For David Wolfe, the same radiation treatment that saved his life more than 10 years prior was now seriously affecting his health and threatening to permanently confine him to a wheelchair. In pain and out of options, he agreed to take part in an alternative form of therapy.
In 2002 David was diagnosed with anal cancer. He followed the standard radiation treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and was declared healthy. With this terrible event behind him, he picked up the pieces and for almost a decade lived a normal life.
Everything changed in early 2013 when he started experiencing hip pains. At first, the 55-year-old blamed aging and decided to tone down his usual five-mile runs, but the symptoms were getting worse. Numbness, cramps, weakness and shooting pains made his existence a continuous nightmare, to the point that he could barely stand and even sitting was a challenge.
For three long years, David was desperate for answers. In the end, he found out the cause of pains – radiation-induced injuries from his cancer treatment.
Dr. Michael Stubblefield from the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, a leading expert in radiation fibrosis syndrome, explained that during his treatment, the DNA from cells located in his abdomen and pelvis was damaged and they began producing fibrin. The protein has a role in clotting and started to obstruct circulation to ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
Ironically enough, it was James Metz, one of the oncologists that first handled his case in 2002, that recommended to him hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Originally designed to help deep-sea divers suffering decompression sickness, and to combat carbon monoxide poisoning, the controversial treatment has been used to treat all sorts of conditions, from cancer to syphilis, with mixed results.
Up to six hours a day, for sixty days straight, David spent inhaling pure oxygen. The results were astonishing. After a few weeks, he was able to give up the pain medication and eventually was fit enough to go back to a full-time job.
His amazing recovery is a lesson of will and should remind everyone to never give up, no matter how hard the situation seems to be.