For the last few months, I have been receiving unsolicited emails from Tommy Chug; he being the other half of the 70's era comedy duo, "Cheech and Chong," with whom I spent countless hours in college laughing at their recorded routines, but beyond that I don't remember much. There were a few follow-up movies, which I never saw, and more recently, I have found somewhat belatedly a early 2000s cop show starring Cheech Marin alongside Don Johnson: "Nash Bridges." Nothing at all from Tommy Chong until these emails began arriving.
The email is a solicitation followed by content about his life these last years, and the discovery he made after he had served a nine-month prison sentence for selling decorative bongs (there's a bit more to that story, but it's not particularly pertinent to this column). After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Tommy sought help trying to mitigate the effects of his chemotherapy treatment and perhaps even improve his quality of life. (He's 81 now, by the way.) In so pursuing, he met a doctor from Utah while on a plane, and the rest is Tommy's email.
The content is not exactly personalized but it does resonate. It resonates because it sounds reasonable and plausible and the remedy not too impactful to major organs, specifically liver and kidney, for which I'm very keen and concerned, given my nearly 13-year chemotherapy-plus treatment for cancer. However, the email has struck a nerve. It did so because as a cancer patient, it's easy to believe (or hope) there's a magic (often non-Western) cure to whatever ails you, especially when cancer is the culprit. I wouldn't necessarily characterize my feelings/emotions as susceptible but it's hard not to lean that way when you've been given a "terminal" diagnosis by your Western/conventional doctors. To say you have nothing to lose is a bit of a simplification. Still, hearing the words I heard on Feb. 27, 2009 (you bet I remember the date) at the initial Team Lourie meeting with my oncologist, does cause your antennae to go up and out and all-around seeking an answer to what might very well be, the unanswerable.
When an oncologist tells you you're likely to die within "13 months to two years," all bets are off and caution no longer becomes an impediment. Standing pat and adhering exclusively to what your doctors are telling you seems like giving up sort of. For me, I didn't give up. I started trying alternatives, many of which I am continuing a decade-plus later. Now whether these non-conventional/non-Western methods have proven beneficial, I certainly can't confirm, but if living is any indicator, they likely did no harm (the crux of the Hippocratic oath). So yes, on the face of Tommy's email about improving one's quality of life, I am open to some other possibilities to prescription medication.
In fact, to this day, I still consume about 60 pills a day and always wash it and most other things down with alkaline water. Moreover, I try to limit my sugar, which is impossible and I remain open to new ideas. Over the years, I have ingested spoonfuls of pureed canned asparagus, drank water with baking soda, drank water with apple cider vinegar, blended fruit and vegetable smoothies (how else does one tolerate kale?) and tried to be mindful of a maintaining an alkaline diet. The goal has been to enhance my immune system while eliminating toxins in order to enable my body to heal itself. Again, it's difficult to know what alternatives have worked and what hasn't. Whether it has been real or a type of placebo effect where I thought it was beneficial, I am not prepared to say. However, I am living proof of something.
As concerns what Tommy is selling, the problem is, as it was with all my previous choices, there are no guarantees. Unfortunately, that was a problem at the beginning, and I fear it will be a problem at the end.