Mesothelioma Patient Profile: Charlene Kaforey

Mesothelioma Patient Profile: Charlene Kaforey

We have traditionally used the “Recent News” section of this website to report on the latest findings in mesothelioma and asbestos research. Most of the stories we’ve covered have been summaries of the latest articles from scientific journals, so the content has been fairly technical. We will continue to report on all of the latest research, but we are also expanding the coverage to include stories about people who are living with mesothelioma. Research into the disease only exists because of the people who are battling it, so we want to highlight the men and women who are bravely fighting pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma, as well as the other, more rare forms of the disease: pericardial mesothelioma and reproductive mesothelioma.


Charlene Kaforey is a woman from New York diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in July of 2007. She is currently undergoing immunotherapy under the guidance of a cancer center in the Bahamas and is responding very well to the treatment. We are proud to be able to tell Charlene’s story and believe her fight against mesothelioma is an inspiration to everyone diagnosed with the disease.

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

Charlene underwent an abdominal CT in March of 2007 which revealed abnormal spotting in her lower left lung. Her doctors then scheduled a follow-up chest CT the following May, which showed even more spotting. Charlene’s doctors initially suspected lymphoma, but when this was ruled out they wanted to take a wait-and-see approach and then re-examine her in six months. Many people may have simply taken the doctors’ advice and waited, but Charlene demanded a lung biopsy and was given one. Her strength and independence of mind, on display here, will be seen throughout her story.

The results of Charlene’s lung biopsy shocked everyone involved, but her most of all. The biopsy revealed she had pleural mesothelioma and then further testing discovered it had spread to her lymph nodes, which is a sign of more advanced disease. Charlene thus found herself as a Stage III patient for a disease she had barely heard of. Not sure of just how to proceed, she soon began chemotherapy after consulting with some of the finest mesothelioma physicians in New York and Boston, who recommended that she complete the traditional, trimodal mesothelioma treatment protocol of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. However, Charlene was not sure if trimodal therapy was in her best interest. She consulted with her personal physicians and they, too, agreed that the standard therapies were probably not for her. In describing her decision, Charlene said, “When I looked at the research papers, I realized that the conventional approach of surgery, chemo, radiation, would likely give me at most 30 months, and more likely 12-18 months. I had very few symptoms. For me, surgery meant giving up my ‘good health’ forever and then probably having a short survival afterward. It didn’t make sense. Why go through all of that for the little time it gives in return?”

Mesothelioma Treatment with ITL Alternative Cancer Treatment Clinic

This is another example of Charlene’s independence and inner strength. Instead of beginning trimodal theory, Charlene researched alternative mesothelioma treatments and soon found information about the ITL Alternative Cancer Treatment Clinic, a cancer clinic located in the Bahamas that specializes in Immuno-Augmentative therapy, which is treatment that attempts to train the body’s own immune system to fight off the cancer. While this treatment is considered experimental by conventional medicine, ITL has been successfully treating cancer patients with this therapy for over 30 years. When Charlene discovered ITL, she continued to read more and more about the Clinic and its methods and she also took the opportunity to speak with other patients under ITL’s care. She recalled, “When I found the clinic, I talked to women with meso who were out 6 years from diagnosis with more advanced initial cases then mine. It was reason for hope.” Charlene then applied for the treatment through the clinic’s website and was notified of her acceptance into the program a few days later. With renewed hope, Charlene then began to plan for her travel to the Clinic.

ITL is located in the Bahamas, so patients who are accepted into the program must travel to the Bahamas for an eight week initial visit and then must return every 4 months for two weeks at a time. The Clinic itself is an outpatient facility, so people who come to the Bahamas for ITL must secure lodging at a site off the ITL campus. During Charlene’s stays at the Clinic, she has blood drawn every morning which is then analyzed and used to develop the serum and vaccine injections that she will be given to treat her mesothelioma. After the first eight week visit and then each subsequent two week visit, she returns home with sixteen weeks worth of medicine. When she completes this treatment cycle, she returns again to the clinic for a follow-up and the next round of injections, and will continue this process again and again.

When she’s home, Charlene personally manages her treatment injections. She makes six to twelve daily injections of the Immuno-Augmentative therapy, as well as weekly intravenous Vitamin C treatments. When she began therapy, Charlene also received 12 weeks of bi-weekly injections of dendritic cell and heat shock protein vaccines. ITL makes clear that their therapies are not a cure for one’s cancer, but are treatments that train the body’s immune system to mange the cancer and to contain its growth. This system requires one to make these injections for the rest of one’s life. Because of this, Charlene, and others patients at ITL, liken their Immuno-Augmentative treatments to insulin injections for diabetics.

Positive Results of Treatment

When we asked Charlene how the treatment was working for her, she said that her initial results have been very positive. She recently completed her first CT scan since beginning treatment and it has revealed less visible cancer, as well less fluid build-up and less pleural thickening than previously seen. Her physician team back home is excited about her progress, especially her oncologist, who is encouraging her to keep up with the treatments.

Not only is the treatment working, but it’s doing so without any significant side effects. Although some people are often quite tired when beginning the treatments, Charlene said she hasn’t had any treatment effects and feels better overall, especially when compared with the side effects she experienced undergoing chemotherapy.


We couldn’t be happier for Charlene and her family now that she is responding well to the treatment. A diagnosis of mesothelioma can be a devastating event for any family, but innovative doctors are doing everything in their power to change the treatment equation that has historically been characteristic of mesothelioma. Not everyone may respond to ITL’s treatments, but many people have responded and for them, ITL has offered the one thing that is so rarely found among people undergoing mesothelioma treatment: hope.

Hope is also what emerges most from Charlene’s story: hope for her and for her family, as well as hope for other people with pleural mesothelioma who find her story and are inspired by it. Charlene has spoken of the hope that ITL inspired in her and we can now speak of the hope that she may inspire in others as well.

When we asked Charlene if she would recommend ITL to others, she enthusiastically responded that she would. Her words here are a fitting conclusion to this story:

“I am thrilled with my results so far, even my oncologist said ‘its working! Keep doing it!’ ... I have met so many patients there [ITL] with great success stories. I now have confirmed positive results as well. I would strongly recommend this to others. Any one with cancer needs to give it serious consideration.”

We hope Charlene and her family the best.


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