Tag Archives: cancer treatment

Complementary Therapy

First, it’s important to distinguish between alternative and complementary therapy.  Alternative therapy is used instead of standard or mainstream medical treatment whereas complementary therapy is used alongside conventional medical care.  Alternative therapy generally implies rejecting mainstream anti-cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery) and is largely lacking in biological and scientific evidence of efficacy and also can be of questionable safety.  Because of this the medical establishment is generally not supportive of alternative therapy. Over the past decade or so, complementary therapies have become increasingly acceptable and popular as part of cancer care and few cancer specialists would argue against the use of complementary therapies alongside conventional treatment to ease the side effects of radiation or drug therapy, strengthen the immune system and improve well-being.

Combining complementary therapies with mainstream oncology care is commonly known as integrative therapy and is a total holistic approach involving the patient’s mind, body and spirit. By supporting this approach, the cancer physician enables a patient to have an active role in their own care and this in turn improves the overall quality of cancer care and well-being of patients and their families. The ability of the patient to choose the therapy and when to have it, helps to restore some control over their life which can sometimes feel  hi-jacked by a feeling of having to passively endure their medical treatments. These non-pharmacological therapies can lift your mood and spirit, reduce anxiety and stress, alleviate symptoms and side effects such as pain and nausea, and can enhance quality of life and recovery.

There is a rich array of complementary therapies such as meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, nutritional support, counselling, massage etc, and in The Cancer Journey – Positive Steps To Help Yourself Heal we describe lots of these.

Your cancer diagnosis – what to do with a cancer diagnosis

Being told that you have cancer is an intensely frightening experience. Although we all react in our own unique way, for most of us it brings an overwhelming and sickening fear and feels like our world is suddenly spiralling out of our control. Often the words, ‘You have cancer’ is the last clear thing you hear in that initial appointment because the rest of the conversation becomes a blur.

Our advice for this consultation would be to take someone with you who knows you very well. While you will want to put your hands over your ears like a child who doesn’t want to hear what’s being said and hope it will go away, they will hopefully assume responsibility for hearing what will happen next and make sure your needs are met as well as making sure you get home in one piece.

Knowing how to communicate your diagnosis to friends and family can be difficult so we have provided you with some suggestions in Chapter 4 that will give you some guidance.

Here are 5 of 15 questions that will be useful to ask your doctor.

1. What tests will I need?

2. When will tests/treatment start?

3. Is surgery/treatment absolutely necessary?

4. What are my treatment choices and what are the benefits/risks of each?

5. What is the success rate of treatment for this cancer?

Stay tuned for more excerpts from The Cancer Journey – Positive Steps to Help Yourself Heal.