A friend of mine, his name is not Francoise, is dying of cancer. Poor chap. Francoise is a mild man with a wonderful combination of seriousness and humor that makes him so very human. His cancer was discovered late - way too late. He saw a number of doctors all of which are very professional. He got all necessary examinations, lots of highly informed and deeply thoughtful support - but there is a point when things simply don't stop to look daunting anymore. They start to look unsettling and then they give way to pure despair.
Friends of his started an email-campaign asking for help to collect six thousand Euro to get him to Switzerland and have him treated - at a homeopathic clinic. Yes, there still are organizations around that take big money to attack cancer with diluted water the price of gold-plated diamonds. The loving and concerned friends stated that they want to get him out of the hands of 'the pharma lobby' and they pushed him right into the throat of the homeopathy-carnivores. For a two-week stay at that clinic roughly 3000 US$ have to be transferred before arrival. The physicians' bills (adding up to more than 2300 US$) have to be paid *in cash* on site. Cash! Why? Was there ever anyone besides your local heroin-dealer demanding huge amounts of cash? Randomly numbered, crispy, fresh bills?
And what do you get again?
Two (2) weeks, 'Category B room' (shower and toilet down the hall), food, physicians' cost, 'treatment'. Two weeks! about 6000 US$!
His friends managed to collect the first half in no time and sent Francoise to the clinic. Shortly thereafter an email with the subject-line "Great news about Francoise!" which I happily opened, hoping to see my friend smiling. The great news? "Funding completed". That?
Now, after two weeks in Switzerland my friend returned. He is weak "but getting stronger". Has cancer tightened his grip? His weakness, he says, stems from the problems he had with the clinic-food. Francoise is not from Europe and he got sick from a nutrition he is not used to. He got diarrhea from eating stuff he normally wouldn't. He spent significant time down the hall of his category-B room. What exactly where they talking about during the promised anamnesis which is part of a three hour welcome-package, billed at 600 Swiss Francs?
Now he is back in his dumpy room at home and he asked again if I had a mattress for him. Fortunately he has lovely friends. They help him carry coal up to his apartment and keep the fire burning. They bring him food he knows and loves. He is eating, he will get stronger - until cancer hits back on him.
At the same time in Switzerland I imagine some doctors stash away the cash in pillow-cases. Maybe it helps them sleep better. Maybe it keeps the nightmares away. Their nightmares not his.