Former US president Jimmy Carter announced his brain cancer has disappeared, but is it due to a miracle or a medical miracle?
In August 2015 former President Carter had elective surgery to remove a tumor on his liver. As a part of the process a scan discovered four spots on his brain. The diagnosis was stage IV melanoma. Stage IV melanoma is a kind of cancer that starts in the cells that produce the pigment that gives your skin its color, known as melanocytes. A stage IV diagnosis means it has spread via the bloodstream, or through the lymphatic system, to other areas of the body. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that approximately 76,160 cases of melanoma (also referred to as malignant melanoma) were diagnosed in the United States in 2014. While melanoma accounts for only approximately 5% of skin cancer cases, it is estimated to be responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. The prognosis is generally not good for a person diagnosed with stage IV melanoma, especially one that has spread to the liver and the brain. The overall 5-year survival rate is about 15% to 20%, depending on the age and overall health of the person. The median survival is 6-10 months. The traditional course of treatment is surgery to remove tumors, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and more recently, clinical trials, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. However, these numbers may be changing as the newer immunotherapy and targeted therapy have led to important improvements in patient outcomes. Recently an immunotherapy treatment made the news when it arrested acute lymphoblastic leukemia, saving the life of an infant in the UK.
Pembrolizumab breakthrough treatment
Former President Jimmy Carter was given a new breakthrough treatment Pembrolizumab. Pembrolizumab is sold under the brand name Keytruda and was developed by Merck & Co., Inc. in the United States. In September 2014 it was one of the first immunotherapy drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Instead of killing cancer cells, immunotherapy drugs are designed to boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Pembrolizumab is a monoclonal antibody. Recent studies involving Pembrolizumab have shown the drug has increased overall survival of melanoma patients. Although the long term outlook is still unknown, it is only thought to extend survival in patients and not necessarily be a cure.
Science Proves the Healing Power of Prayer
It’s no secret that former President Jimmy Carter is a devout man. Carter was born and raised in Plains, Georgia as a Southern Baptist. He continued his religious beliefs into adulthood. He attends church everywhere he travels, teaches Sunday school, performs missionary work and is known to pray every day. Prayer groups around the world have undoubtedly been praying for the healing of the former President, along with his family and friends. For the devout, there never has been any question that prayer has the power to heal, but others are skeptical and want scientific proof. Current research from leading hospitals and universities across the U.S. has shown conclusively a belief in God really is good for you, making you healthier and happier, and helping you live longer. Prayer is a practice that reaches across all religions, and even to those who do not believe in a deity. “Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick – and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster,” Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D., states. An extensive review of more than 1,500 reputable medical studies “indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health.” And out of 125 studies that looked at the link between health and regular worship, 85 showed regular churchgoers live longer. A CNN poll concluded that 73% of Americans believe in the power of prayer. Research that primarily focused on the power of prayer in healing has almost doubled in the last decade.
So is it possible that former President Jimmy Carter has been healed by God or by a new breakthrough drug? Maybe both.