By Graham Clouston

This series of seven articles on prostate and other cancer has highlighted the positive impact of Mind-Body Medicine when combined with Conventional Medicine. The following are a few closing thoughts.

Coping with the bad news

Doctor 1The words from a Clinician saying, “You have cancer”, are a shock to most people. Immediately there is concern for the future and what it may bring. Some may hear the words, “You have terminal cancer”. This is very confronting for most people.

If we unpack things a little, we have a “diagnosis” which is usually accurate and factual. If you are told that you have cancer then this view is normally evidenced by clinical tests and radiology.

Then we have a “prognosis” which is a clinical opinion of possible outcomes, based on experience, for the condition diagnosed. A “prognosis”, being an opinion, is not necessarily definitive of what a final outcome may be.

It is therefore reasonable to accept a “diagnosis” as fact and a “prognosis” as opinion, albeit an educated opinion. With a ‘terminal prognosis” it is very important not to accept the forecast outcome as a fait accompli. If you do, you may find that you could go “on time”, and you may not want that to happen.

There are plenty of examples of people recovering

There are many reported cases of people recovering from serious, including Stage 4, cancers. These survivors invariably use Mind-Body Medicine in addition to Conventional Medicine.

A very good read on the subject which comes highly recommended is Dr Kelly Turner’s Radical Remission. Dr Turner’s research was funded by the American Cancer Society. She interviewed several hundred cancer survivors, people for who western Conventional Medicine had done all that it could, but not enough to remit their cancer. These people used nine common factors, all aspects of Mind Body Medicine, to move into long term cancer remission.

It is possible to improve a cancer outcome using Integrative Oncology (Integrative Oncology is Conventional Oncology and Mind-Body Medicine working together). This hope, which is very real, is based on the knowledge that others have done so. The alternative is to be without hope and this would not be helpful in any situation, let alone when dealing with a cancer.

Having support and hope

Cancer SocietySocial support is important for persons with serious and/or life threatening disease. This support may come from family, friends, a church, or perhaps from organisations such as the Cancer Society. In New Plymouth where I live, the Cancer Society is very active, providing gym based exercise groups, walking groups, and classes in Qi gong, relaxation/yoga, meditation and life skills. There is practical support provided by qualified staff. Reiki massage is available and there are Men’s and Women’s support groups that meet monthly. A sense of positive support and belonging is reported by those who engage.

If you have serious disease make sure that you do have good social support. My recommendation is that you also include the Cancer Society as part of your support base.

There is hope that the combination of Conventional Medicine and Mind Body Medicine will achieve a better outcome than may have been expected. This is my world.

There is hope that new treatments, both fully funded and unfunded, will become available. In the nearly four years that I have been on my own cancer journey I have seen that happening for others with some great outcomes.

Be positive on the journey

CancerIf you too are on a cancer journey, it should be just that, a “journey” and not a “battle”. Battles are about war, struggle, grief and misery. A journey is an adventure. Cancer need not be a bad thing. Unwelcome yes, but strangely not necessarily a disaster. Take the “journey”, enjoy life, be positive, and cast aside the negativity of the “battle” mentality.

You will be better for it

I hope that you have gained something from this series on cancer. If you do have cancer or other serious disease, I hope that the treatments you have chosen bring you wellness and peace.