Mojo's April Hellraiser!

Name: Janice Guthrie

What she does:

Helps patients form their own second opinions

Claim to fame:

Found alternative treatment for her own cancer

Janice Guthrie grew up next door to a public library, spending much of her free time with her nose buried in a book. So when a doctor told her 12 years ago that she faced radiation treatment for granulosa cell tumor, a rare form of ovarian cancer, she turned to where she had always sought answers in the past: the library.

This time her findings surprised her. A University of Arkansas administrator, Guthrie pored over journal articles at the school's medical library and discovered experimental alternatives to radiation, which can cause debilitating side effects, including permanent damage to the digestive system. She says, "I began to think, 'My goodness! Why would I want to do this?'"

Advertise on MotherJones.com

She decided she didn't. After contacting Dr. Felix Rutledge, a specialist who had written two of the journal articles, Guthrie opted to have the tumors surgically removed as they developed.

Invigorated by her discovery, Guthrie quit her job, borrowed $2,700, and launched The Health Resource. Although she only pulled in $693 the first year, she now provides thousands of clients (including doctors) with exhaustively researched packets of informatin gleaned from medical libraries, databases, and newsletters. Reports range from $195 to $295.

"I see mistakes made all too often," says Guthrie, 52, of the patiens who contact her. "People do have more choices than they realize, particularly those who are locked into HMOs. Many times the treatments presented are not all of those available." She speaks from experience. Despite six operations to remove recurrent tumors, she says, "I have a great quality of life. I just see surgeries as minor interruptions."

And if a client requests information from Guthrie on a certain type of ovarian cancer, they'll discover evidence of her diligence: Oft-cited in medical journals, Guthrie and her surgeon are recognized as pioneers in the treatment of granulosa cell tumor.

You can reach the Health Resource at (501) 329-5272; 564 Locust St., Conway, AR 72032.

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.