SEPTEMBER 13, 2020

Reflecting upon the recent death of Chadwick Boseman from stage IV colon cancer, and apropos of the Washington, D.C. Entheogenic Plants and Fungus Measure of 2020, I wonder: assuming the insights found in the Patel/Goyal article and the Zhao/Wang/Ng referenced article are true, while travelling to and staying in the nation’s capital, the city that is home to Howard University, to give the 2018 commencement address at his alma mater, was Chadwick Boseman transporting, in possession of and using entheogenic plants and fungi as one of his healing modalities, not only to alleviate anxiety or depression around his medical condition, but to potentially inhibit tumor growth or abate his condition, as with iboga or chacrona? If not, would these healing modalities have extended his lifespan, if not put his cancer into remission?

According to the Schenberg article, “The first and best published report is the detailed case of Donald Topping, a former professor at the University of Hawaii and the president of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. Topping was diagnosed with colon cancer around 1988 at the age of 58 and was given a grim outlook for survival. When given a recommendation for immediate surgery, he requested a natural healing approach. A 4-month trial of a natural healing approach was performed. This regimen included ‘various substances, vegetarian diet, visualization, exercise and rest,’ which resulted in an unexpected negative biopsy, followed by a positive biopsy 2 weeks later, which was performed given the doctor’s surprise with the first result. Topping then had the surgery and was determined to be cured 5 years later. However, in September 1996, new examinations revealed cancer of the liver. In this case, the chances of survival were rated 20%–25% by one surgeon and 15% by another, which included the risks of the surgery. Additionally, after the surgery, he would require a year of intensive chemotherapy. Topping had half of his liver removed but refused to start chemotherapy, claiming that the drugs used during and after the surgery were excessive for him. He tried ayahuasca instead of the traditional chemotherapy. He then participated in two sessions of ayahuasca at a Santo Daime church in Hawaii and two shamanic healing sessions in Peru. After these sessions, he returned to an oncologist to discover that his CEA count was unexpectedly below normal. One year after the original report, he published in a new article that the metastatic cancer was still in full remission and responded to some of the many questions raised by his first report. He died in August 2003 at the age of 73.”

If chemotherapy were included, would Mr. Topping have lived longer? If an entheogenic plant like chacrona, containing naturally occurring amounts of dimethyltryptamine, used in the ayahuasca brew, were included in the treatment of Mr. Boseman, would he be alive today?