The iconic image of a wolf on top of a mountain howling at the moon, comes to mind when I recall my posts regarding my experience with the medical model and their current orthodox treatments for cancer. I have been critical of the dominance and control of pharmaceutical multi-nationalists and the fact that cancer research is mostly funded by self-interested petro-chemical conglomerates.
I have made reference to the poor service, of a few individual specialists, surgeons and some less than attentive nursing staff. There have however been wonderful dedicated health professionals who have assisted me through the hideous orthodox cancer treatments that I have reluctantly and regretfully undertaken. There has been limited support for the benefit and use of complementary therapies, the role and value of nutrition or indeed the balance of mind and body in the healing equation. There has been no space for faith, although it has been my faith tested, that continues to keep me centred in healing.
Frankly, I have accepted along the way that as long as the medical professionals that are caring for me are not dyslexic, can identify left from right, off from on, can correctly read charts and bed signs and are experts in their field of wizardry, some will have personalities akin to a torn paper bag. Perhaps they are simply burnt out from peddling the same ‘spin’, while keeping silent as they watch over 40% of people with cancer die from malnutrition brought on by chemotherapy and radiation.
I have been outraged at throw away comments loaded with carelessness, arrogance, sexism, elitism and ignorance. I have ignored the raised eyebrows and questions regarding my capacity to comprehend the copies of medical reports that I have requested. I have been grateful for a few general practitioners who have provided copies of results without question. They perhaps felt compassion, or perceived me as the ‘walking dead’ who needed a break!
Recently I was asked if I had a medical person in the family when requesting a copy of a report. I assume to assist me to comprehend medical terminology. The much maligned Dr Google is always available as a simplifier, though I don’t recommend using it as a diagnostic tool. You may just diagnose yourself into clinical depression. The general practitioner omitted the descriptor of ‘living’ when he asked about my access to assistance, so I answered in the affirmative. It wasn’t a lie, my mother who died in 2003 was a nurse, who had her own medical dictionaries. She earned her scepticism of surgeons firsthand from the battlefront in World War II and continued to ‘self heal’ as much as possible, using complementary medicine.
Complementary medicine (CM) – is defined by Professor Jon Adams, from the University of Technology Sydney as a range of products, practices and technologies not traditionally associated with the conventional medical profession nor traditionally included in medical curricula. These include acupuncture, naturopathy, chiropractic, reflexology and massage therapy. Cited – http://www.phaa.net.au/documents/October 2011.pdf.
Ouch, I can hear the collective crunch of knuckles from less than impressive chiropractors! I also recognise the systematic desecration of naturopathic practices, from the denial of homeopathy and indigenous healing to the mockery of lack of double bind clinical trials of scientific merit. Another conspiracy theorist? No a pragmatic realist who has experienced the baptism of fire of interventionist medicine and who has been considered dispensable fodder for the consumption of expensive toxic chemicals.
Back in the early 2000’s a study conducted in Perth, by Katherine Hall and Billie-Ciles-Corti, through the Department of Public Health identified over 60 % of GP’s wanted more training in complementary medicine. In 2014, there are sparse general practitioners who would openly admit to referring patients to complementary therapy practitioners. The recent Labor Government provided subsided access for people with chronic health conditions to enable access to dieticians, physiotherapists and psychologists. How much further have we come to recognising the role of naturopathic and complementary therapies and the rights of health consumers to be informed of all options that are available? Is the medical profession dedicated to the continuation of disease by the prescription of drugs, that will be as effective as a bandaid on a bullet hole?
After being advised to not apply a naturopathic approach or be too concerned with nutrition, I decided not to share my thoughts with my oncologist nor seek approval for my choices. I did the exact opposite and applied a range of strategies to improve my immune system, lower gut and blood glucose so that chemotherapy would selectively target cancer cells and to reduce the war waged against my lymphatic system. I explored the connection between mind and body, reduced stress and abandoned alcohol. I am not alone in this space. It does not mean that current orthodox medicine is always eschewed. I would not repeat these treatments, regardless of the fact that I was included in the 2% of people for whom chemotherapy is more effective.
It is hard to perceive of light when you are in a deep dark hole with ‘experts’ forecasting a perpetual eclipse. People undertake naturopathic and complementary therapies in order to make themselves feel better, regain control over their health and to sustain hope. It is a work in progress and for those of us that have experienced cancer, an ongoing commitment to change. In the murky waters of cancer treatments, Dr David Joske a widely respected haematologist and cancer specialist was brave enough to explore the use of complementary therapies alongside current orthodox treatment responses of what I call , ‘the unholy trinity of cut, burn and poison’.
It was Dr Joske’s vision and his commitment in 2002 that led to the establishment of a centre for complementary treatments at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Today SolarisCare operates in four locations, two in the metropolitan Perth suburbs of Nedlands, Subiaco, and two in regional centres of Bunbury and Albany. SolarisCare identifies its organisational aims as improving the quality-of-life of cancer patients and their carers by providing the support to cope with the emotional and physical side effects of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. SolarisCare offers free complementary therapies, support and information to people dealing with cancer and their carers, at all of their Cancer Support Centres. Such therapies are like an oasis in a landscape of relentless wind storms and blistering hot sand. The underpinning philosophy is that complementary therapies harnesses an individual’s energy to assist their own healing and recovery.
Reflexology has soothed the neuropathy and burning sensation of the nerve damage in my feet left over from chemotherapy. Massage has relaxed a tense and pin-cushioned body with the healing of touch. Bowen has re-calibrated my fascia releasing tension in my hips and lower back and increased movement in my shoulder. The melodic strings of the harp has transported me to a place devoid of pain or fear where my mind can escape the trauma of the cancer experience.
Like all therapies, it is the complementary meshing of therapist and client. Not all therapies will resonate with each individual. It is important to be open to the possibility of healing, some what as one does when responding in faith. There are many earth angels and miracle workers who volunteer at SolarisCare through the four centres that operate in West Australia.
In the words of Dr Joske, ‘It is about empowerment and nurturing, as opposed to medical science. There is an awful lot we don’t understand. For doctors (to ignore the possibility of benefits) is disrespectful and arrogant. We must respect the right of patients when they ask for complementary therapies and set up research to try and find answers’. This is a slow train on the tracks that are owned by orthodox medicine and the pharmaceutical companies.
Dr Joske openly admits that many doctors struggle with the concept of human energy that can be channelled towards healing. There are increasing lines of evidence linking mood and immune function with successful eradication of cancer cells. There is evidence that survival rates of cancer sufferers is influenced by psychological factors, and people with a higher score on the anxiety and depression scale, are at a significantly higher risk of death and relapse.