When one listens to the story of how the king of Reggae Music, Bob Marley, hurt is toe while playing soccer, an injury that would cause his death 11 years later, it is difficult not to wonder what really killed the Reggae legend.
According to Allan “Skill” Cole who was Marley’s road manager and also a former national soccer player for Jamaica, the reggae star hurt his toe while playing with friends in 1970.
“He got a tackle from a bredda named Rusty. He hopped off the field, took off his football boots and put on a pair of sandals. We dressed the toe for about a week, had him on a diet and the swelling went down,” Cole remembered.
With the Rasta lifestyle and the kind of diet that Marley lived by, he was able to live not only a normal life for 10 years but an exceptional life that saw him rising to the top of the world where music is concerned. In fact, it was during a break from opening for the Commodores at Madison Square Garden that Bob would see the first serious repercussions from his toe injury and coincidentally it was during another game of soccer.
“We were just warming up… We were going to play some youths from Latin America, some Guatemalans. So we were warming up an’ a bounce… the rest of guys were behind us. We were about 20 yards from the crowd an’ suddenly it’s like him get a seizure an’ cry out, ‘Allan, Allan!’ Him drop inna mi hands an’ mi catch him. Froth ah come out of his mouth an’ mi put him down on the ground,” Cole recalled. “His eyes were rolling over. When he came out of the seizure, he was wet. He was sweating profusely an’ had a slight twist to his face.”
After the seizure which lasted about 15 seconds, Marley not only had the strength to play the soccer game but his team won 3-2.
After the soccer game, Cole accompanied Marley to the hospital where the doctors conducted a CAT scan of the reggae king’s brain.
“The X-ray came back and we realized that the thing (cancer caused from an injury to his right toe) had spread throughout his body. The doctor said he had no more than two weeks to live. Mi sey, ‘A rubbish unuh a talk.’ So we sent for doctor [Carlton “Pee Wee”] Fraser to come up from Jamaica. Pee Wee came up and looked at the X-ray and spoke with the doctor as well,” Cole recalled.
During this time a cancer seminar was being held in New York and Marley and Dr. Fraser went in search of a specialist.
“There was a German doctor, Dr Josef Issels, who was there. He is the only man on record to have cured that form of cancer, melanoma. He was the top cancer specialist who did not use the conventional style of curing cancer. He was anti-system and was against the drug company,” Cole said.
Issels, who was reportedly linked to Adolf Hilter’s Nazi party, was prevented from speaking to the public while at the seminar. However, Cole said they managed to track him down by getting his telephone number. Still there were some hesitations on Marley’s part to seek treatment from a man associated with Hitler. After all, Bob Marley’s father was a Jew and according to Jewish laws, if a person’s father is a Jew that makes them a Jew also.
Marley weighed the option of doing chemotherapy as recommended by the doctors he had seen or trying the unconventional treatment of Dr. Issels. As usual, Marley asked Cole for his opinion on whether he should do the chemotherapy.
“Bob asked mi what do to. I told him I wouldn’t take it, but mi nah tell him not to take it. Him have to make that decision himself, because mi nuh want nobody sey ah Allan tell him fi do it,” said Cole.
Cole disclosed that Marley got baptized in the Ethiopian Orthodox religion at his hotel and then underwent chemotherapy. However, the chemo made the situation worse rather than help his recovery.
“All him hair drop off a him head. Him couldn’t walk! On mi shoulder mi haffi carry him through the airport in New York an’ jump pon the Concorde to go to West Germany to see Dr Issels for second opinion,” Cole said.
Marley stayed there for several months and stuck to Issels’s program. There was actually initial improvement in his health but later on it started declining.
While leaving West Germany to Jamaica, Marley felt ill and was rushed to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital which is now the University of Miami Hospital, where he died on May 11, 1981. He was 36 years old.
So after the seizure in New York City, Marley was told he had less than two weeks to live, however, he lived more than 7 months after that. If the chemotherapy made the situation worse, then one has to wonder if he would have lived even longer if he had not taken the chemo.
What if Marley had skip chemotherapy and went straight to Dr. Issels program initially, could he probably have lived to see his forties. While it is impossible to know the answer, medical experts over the world agree that chemotherapy kills as many people as it cures.