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Chaz Hing and the 12 Vanishing Tumors - A Mushroom Monday Project

Hey friends,


About a month ago I caught wind of an impressive, borderline miraculous, story of a man who used mushrooms to treat his chemo-resistant stage IV cancer. That man is Chaz Hing and I was able to catch up with him a couple weeks ago at his mushroom lab in Boston. The following is his story.


As a disclaimer, I’m obviously not a medical professional, I just want to bring his inspiring story to light. You have the ability to make your own informed decisions when it comes to your health and wellness, but perhaps his story will give you some added insight.


Chaz in front of his lab space at Artisan’s Asylum in Boston.
Chaz in front of his lab space at Artisan’s Asylum in Boston.

Diagnosis


One of the first questions I asked him is one that I imagine almost everyone thinks about when they can’t sleep at night, “how do you know you have cancer?” For Chaz, his symptoms were gastrointestinal. He said they began when he was 27 and he consistently had diarrhea to the point where he had to avoid certain foods in certain situations. This went on for a couple years.


Chaz’s GI issues turned bloody which prompted him to seek medical attention. It was eventually revealed that he had a tumor on his liver (which was where the blood was coming from) and doctors estimated it could have been there, slowly growing, for 10 years.


Chaz admits that in college, and parts of his twenties, his lifestyle wasn’t the epitome of health. He had a nicotine addiction that led to the consumption of several Juul pods each evening - now it’s evident that one pod is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes. He’s also allergic to alcohol but didn’t let that diminish his college experience because he still drank from time to time.


Could these substances have been the cause of his cancer? Chaz seems to think so, and especially since alcohol gets filtered through the liver it’s safe to say it wasn’t helping.


Chaz with a contraption he created to keep mice from eating the grains he uses to grow mushrooms.
Chaz with a contraption he created to keep mice from eating the grains he uses to grow mushrooms.

Treatment

Doctors at a prominent Boston hospital offered Chaz two options: he could undergo a minimally invasive surgery that would slice the tumor off his liver, or he could undergo a major surgery which would remove his rectum and part of his large intestine. A pre-med chemistry student himself, Chaz consulted some of his friends who were doctors and was recommended the less-invasive surgery. The thinking was that if the doctors had given him an option for a minor surgery, this hopefully meant the cancer wasn’t too severe.


Chaz had the tumor removed and also underwent chemotherapy. He was in remission for two years but unfortunately the cancer returned. This time in a different location on his liver and now it was considered stage III - it had also moved into his lymph nodes. The doctors gave him no choice and he had to do the major surgery. They told him it was necessary to save his life, but in his words, “they fucked me up”.


After the major surgery he continued with chemo, but just a few months later he gets a scan that delivered the news no one wants to hear. The cancer had returned, again, and this time it’s Stage IV. There are 12 tumors in his liver, they are chemo-resistant, and the disease is too widespread to try another surgery. The doctors tell him he’s terminal and he has two years to live.


A simplistic graphic of liver cancer development from Pace Hospitals in India (Reference 1).
A simplistic graphic of liver cancer development from Pace Hospitals in India (Reference 1).

At this point, the doctors wanted to install an experimental frion-powered chemo pump in front of his liver to potentially extend his lifespan. He asked, “well, when does the pump come out?” No one could give him a straight answer because, as he found out, it doesn’t come out - you just eventually die from the cancer. Clinically, it’s not effective.


At this point, all the treatments he had received from this hospital and these doctors had not worked. There were further issues that went beyond the efficacy of treatment that left him very dissatisfied with the hospital and the medical establishment in general. He sought a second opinion, not just from another hospital but from anyone or anywhere else.


Second Opinion


He began another round of chemo treatment at another Boston hospital. This round was more of a more palliative type of chemo since the first round didn’t work, and at this point he felt like his fate was sealed. He fell into darkness. He was dying. He started his own research about his cancer, mostly just trying to understand how he was going to die. He approached it from a scientific point of view by asking “Why? Why and how is this cancer going to kill me?”


He found that there were basically two mechanisms through which the cancer would kill him: it would completely compromise his liver to the point of failure, or it will out-metabolize the rest of his body and he’ll wither away. Grim.


Toadstools of Hope


Just as he began to come to grips with his fate, he stumbled upon a meta-study out of India that would change the trajectory of his life entirely (a meta-study is a type of scientific study that compiles and analyzes other scientific studies) . You can access this study here and it’s fully cited in Reference 2. The study looks at the scientific evidence surrounding twenty different species of mushrooms and their purported anti-cancer properties.


Figure 1 from Reference 2.
Figure 1 from Reference 2.

Chaz saw the graphic and ran with it. He had previously delved into mycology in an undergraduate entomology lab at University of Delaware. He researched cordyceps and entomopathogenic fungi as a bio-control for the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), but he’d never thought of mushrooms as medicine. Especially not as a treatment for his cancer. This was the beacon of light he needed.


He saw that mushroom extracts the researchers were using were rather simple - either water or alcohol extracts - and they were injected right into the tumor. He didn’t have the capability to inject mushroom extracts into his tumors, but he could set out to find and ingest as many of the mushrooms in the figure as he could. He focused particularly on Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum complex) which impacts the liver and GI system. He also wanted to ingest fresh mushrooms because he suspected they had the most potent compounds and some might degrade as the mushrooms dried or aged.


Chaz holding Reishi he cultivates and extracts into tinctures.
Chaz holding Reishi he cultivates and extracts into tinctures.

He found he could source a handful of the mushrooms in Figure 1 from grocery stores. Whole foods might have oysters and button mushrooms, Wegman’s would have lions mane and hen of the woods, but the asian markets like H-Mart would have up to six different species of fresh mushrooms.


He would go to the supplement sections of these stores and grab whatever mushroom supplements they had - regardless of their quality (some mushroom supplements made from mycelium, not the actual mushroom, are regarded as poorer in quality). He would use alcohol tinctures in his meals as well. Everything he couldn’t get in a store he try to forage in the woods. He was getting and ingesting whatever he could, he wanted the broadest spectrum of fungal molecules he could obtain.


There wasn’t any quantitative analysis with hard numbers, as he didn’t even know if this last ditch attempt would work, but he just focused on ingesting a fistful size of mushrooms with every meal. He cleaned up the rest of his diet too. He eliminated red meat and carbs/sugars. He focused on consuming mushrooms, vegetables (bok choy, asparagus, zucchini, and other asian vegetables), and occasionally would have chicken. This borders on “too much information”, but he had a colostomy bag from his prior surgery and was able to see the effects of his diet in real-time. Even high quality grains like forbidden rice didn’t digest well.


Chaz in front of the 3D printing section of his lab.
Chaz in front of the 3D printing section of his lab.

Throughout the process, he wasn’t feeling physically sick but he did feel death-marked. He continued with the second line of chemotherapy which is more of a palliative/stabilizer and perhaps slows the development of additional tumors. When he’d go out foraging he was only successful around 1/3 of the time, the majority of that time was spent cursing the mosquitos and wondering why he was spending his precious remaining days getting eaten alive.


He continued with the mushroom and vegetable heavy diet. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that he really doesn’t enjoy eating mushrooms at all. He thinks he ate so many mushrooms that he made his digestive system intolerant to mushrooms, and might now be allergic to them. He got to a point where he described eating them like he was choking down rubber bands. But he persisted and after three months he got another scan.


Two tumors. He went from twelve aggressive, chemo-resistant, inoperable tumors - one as large as three centimeters across - to just two tumors. The scan after that there were none. Twelve tumors gone from his liver. He was left wondering - as we all probably are - how was this possible?


From his understanding there are two theories regarding inflammation and cancer: inflammation causes cancer or inflammation destroys cancer. Contrasting points of view that illuminate how little we know about some cancers. Aside from the restrictive diet, he believes the Reishi extracts he consumed inflamed his liver and helped his body’s immune system focus on the area.


Chaz and the pasteurizer he created to sterilize the substrate from which he grows his mushrooms.
Chaz and the pasteurizer he created to sterilize the substrate from which he grows his mushrooms.

Where We Are Today


His current doctors consider him an anomaly, they’d only ever seen one other patient like him, but they unfortunately weren’t very interested in his mushroom and veggie diet either. They basically just left it at “whatever you’re doing, keep doing”. His mushroom diet didn’t fit into the scientific method, nor does it really jive with the reactive nature of modern medicine, so it didn’t seem worth their time. I mean just think about the food you get served when you’re in a hospital… we’ve got a long way to go.


People that were in Chaz’s situation, that received his diagnosis, typically only live three and a half years. He’s just over two right now. If he can make it to five years without the cancer returning his life expectancy rockets up to 20+ years.


He still gets chemo every other week which completely wipes his energy for the majority of that week, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future. He enlightened me that the first chemotherapy was derived from mustard gas, and to this day the treatment is still like treating cancer with a sledgehammer. He’s still eating mushrooms and taking extracts, but not at the same veracity as he was when he was riddled with tumors. A maintenance dose, basically.


Chaz with his armada of stainless steel pressure cookers.
Chaz with his armada of stainless steel pressure cookers.

Very Fungi


He’s not letting the chemo slow him down, though. Before the cancer he was a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, inspired by his mother who herself is an entrepreneur. Chaz helped his mom start a software company and he had a six-figure 3D printed aquarium business before the cancer forced him to shelve those projects. He also has a patent pending for blockchain cyber security solutions and is in the process of defending that right now.


Through his networking and previous endeavors, he ended up getting on the short-list for a competition to pitch a start-up just six months after he went into remission. He knew this was an opportunity to combine his 3D printing proficiency with the profound healing power of mushrooms. His pitch was a 3D-printed, grow-your-own mushrooms chamber for cancer patients. He won first place in the competition.


Check for his first place finish.
Check for his first place finish.

That was enough to prove his idea could be a legitimate business and he’s spawned that into Very Fungi. He has a small lab at the Artisan’s Asylum in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. The Artisan’s Asylum is a communal workspace made up of two large warehouse-style buildings that house woodworking, metalworking, 3D-printing, robotics, and other workshops for use by members. He currently supplies mushroom farms with mushroom blocks while he gets his first 3D printed grow-your-own mushroom kit ready for production.


Spiritual Entropy


The mushrooms not only helped cure his cancer, but they’ve also spiritually guided him to where he is today. He wants his start-up to focus on cancer patients because he knows what they’re feeling. He wants those people to have hope, and to have the same second chance that the mushrooms have given him.


He describes a spiritual entropy (entropy is basically a measure of randomness) where the universe pulls toward a low-entropy state (an area of stability, of low variance). This spiritual entropy has pushed him to mycology - a field of science that has been overlooked and understudied throughout most of scientific history. He believes he has the skills and gifts to help address one of humanity’s biggest problems: cancer. He’s been pouring his all into this for a year, spending 100+ hours a week in his lab then getting chemically bombed by chemo the following week. Repeating this biweekly cycle and making progress where he can.


But, like any fledgling company, he’s made plenty of mistakes. He spread himself thin on different research and development, and invested precious financial resources into avenues that turned out to be dead-ends. He’s currently got the business to be viable by selling myceliated blocks to mushroom farms, which allows mushrooms to get to farmers markets, but that isn’t fulfilling him. He wants to get mushroom grow kits to cancer patients, he wants to have a profound impact on people. That’s where the spiritual entropy is moving him.


Support Chaz and Very Fungi


Very Fungi’s limiting factors right now are space and funding. If you’ve been moved by his story, you can contribute to his GoFundMe here. He said any funding helps, in his words he’s “stupid poor right now”, and he’s keeping things going on a month to month basis. He also said if any Mushroom Monday readers contribute to his Gofundme, and make a note of that in the comment, he will send you a free mushroom grow kit once they’re available. A very cool gesture.


Closing Note


I want to thank Chaz for taking the time to share his story with me. I want to thank you for reading his story. This was the first time I’ve done a story like this for Mushroom Monday, but it won’t be the last.


This work was made possible by the generous financial contributors to my Substack. If you want to see more work like this please consider becoming a paid subscriber.


Keep your mind open and eat more mushrooms,

Aubrey


References:

  1. Patel S, Goyal A. Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. 3 Biotech. 2012 Mar;2(1):1-15. doi: 10.1007/s13205-011-0036-2. Epub 2011 Nov 25. PMID: 22582152; PMCID: PMC3339609.

  2. https://www.pacehospital.com/liver-cancer-symptoms-causes-types-complications-and-prevention

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