'A sad case': She chose herbals over surgery

June 9, 2009 By MARILYNN MARCHIONE , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- Leslee Flasch worked in a hospice. She had seen cancer treatments fail. Now doctors were saying she needed her colon removed to treat her rectal cancer. Barely 50 years old, she would have to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

She tried some chemotherapy and radiation, but the radical surgery was something she could not face. She turned instead to prayer, a special diet and supplements she researched on the Internet.

Paw paw, mushroom extracts, pills with names like "cell regulator" and "immune stimulator." Rows of bottles lined her medicine chest. She grew worse, but still refused surgery.

"The whole family wanted Leslee to go seek medical treatment," said a sister, Donna Flasch. "I'm a believer" in herbs, Donna said, but "you don't let something like that grow. You don't ignore it and think it will go away."

Another sister, Sharon Flasch, a nurse, tried to convince Leslee that conventional treatments had helped many people.

"She didn't see what I do - I see the successes," Sharon said. "I wouldn't have played with cancer. Even if I tried the herb thing, I would have had regular checkups" to watch for signs of spread, she said.

By the time Leslee went to Tampa's Moffitt Center, shortly before she died in 2007, she was in severe pain and no longer able to have the surgery she had rejected earlier.

"A lot of it was fear of the unknown, fear of what she thought was going to be horrible. But she ended up having one of the most miserable ends of life that we see," said surgeon Sophie Dessureault.

"It was a sad case, because I see a lot of patients with this diagnosis, where patients get treated and go on and have a regular, normal life" after a colostomy, she said. "It's the job of the physician to explain not just 'this is what you need' but 'this will happen if you do it, and this will happen if you don't.'"

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Combination therapy spares some head and neck patients from surgery

Related Stories

Clinical trial evaluating brain cancer vaccine is underway

October 19, 2007

A clinical trial evaluating a brain cancer vaccine in patients with newly diagnosed brain cancer has begun at NYU Medical Center. The study will evaluate the addition of the vaccine following standard therapy with surgery ...

Study: Ginger capsules ease chemotherapy nausea

May 14, 2009

Ginger, long used as a folk remedy for soothing tummyaches, helped tame one of the most dreaded side effects of cancer treatment - nausea from chemotherapy, the first large study to test the herb for this has found.

Surgery not necessary for most late-stage colorectal cancers

May 31, 2009

A new study shows that a large majority of patients who present with advanced colorectal cancer that has spread to other organs (stage IV) don't require immediate surgery to remove the primary tumor in the colon. Researchers ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (6) Jun 09, 2009
Another story: 35 years old woman had cervical carcinoma, it didn't grew but doctor put the woman at surgery. She dead from loss of blood because surgeon affected vein.

Everyone have free choice, almost nobody knows his death's cause.
4 / 5 (4) Jun 09, 2009
How much are the drug companys paying the AP for these stories? I saw TWO of them in a row last night in yahoo new, almost exactly the same, an old guy who thought he was doing the right thing, but when he found out it was hurting him he went home and thrrew those hundreds of dollars of supplements away! scumbag drug companies
not rated yet Jun 09, 2009
The number of people who are uneducated in basic anatomy, let alone physiology are encouraged to self-treat for serious conditions/symptoms. OTC/supplemental health products is totally unregulated and a multi-billion dollar market. All too often, the results are as this article presents, some more dramatic, some less.

The distrust of the medical community, research community, the FDA and stewards of public health is well deserved. Today that distrust grows as privacy issues are rearing their head in heavy handed management to save that glorious dollar. Public/policy perceptions regarding those who become ill increasingly negative while personal bankruptcy's rise on a lop-sided economic paradigm in health care. It is unsustainable in its current but the bitter medicine to correct it is being refused.

The patient centric approach to health care, research that remove the disincentives which exist today is mandatory and will save those dollars in providing standard care absent for all too many now. It will be a herculean effort to restore trust and confidence in health care with a massive shift from a market driven solution exacted in its extreme for decades.

This writer is dubious it will occur and the sheeple will follow without education or experience as a guide.

Economics, MBAs, insurers will continue dictating medical care for which they now have a glorious example of how effective they have been; their degrees which do not require the silly philosophical "first do no harm" when dollars are at stake.

Now the choices should be expanded to include safe, quick, painless, affordable and accessible euthanasia clinics. Lets be sure to include massive ad campaigns to fuel the competition for the best ones "as seen on TV".
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2009
How much are the drug companys paying the AP for these stories? I saw TWO of them in a row last night in yahoo new, almost exactly the same, an old guy who thought he was doing the right thing, but when he found out it was hurting him he went home and thrrew those hundreds of dollars of supplements away! scumbag drug companies

Right...because the supplement producers aren't after your money. Why do you even visit a science blog when you don't believe the findings of science? Supplements are not supported by scientific evidence.

4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2009
there is no such thing as "unbiased" "news". MOST of the stories on PHYSORG are ultimately sourced from PR FIRMS who get paid to present stories by whom so ever is PAYING for them
5 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2009
She should have done more research. Most herbal treatments do not treat acute, rapid development ailments like cancer...or big injuries like car crashes. Any herbalist worth his salt will tell you straight up. In the end, she made the wrong choice due to incomplete understanding. Herbal cures have nothing to do with this case.
not rated yet Jun 09, 2009
Cyroablation WORKS, Every Time! Modified, certain
accelerated mitosies could be programmed to permit overall life spans with the cancer under control. Tumors will SHRINK if cooled! Cell malfunctions, and/or cell FUNCTIONS OCCUR AT CERTAIN TEMPERATURES
5 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2009
THC kills cancer, and relieves the nausea caused by chemo.

She should have smoked dope.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.