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A Cancer Nurse Examines Alternative Medicine

“It’s the Equivalent of Murdering Somebody”

Oh my gosh, Carrie. I just had a shady experience with an alternative cancer treatment hospital, thirty minutes south of the California/Mexican border.”

Carrie Poppy is a writer, podcaster, comedian, and journalist in Los Angeles. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California.

Those were the first words of an email I received from a cancer nurse recently. Nurse K, as I’ll call him, had been in touch here and there as he helped me with a journalistic investigation, but this was the first time he had emailed out of the blue. A patient had asked him to send medical records to a clinic where, he told me, he couldn’t find a single medical professional to speak to on the phone.

“Ugh! This can be so maddening,” he wrote. “I hate to see patients waste their time and money with questionable places like this.”

I share Nurse K’s concerns. Last year, I went on a tour of “alternative” cancer clinics in Tijuana, and the methods used there were largely pseudoscientific and sometimes dangerous. Some of Nurse K’s patients have refused conventional treatment, opting instead to go to these alternative clinics, mostly in Mexico, where regulation is far laxer than in the United States.

It’s important to note that Nurse K works at a respected cancer treatment facility, so anyone who finds their way into his care, even at a late stage, has accepted modern medicine on some level. Who knows how many more people have died because they never received evidence-based treatment?

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