Cancer cures Holding out for a miracle
The Weekend Australian Magazine Richard Guilliatt
Source ‘The Australian’ newspaper or online at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/holding-out-for-a-miracle/story-e6frg8h6-1226476739168 You can take advantage of the Australian’s free offer for one month’s digital access to read the entire article.
September 22, 2012
In Today’s Australian newspaper weekend magazine Richard Guilliatt has travelled to the world of alternative versus conventional treatments for cancer patients. The alternative medicine trend has been gaining momentum around the world as more self proclaimed cancer entrepreneurs don the mantle of promised ‘cures and personal remissions.
Guilliatt’s well crafted article highlights areas not previously discussed in the world of alternative versus conventional and that is the many cancer patients are lulled into a false sense of security by the alt-med treatment regimens in the belief that they will cure themselves. He quotes me as saying:
“I do see that people can get increased levels of wellbeing from alternative treatments, but that can also be a problem – because people can feel well and think their cancer is getting better, when in fact their cancer is rocketing along in ways that medical science would have expected. And by the time they have secondary tumours in their liver or their lymphatic system, it’s too late.”
In addition patients who choose the alternative to mainstream approaches to cancer treatment often do not know the walkway and behaviour of their particular cancer. When they begin to feel well, through some type of lifestyle or diet change they often believe that because they feel well they are well. Scans, X-rays or measurements of circulating tumour stem cells that can identify how the cancer is behaving at the DNA level are most times declined with patients preferring to believe that all is well.
So – declining a monitoring process for cancer regression or progression is where much of the real trouble begins for many patients.
As a health practitioner I have a duty of care that I take seriously to provide patients with the best possible advice. True it is their choice what they do with that advice – but equally on the other side of the fence there are the many cancer entrepreneurs, including some natural therapists with little experience of cancer; or the online cancer charlatans advising “go natural” from an unqualified position. By qualified I mean more than “paper qualifications”; that is having worked with many hundreds or thousands at the coalface level for many years getting a real appreciation of the consequences of poor choices. I have seen enough in 38 years and if patients could see my album of “alt med casualties”, and realise the pain and disfigurement these patients endured, they might think differently in this 21st century of modern medicine. I have had many patients who refused all pharmaceuticals – preferring the pain because of an idealogy. Cancer Patients often have no idea of the game of Russian roulette they are playing.
Guilliatt’s article is written with a view from both sides and demonstrates the level of psychological/emotional commitment to an ideal. It opens a previously closed door of why people become so committed to an ideal that they ignore this one precious life. But that is it – an ideal. Would one trust losing their life for an ideal that was borrowed from someone else? How many more Steve Jobs, Athena Starwoman and the many unnamed thousands do we have to see or read about before we get the message: Middle path is best. Best of conventional and best of complementary medicine = better outcomes. The equation is not difficult. Personally when I go to the horse races I take each way bets – it is no different with health and survival.
Having been in a similar situation when I had to deal with real physical issues after nerve damage complications from routine surgery in 1997 – left me without bowel function. After an horrendous 13 year period and 21 surgical procedures it was a breakthrough bionic surgery that gave me back the life that had been taken. If anyone should be anti conventional medicine it should be me – however if I was to find my solution, it was not going to be an alternative medicine solution as was suggested by many of my colleagues.
At the time when I was going through that experience my only sister who had believed in natural medicine and who had not disclosed her health problem; died from a liver treatable cancer that was treatable. Like Steve Jobs had it been found and treated early she would not have succumbed to it.. By the time she asked me to be involved, her liver was 5 times its normal size. I set about advising her on tests and getting a proper diagnosis. It was devasting to discover what she had and she too felt let down by a system she had believed in.
Guiliatt also writes a poignant piece about Athena Starwoman; what I would call yet another teaching story for the alternative medicine people to take on board. “
In the New Age firmament, few shone more brightly than Athena Starwoman, the Australian spiritualist who built a global business as an astrologer and author. When she died of breast cancer in 2004, at 59, her fans were shocked, for she had given no hint of her illness. Earlier this year her closest friend, Deborah Gray, revealed that Starwoman in fact died after rejecting medical treatment in favour of “mind-body” healing, a decision she profoundly regretted at the end of her life.
Gray says she tried and failed to dissuade her friend from taking the non-medical path. After seven months of using herbal remedies, meditation and other alternative techniques, Starwoman was suffering such unbearable pain that she had to admit herself to hospital, and her condition was by then untreatable.
“Athena was very logical, she was very practical, she was not a hippy-dippy dropout,” Gray tells The Weekend Australian Magazine. “But I think what happened to her is what happens to a lot of people who get diagnosed with cancer: she went into shock. And rather than face up to what can be a very long and arduous treatment which can make you feel very sick and is very frightening, she lost her sense of what to do. She didn’t regret her beliefs, because she used her metaphysical training to face the end in an amazing way. The regret she had was that she didn’t try everything, including standard medicine. She knew that was a mistake.” Read more at the Australian Weekend Magazine.