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Doctor's Motto - ABC 13 - Feb 2013

When a doctor tells a cancer patient there is no cure, some of them may decide to not even start cancer treatment. But a respected Houston oncologist says that's wrong.

Dr. Phillip Salem believes that no matter how advanced cancer is, everyone should try cancer treatment because sometimes dire predictions are proven wrong.

And his belief has paid off at least two of his patients.

"We were scared to death," Patsy Thomson said.

Thomson was told she had chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, and the longest she could hope to live was five to seven years.

"That was 19 and a half years ago," she said.

Antonio Antonio was told in San Diego his lung cancer would kill him in a matter of months.

"They think that I have only seven months of life," he said.

But both patients found hope in Dr. Salem. His philosophy: What's incurable today may be curable tomorrow.

"It is important to prolong life, even when we feel that the patient is not curable," Dr. Salem said.

Antonio began treatment with Dr. Phillip Salem, and in seven months, his lung cancer had shrunk by 92 percent.

"And the most important is the quality of life that now he's living. We are living like normal," Antonio's wife, Carmen Antonio, said.

Thomson survived long enough to get new leukemia treatments that have extended her life even longer.

"Dr. Salem said I'd probably be on medication the rest of my life, that there was not a cure, but we would maintain. And we have done that," Thomson said.

She had 19 more years with her husband, Rogers Thomson, and they even rebuilt their house, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike.

"There's no medical reason she should be alive except for Dr. Salem's approach," Rogers Thomson said.

"If you try and treat the patient, the patient might have a chance to live longer and sometimes to get cured," Dr. Salem said.

It's a cancer treatment for those told it was hopeless, and it's given the Antonios another year with their family and each other. They're grateful to their physician, who believes that every patient is entitled to treatment, and to hope.

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