Alternative Therapies

I’ve had a few questions about alternative therapies during my treatment, and a few people insisting that I was crazy for trusting mainstream medicine. I decided to go with something that was evidence-based and with measurable results. Yes, there’s no guaranteed cure for cancer but mainstream medicine still provides you with your best possible chance of beating it.

When it comes to alternative therapies, I’ll now be sending people a copy of this excellent article:

Such a worthwhile read. Please take the time.

Here’s the last few paragraphs just to give you a taste:

The community practitioners who are best at checking in with oncologists are physiotherapists, palliative care nurses and general practitioners. They seem to have no qualms about sharing doubt, seeking advice and negotiating compromise.

But the point of many alternative therapies seems to be in their secret powers of healing. I know it’s often said but I honestly don’t consider arrogance a good explanation for why oncologists and alternative practitioners don’t talk. I would, however, say that dismay and distrust feature heavily. As does the troubling realisation that a doctor can face reprimand for inadvertent error but an alternative practitioner can get away with intentional harm.

This is not a reason to excuse the former but to regulate the latter. Perhaps this would make it easier to follow the advice that doctors need to familiarise themselves with the various forms of complementary and alternative medicines. It is conceivable that some worthwhile measures are tainted by the same brush as a lot of fraudulent ones.

Health literacy moves at a very slow pace. The alternative health industry, worth many billions of dollars, marches briskly. It will always attract unguarded patients who will cling to the faintest promise of recovery without associated harm. Whenever money changes hands and the premise sounds too good to be true, the motto remains: Caveat Emptor.

Indeed. Caveat Emptor is latin for ‘buyer beware’, in other words, the onus is on the individual to do their own checks into the legitimacy of any alternative treatment (and any mainstream treatment for that matter).

Unfortunately the internet is full of people happy to take your money or denigrate medical professionals.

I’ve said it before; I wish everyone giving out specific medical advice was held to the same standard of accountability as doctors.


2 thoughts on “Alternative Therapies

  1. An excellent article Meg. I was diagnosed at the same time as a woman who intended to forgo traditional treatment in favour of herbal concoctions on the advice of her mother-in-law. (Not a Doctor.)These “healers” definitely need to be regulated and answerable for their actions and outcomes. Very sad to learn of Jess Ainscough’s death – her mother’s death when Gerson treatment failed apparently shattered her. This article should be compulsory reading for the newly diagnosed. I doubt people realise how unregulated they are, however well-intentioned. So glad you have drawn attention to this. As always you are right on the mark. Michelle R

    • Thanks for your great feedback, Michelle. I find it so sad. Every so often you see a comment on an alternative therapy page from someone who lost a parent or a partner or a child to alternative medicine, but for the most part their failures go unreported, unrecognised and attributed to ‘non compliance’ or some other factor.


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