According to Hoxsey's autobiography, You Don't Have to Die (see Resources), his family's healing saga began in 1840 when Illinois horse breeder John Hoxsey, his great grandfather, watched a favorite stallion recover from a cancerous lesion on its leg. The horse, put out to pasture to die, grazed on one particular clump of shrubs and flowering plants and healed itself. John Hoxsey picked samples of these plants, experimented with them, and formulated an herbal liquid, a salve, and a powder. He used these medications to treat cancer, fistula, and sores in horses that breeders brought from as far away as Indiana and Kentucky. The herbal formulas were handed down within the family, and Harry's father,John, a veterinary surgeon, began quietly treating human cancer patients. From the age of eight, Harry served as his father's trusted assistant. After years on the road as an itinerant healer, he opened the first Hoxsey Cancer Clinic in Dallas in 1924.
Thus began a protracted battle pitting Harry Hoxsey, an ex-coal miner and Texas oilman whose family traced its lineage to Plymouth Colony, against the American medical establishment. Hoxsey was arrested more times than any person in medical history, usually for practicing medicine without a license. But no cancer patient ever testified against him. On the contrary, his patients would gather at the jail in a show of support, hastening his release. Senators, judges, and some doctors endorsed his anticancer treatment. Although the colorful, flamboyant healer fit the stereotyped image of a quack, legions of supporters, once gravely ill with cancer, said they owed their lives and continued well-being to him.
Finally, in 1954, an independent team of ten physicians from around the United States made a two-day inspection of Hoxsey's Dallas clinic and issued a remarkable statement. After examining hundreds of case histories and interviewing patients and ax-patients, the doctors released a signed report declaring that the clinic. . . is successfully treating pathologically proven cases of cancer, both internal and external, without the use of surgery, radium or x-ray.
Accepting the standard yardstick of cases that have remained symptom-free in excess of five to six years after treatment, established by medical authorities, we have seen sufficient cases to warrant such a conclusion. Some of those presented before us have been free of symptoms as long as twenty-four years, and the physical evidence indicates that they are all enjoying exceptional health at this time.
We as a Committee feel that the Hoxsey treatment is superior to such conventional methods of treatment as x-ray, radium, and surgery. We are willing to assist this Clinic in any way possible in bringing this treatment to the American public.
But the treatment was denied to the American public. In 1924, according to Hoxsey's autobiography, Dr. Malcolm Harris, an eminent Chicago surgeon and later president of the AMA, had offered to buy out the Hoxsey anticancer tonic after watching Hoxsey successfully treat a terminal patient. Hoxsey would get 10 percent of the profits, according to the offer, but only after ten years. The AMA would set the fees, keep all the profits for the first nine years, then reap 90 percent of the profits from the tenth year on. The alleged offer would have given all control to a group of doctors including AMA boss Dr. Morris Fishbein.
Hoxsey refused the offer, or so he claims. The AMA denies that any such incident ever occurred. In any event, two things are certain: The "terminal" cancer patient, police Sergeant Thomas Mannix, fully recovered and lived another decade. And Morris Fishbein became a powerful, relentless enemy of Hoxsey.