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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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Community Volunteer Needs Help for Alternative Cancer Treatment

Feb. 5, 2007 — After decades of giving to the community, Rik Van Rensselaer now has friends and family members attempting to repay him by raising money to help him battle cancer.
Over the past 30 years, the St. Thomas resident has actively contributed to the community, working with such organizations as the V.I. Charter Yacht League, the Hassel Island Preservation Fund and the parent-teacher association of Antilles School. Since Van Rensselaer was diagnosed with a persistent form of thyroid cancer, friends and family have rallied around him, trying to raise enough money for a progressive form of treatment.
After diagnosing him last November with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma, doctors told Van Rensselaer that the cancer was "incurable," said Corinne Van Rensselaer, Rik's ex-wife and primary caregiver. Recently, however, a small clinic in Mexico has given the family a reason to hope. The clinic offers a homeopathic treatment it says may be able to shrink the tumor currently growing on Rik's neck.
"It's very advanced, too big to remove surgically," Corinne said in a recent telephone interview. "And because it's so close to the airways and trachea, even doing radiation is risky. The doctors have said the form of cancer he has is basically incurable, so we have been looking at alternative treatments."
Corinne specifically talked about a form of treatment offered by St. Joseph Medical Center in Mexico. "They are the only people who have said they could try to shrink the tumor," she said. "That has given him hope, and that's the most important thing."
According to the center's website, St. Joseph's is headed by Dr. Charles Rogers, who has been dubbed the "doctor of hope" for his regime of alternative cancer treatments, including respiratory lung therapy and the injection of "time-release, cancer-killing medicine."
While the center has offered the treatment to the Van Rensselaers at a discounted rate, the family is still looking to the community for some financial aid. "The treatment and the cost of living there for four weeks is $6000, which is reasonable, since the cost is generally much more," Corinne said. "But because of certain circumstances — for instance, Rik's a veteran — the center said they're going to come up with the rest."
If the treatment is successful, there is a definite possibility that Rik's quality of life will improve, Corinne added: "If they are able to shrink the tumor, it can gradually get smaller and smaller. And, once that's taken care of, the doctors said they will address some other medical problems that are currently making it more difficult to treat the cancer."
Over the past 15 years, Rik has battled other major medical issues such as progressive multiple sclerosis and bacterial meningitis, Corinne said.
"The doctors have said they will work on these conditions after the cancer is addressed," she said. "And one of the things Rik is interested in, if the treatment is successful, is being part of the process that moves this kind of thing forward — being a part of what society will accept in alternative treatments. He's always looking to see if there's a way that can help people in the future."
The journey to St. Joseph's begins this week, Corinne added. "He's very determined to do this, and will accept whatever the consequences are as a result of the treatment," she said. "So far, the community has been very generous and friends have been stepping in to contribute. It's been a rough ride — a lot of stress on the family, but we're not ready to lose him yet."
To speak to Corinne or contribute, call: (340) 626-1199, (340) 774-0608 or (340) 775-2603, or email her.
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