The story of Ben Williams

2 November 2019 2 By Roberto Pugliese

At the age of 50, I had surgery for a glioblastoma multiforme on March 31, 1995, after an MRI after an MRI scan in the emergency room the day before. The tumor was in my right parietal cortex and was very large (it was about 180cc and described as “the size of a large orange”). My neurosurgeon later told me that I would die within two weeks without the surgery.

During the first two months after my diagnosis, I spent many hours on the Internet and in the library of our medical school, learning all that I could about possible treatment options. Initially, I read about boron neutron capture therapy, gene therapy, and radiation-loaded monoclonal antibodies that seemed much more promising than conventional treatment, but I didn’t try them on the basis of likely side effects and problems of various kinds. I therefore opted for conventional chemotherapy, but in combination with other agents that seemed to improve its effectiveness.

All my MRI scans following chemotherapy were clean. During my first year of treatment, I added various dietary supplements that can be obtained in most health food stores. The inspiration for the various treatments and adjuvant foods that I used came from different sources. Much of it stemmed from my research on Medline, and sometimes after hearing about treatment by participants in an online support group. I also found the Musella Foundation web page as a valuable source of information.

My therapeutic philosophy was very similar to the therapeutic approach developed for AIDS. Both HIV and cancer involve biological entities that change at a high rate, so unless a treatment is almost instantaneously effective, the dynamics of evolution will create new forms resistant to any treatment. However, if several treatments are used simultaneously (rather than sequentially as is usually the case), each mutation has a lower probability of being successful.

A second feature of my treatment philosophy is that any successful treatment must be of a systemic nature, since it is impossible to identify all the extensions of a tumor penetrating the healthy tissue.

Ben Williams, a 24-year survivor of a glioblastoma, is the author of the book Surviving Terminal Cancer printed in 2002: clinical trials, drug cocktails and other altri treatments your oncologist won’t tell you about. On the website virtualtrials.com, he published many updates of this book and as well as a 2017 update of the long report entitled “Treatment options for malignant gliomas.” To access these important sources, go to: www.virtualtrials.com/williams.cfm.