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Woman in remission after treatment in Cuba
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:15PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 14, 2018 9:54AM CST
A Regina woman wants to spread the word about a vaccine she received in Cuba that she says has kept her alive.
Judy Bryden was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016, after returning home from a trip with a cold. She underwent numerous scans and, in November 2016, she began chemotherapy. Bryden said the chemotherapy nearly killed her and didn’t cure the cancer. She went through five radiation treatments, and the cancer survived. Following that, a doctor recommended palliative chemotherapy, suggesting Bryden only had one year to live.
“When they told me I had a year to live, I said I was going to prove them wrong. I didn't know how, but I was going to prove them wrong,” Bryden said.
Bryden refused a second round of chemo. It was at that time that her husband Lorne Bryden first heard about the Cimevax EGF vaccine.
"I searched the internet and found a company called CubaHeal in Brantford, Ontario,” Lorne said.“They were able to put the whole thing together for us, for a fee, of course.”
"When they found (CubaHeal), there was something about it that just felt right. It just felt right at its core,” said Pamela Bryden, Bryden's daughter.
Lorne submitted Bryden's medical information, and went on to pay $135. Bryden was approved for treatment, but they had to travel to Cuba.
The vaccine is currently not available in Canada. Health Canada says that is not because of any known safety concerns about the drug. Instead, Health Canada simply does not actively solicit new drug submissions. No application has been submitted for Cimevax EGF yet.
The vaccine works by targeting the epidural growth factor (EGF) which is a protein found naturally in the body. In certain types of cancers, the body produces too much EGF, forcing the cells to grow and divide uncontrollably.
"The company is responsible for submitting an application to Health Canada, so their product can be approved on the Canadian market. Only once we receive that application, will we review an application,” Health Canada spokesperson Renelle Briand said.
The Brydens returned from Cuba in March 2017, with four doses to be injected every 14 days. A CT scan of Bryden this past February found no cancer.
The treatment isn't cheap. A trip to Havana, plus a year’s supply of injections, costs about $14,500. But it's still much less than the $65,000 dollar treatment Lorne found for sale in Tijuana, Mexico.
"I wish Cimevax was here for people, because it's $1,000 a month that we pay," Bryden said. "It's worth it."
Bryden hopes her story encourages others to try the treatment themselves. A recent CT scan shows the cancer has not spread, and CubaHeal has approved another year of vaccines for Bryden. Lorne is planning to leave on March 19 to go pick up the vaccine.