my morning of infusions we were treated to Flamenco dancing in the cafeteria at lunchtime and again it was like being a million miles from hospital except for the abundance of arms with drips attached to them. Yvette, Phillipa and Llew and Randy and his wife left for home after lunch and there were sad goodbyes to people who had become good friends in a short time. My treatment regimen is starting to get less now as I head for the home straight on Sunday. Tomorrow after treatment I need to buy another holdall to take the overflow of drugs not able to fit in my Oasis suitcase. I came out here with one case and I am going back with three! We all worry about the sheer amount of medication we are taking through US and other customs but we are assured that as long as we have our official prescriptions with us and we dont deface the prescription by writing on it in any way, then all will be well. Fingers crossed!!

18th April

No ozone therapy today - thats finished now just the other infusions have. I got my X-rays and two letters from Dr Lopez today. Unfortunately, Dr Lopez was not well today so I didnt get to talk to her about my X-rays and the letters are in Spanish as that is the official language for reports. I will get them translated when I get back to England. I still wonder how my fortunes could change so drastically and if I really believe what I am told with regards the bone cancer. I feel I have heard it all before. The real proof will be my next PSA result in England later next week. Do I show these X-ray results to my Consultant in England, is their any point? Would he be interested in them from a foreign hospital? I still feel confident about the therapy here but I dare not get my hopes up too much only to have them dashed again later, confidence takes time to gain. I spent the evening with some of the other patients watching a film, with popcorn to eat organised by our good friend Carol. So many nice people; so many nice memories.

19th April

At 10am I meet with the nutritionist to help me better understand how I can make the best use of vegetables and pulses and what to avoid if possible. A good website for nutrition is www.hacres.com. On this site you will find many recipes and ideas for raw and cooked vegetable meals. One interesting point made is that too much fruit is no good for you because of the sugar content; especially if you juice it, which puts more of the sugar straight in to your system. Nutrition is seen as a very important part of the life changes you need to make in order to keep your body in good shape to fight cancer.  I hope to have my last infusions early after this meeting so that I am clear for the rest of the day to pack my cases and then relax. John and his wife who are on their second visit to Oasis are off to their consulting doctors wedding as her guests, along with the likes of Dr Contreras and other people from the hospital. You wouldnt hear of such a thing in any hospital in the UK; its a mark of the friendly relationship between Doctor and Patient here.

20th April

I left for the airport early today as it can take a long time to get through the Mexican/US border. On my return to England I have to have my PSA checked again, this will tell me if my time in Mexico is beginning to work for me yet though I have no doubt it will, all in good time. Im not sure that I want to discuss the difference of opinion regarding my supposed bone cancer with my London consultant, at this stage. I feel I may wait a while to see how my PSA level pans out. I dont know if this is the right way to react. I just feel that I should be cautious in what I say at this point in time. Sitting on the plane, waiting to leave San Diego for London, I have mixed feelings, I am happy with my time here, confused at the conflicting bone cancer differences of opinion, too cautious to get to excited about these results, and yet, above all else, I feel much more confident in my future. Many people around me at the hospital were getting good results, some didnt. But all felt very confident and happy with their time at the Oasis of Hope, most will return to continue the fight; I will be one of them.


My Dos and Donts for visitors

  • Do use US Dollars only, dont bother with pesos.
  • Dont bother with dress up clothing - you wont use any of it.
  • Do bring shorts and trainers if you feel fit enough for a walk along the beach, or a workout in the gym.
  • Do check in when you get to the arrivals lounge in San Diego airport and look out for the driver with the scribbled piece of paper with your name on it. This service is really in need of sorting out as I waited four hours at the airport, no fun if you are in pain or discomfort. Truly the most stressful part of the whole experience.
  • Do endeavour to get your treatment program sorted out A.S.A.P 
  • Do endeavour to push the treatment times forward as much as possible to avoid long delays waiting in your room.
  • Do work with your Patient Representative on any issue of concern.
  • Do try to go to all the seminars and work your treatment around them. The staff will be pleased to assist you.

6 months on - 28th October 2008

Had to have operation to remove scar tissue blocking from my bladder caused by my many operations and radiotherapy. Have been told that I will always be incontinent unless I have a plastic sphincter valve fitted. I make my decision mid-December.

13th November (10am)

Have to have results of latest PSA test at the Royal Marsden Hospital. In Mexico my PSA tests showed a drop from 40 then up to 60 then down to 30 over the last nine months. I read in icon that one-off PSA tests are notoriously unreliable and are pooh-poohed by some hospitals in the USA. Chris Woollams says it is trends I should be looking for. So far the Marsden PSA tests show a constant slow decline from 46 to 40 over the same period. Later today I will find out the latest count. I am anxious as always; it goes with the territory.

13th November (7pm)

The consultants words What have you been doing to lower your PSA from 40 to 20? I am mystified. What a relief, my PSA halved yet, of course, no credit can be afforded to my continuing Mexican regime. Please God, I will get it down to zero then he may concede that there is maybe something in my visits to the Oasis of Hope. In the mean time, he suggests that I dont go to Mexico for treatment but instead just take a holiday. He is such a nice man and its such a shame he his so blinkered by corporate science.

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