“Twenty-five years ago, my doctors had no cure for my cancer. So I went on a quest to find my own treatment.” Glenn Sabin
In 1991, Glenn Sabin was a happy and healthy 28 year old newlywed. Then in the fall of 1991 he had some routine blood work that changed his life forever. The tests revealed that he had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), which is a cancer that begins in the lymphocytes of the bone marrow and extends into the blood and can spread to the lymph nodes and to other organs such as the liver and spleen. CLL develops when too many abnormal lymphocytes crowd out the normal blood cells, and the term “chronic” means that the abnormal lymphocytes take longer to develop and multiply. This cancer is considered harder to treat than other forms of leukemia with therapies that might include radiation, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant or immuno-therapies.
Glenn says he was shocked by the diagnosis as he had always considered himself to be a relatively healthy person who ate well and exercised regularly. Glenn’s doctors also discovered that his spleen was swollen and there was fear of it rupturing. A normal spleen weighs about 2 pounds, but Glenn’s weighed 7. He had surgery to remove his spleen and his doctors recommended that he follow that up with a bone marrow transplant. At that time Glenn says that the odds of a bone marrow transplant being successful were not in his favor, and so after careful consideration he declined it. Glenn was told there were some treatments that might help to alleviate his symptoms and possibly extend his life, but there would be no cure for the disease and his doctors suggested “watchful waiting.” Glenn says that he was determined to find another path towards healing.
He began by changing his diet to mostly organic vegetables and fruits (he ate organic in order to avoid any pesticide and herbicide contamination). He began to take a few supplements and developed a daily exercise program. In 1998, Glenn went to an alternative pharmacy in Bethesda, Maryland called The Apothecary to meet with Dr Irv Rosenberg, a pharmacist and a nutritionist who worked with patients to find natural agents that would complement their conventional therapies. Dr Rosenberg developed a supplemental protocol that was based on Glenn’s specific nutritional needs. FYI Glenn recommends that patients work with their own health professionals to develop a plan that is based upon their own nutritional needs.
The supplement recommendations for Glenn included:
- Calcium ascorbate- this is a buffered form of vitamin C
- A supplement that contained carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin
- Natural Vitamin E
- AHCC, Fermented Mushroom Complex
- Genistein (soy isoflavones)
- Inosital hexaphosphate (IP 6)
Glenn continued to have regular blood work along with bone marrow biopsies every year or two. He says that he felt fine for awhile, but then in 2003 he developed flu-like symptoms and it was discovered that the leukemia was getting worse. His doctor recommended chemotherapy but Glenn wanted a second opinion. He traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where it was discovered that his red blood cell counts were dangerously low. The doctors recommended prednisone, which is an immune suppressor, and after they stabilized the hemolysis he would be given several chemotherapeutic agents to attack the leukemia. Once again, the protocols being offered were not curative, but palliative in nature.
Glenn knew that he needed to make another choice…he had to become his own healer.
He agreed to have blood work done twice per week in order to monitor the severe anemia and then went back on his natural protocols of diet, supplements, and exercise. The exercises included swimming, meditative walks, or stretching, and he says that he could feel that his strength was beginning to return. By the third week he says that his blood counts began to show improvements, and after a few more weeks, his fever and night sweats had subsided and his blood counts showed normalization. His doctor was impressed with the quick turnaround and suggested that Glenn have a flow cytometry test that would specifically look for leukemic cells in his blood. They got the results back a few days later which confirmed there were no longer leukemic cells in Glenn’s blood. He then submitted to another bone marrow biopsy that discovered that he still had leukemic cells in the bone marrow.
In the fall of 2010, Glenn began researching the supplement EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), or green tea extract, which has been the ability to kill cancerous cells in various studies. He began taking it, but shortly afterwards it was discovered that the leukemia was coming back. He was under the guidance of integrative medicine advocate Dr Keith Block at the time, who suggested that Glenn increase his dosage of EGCG, and by 2011 Glenn’s white blood cell count began dropping steadily. In March of 2011 his WBC count measured 30,000 and by May they were down to 19,000. By July they measured at 9,400 and by November his white blood cell counts were well within the normal range. He once again agreed to have a bone marrow biopsy which confirmed the good news that he no longer had leukemic cells anywhere in his body. Subsequent testing in 2012 and 2016 confirm that he remains cancer free. You can read more about green tea extract and leukemia with this post.
Glenn wrote a book that documents his recovery titled N of 1: One Man’s Harvard-Documented Remission of Incurable Cancer Using Only Natural Methods where he recounts his decision to take matters into his own hands and become his own health advocate. Glenn does not attribute any one activity or supplement for being responsible for his healing but suggests that it was due to the synergy of his overall program. He lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife Linda, sons Miles and Jared, and mini schnauzer Leo. He is founder of FON Consulting, a business development firm dedicated to advancing integrative medicine as the new standard of care. He also writes and speaks about integrative medicine and cancer prevention.