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Suspended naturopath physician speaks out about website to raise money for patients, lawyer fees
John Catanzaro, a Bothell naturopathic physician whose license was recently suspended by the state, launched a personal website this week.
The goal of the site is to raise funds not only for his defense, but to repay his patients back for the funds they invested in their individual vaccines Catanzaro was forced to destroy following his suspension. Catanzaro's Health and Wellness Institute of Integrative Medicine and Cancer Treatment is still open and treating patients, but Catanzaro is not.
"I am a doctor and I am full of compassion and the desire to help others," Catanzaro said. "My heart is broken over all of this. These are stage 4 cancer patients waiting on treatments we had to throw away and I just want to be able to pay them back for all they've lost."
Catanzaro asked for a settlement opportunity and hearing to contest the Washington Sate Department of Health's statement of charges against him, issued Jan. 24. The board suspended his license to practice at his business, Health and Wellness Institute, on Jan. 28.
The state contends that the protocol Catanzaro used to produce his treatments was unsafe, he committed unprofessional conduct and that his patients experienced injury or were placed in "unreasonable risk of harm."
Catanzaro treats his patients by talking with them about their diagnosis, drawing their blood and gathering information about their past health experiences and current lifestyle. He then prescribes IV nutrition therapies, so putting different vitamins and minerals into the body intravenously.
Catanzaro is set to have a preliminary hearing in August, but his legal team is attempting to settle the matter out of court.
"I'd rather not go to court because that means that delays me from practicing medicine even longer," Catanzaro said.
Catanzaro's website, titled "John Cantazaro's Fight for Cancer," features videos of Catanzaro discussing his practice and philosophies, his patients speaking about how his treatments helped them and ways to donate. Catanzaro's mission statement, "to be able to provide personalized cancer treatments that can save lives, for no life should be without hope," was posted in many sections of the site as well.
"If people want to generously support us in this fight, we would greatly appreciate it," Catanzaro said. "We want to move forward to provide a greater level of care for our patients and be able to sustain our mission."
Catanzaro said it was a lead oncologist at a larger-based cancer institute who reported him to the department of health. A mutual patient with stage 4 aggressive breast cancer had originally gone to the oncologist. She was told she didn't have long to live and there were no options for her. The patient was referred to Catanzaro by a friend, started personalized treatment with him and begin to see improvements immediately.
"It took about a month and then her tumor was completely gone," Catanzaro said. "I think when the patient went back to the oncologist, the oncologist thought the patient was not correctly informed of the treatments she was receiving by me. But she was fully informed and signed her consent form."
The oncologist reported him to be an imminent threat to patients in February 2012 and Catanzaro was suspended January of this year.
"I am not an imminent threat to my patients; none were harmed and this was not even a patient complaint, this was an institution complaint," Catanzaro said. "I'm not looking to bash any agency. I believe there is a bigger message here and that message is that it should be a patient's right to choose what kind of treatment they want and a doctor should have the freedom to practice it."
Catanzaro hopes at least his predicament will serve as a platform for discussing alternative medicine and a patient's right to choose their care.
"This could be used as a discussion form to provide clarity and visibility of alternative medicine, as well as a more cohesive change," he said. "The real deal is that there are people who struggle when they are in a crisis situation with their health and they need to have the freedom to choose the best type of care for themselves they want."
Catanzaro said he is not 100 percent sold that alternative medicine is the only option.
"I've always advocated blended care and have never discouraged patients from seeking conventional options," he said. "My treatments can be a great addition for, say, a patient going through chemotherapy treatments because what I offer can help thwart the side effects of the chemotherapy."
Catanzaro said this incident has caused financial trouble for his family due to legal costs and it has hit his business, as he can no longer treat his specialized patients.
"This has put everyone in a very difficult position," he said. "I don't have any patients mad at me, they are very supportive and don't understand why this is happening."
To view Catanzaro's website, visit www.fightforcancer.com/home.html.