Another patient story covered in Norwegian media

Many stories of our patients are covered by the media. We wish to suppport and guide as many families as possible in this situation. Here below we have translated the newspaper article of this patient.

Rolf was diagnosed with liver cancer (after fighting stomach cancer before). The treatment offered in Norway was palliative, and hence Rolf decided to choose a suitable treatment abroad. He is to date alive and well, 8 years post his treatment, he has become father of a little girl and has given life a chance.

"The man who bought his life

Rolf Iversen should have been dead several years ago, but he survived.  Therefore, he is suing the State for his treatment cost.

What is the value of a life?

How far do you have to go to save it?

And what can you expect your tax money and mine to cover it?

In court room 10 at Stavanger Tingrett (high court)  they are trying to find answers to these questions. But first we must go back in time.

This is the story of a doomed man, a seller of hope and a treatment which really should not work. The death sentence. It is malignant.

…..

A few days before he had been at the hospital in Stavanger. He had experienced groin pain when sitting down. The pain had been there for a few weeks. He had had x-rays and ultra-sound. He was hospitalized. A woman doctor gave him the message. It was a blood clot in the groin. But what she added was much worse. There was something in the liver, something big. They had to take a biopsy to find out what it was.

Now he just got the answer.  A tumor. Malignant.

It was not the first time Rolf was ill.

He had lost a lot of weight the last few years. He has chronic kidney failure and has had kidney transplant three times. In 2009 they found cancer I his stomach. Then the stomach was removed surgically. Rolf wanted follow-up checks, but this did not happen till October 2011. Rolf came in and met the same surgeon who had operated on him in 2009. New scans were taken. The doctor said the risk of spread had passed. Rolf was cancer-free. A year later, however, he had a large tumor in the liver. Later he was to find out that the doctors had seen the tumor already the previous year, but not known what it was. They had done nothing about it..

Rolf is summoned to the hospital to begin chemotherapy the following month.

Next shock.

The chemotherapy is merely palliative, that is for pain relief. So that Rolf will not experience so much pain before he is going to die.

There is nothing they can do.

He is afraid to ask how much time he has left. In one year the tumor had gone from being something that the doctors were not sure what was, to becoming an inoperable tumor.

Had the late diagnosis cost Rolf his life? 

He was not ready to give up. At home he got in front of the PC.

A name came up. A name that gave him hope; – We work mostly with treatments that are not available in Norway.

Torkel Oftedal leans back in his chair. His style is informal in the stylish modern offices at Forus. Oftedal is not a doctor, but he knows many. He is a medical facilitator. Or a middleman. He sells “second opinions” and treatment to cancer patients. And hope. 

–  Regional chemotherapy, particle therapy, radiation therapy with CyberKnife, immunotherapy, clinical trials… Oftedal lists treatments abroad that may be relevant.   

….  His company, OncoloMed, helps Norwegian and International cancer patients find treatments abroad. Most of the patients who contact him have been given up by the Norwegian health care service.  

– There is no pressure, we do not sell anything. We get them a second opinion from different places. Whether they then wish to go abroad or not, is totally up to themselves.

Oftedal explains that he never promises patients anything – as every cancer is different.

Torkel Oftedal is the Case Manager of the company OncoloMed that assists cancer patients who wish to get treatment abroad.

Oncolomed and Oftedals name came up during Rolf Iversen’s desperate google search in 2012. He had been handed a death sentence, and emails to the US, Germany, Thailand and England had not yielded any results. From Oftedal he learned where his rescue might be.

At a clinic in a small town in Germany and a pioneering  professor.

The treatment

November 2012. Burghausen In the very south of Germany, towards the Austrian border.

Rolf Iversen is met by a white and blue hospital building. Medias Klinikum the sign reads. He has never been here before, but the doctor who is accompanying him has.

Prof. Dr.med. Karl R. Aigner. Medical Director.

This is the introduction of the doctor who is to treat Rolf the next day. He is a balding German with glasses and a white coat. He is called the pioneer within Regional chemotherapy. He has more than 30 years’ experience with this form of treatment. In contrast to ordinary chemotherapy where the chemotherapy is either administered intravenously or via pills, this chemotherapy is directed only at the tumor itself. But in Rolf’s case it has advanced very far. Aigner is uncertain. It may have developed too far. Almost 10 cm in diameter. He tells Rolf that he will try one treatment and check the effect. If it is effective, they will continue. If it does not work, that is the end of it.

If so there is no more hope.

Rolf has faith in the German. He seems experienced and competent. A few days pass before Rolfs surgery. The Professor’s team puts a catheter into his groin. The chemotherapy is transported into the tumor in the liver. It takes some 15-20 minutes. Rolf walks out of the operating room. He is in good shape. He feels no nausea, no pain.

The next four days the same procedure is repeated.

Then the scans arrive.

The treatment has been effective. The tumor has shrunk several centimetres.

Rolf makes another four trips over the next months. With each visit the tumor has grown smaller.  Rolf has to celebrate..

Then it is time for CyberKnife. It is a form of high-focus radiation therapy that is not available in Norway. There is something similar, Gammakniv, but it is intended for the skull. The treatment “burns up” most of what is left of the tumor. About 2 centimeters remain on the scans, but the doctors believe it is simply scar tissue.

Then the discussion begins. Should Rolf or the Norwegian state pay the cost since he was told he was all good a year prior to them first seeing the tumor, without letting him know?"

We are happy to have helped Iverson family in this journey.

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