First do no harm

20 04 2014

The Curve Ball struck us a low blow on Thursday when we were told Alistair has metastatic Prostate cancer in some of his bones. To be honest, the possibility that this was the case had been on both of our minds for quite a while although we remained hopeful that the pain was due to other reasons other than cancer.

Let me first state that right from the beginning in 2011 when Alistair was first diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, his choice was to be involved as little as possible with the established medical model and the non curative treatments it had to offer him. On our long walks through Epping Forest in the early days of his diagnosis he would say to me ” Rebeks, Ive learnt so much, I’ve changed so much and the changes we have made in our life make so much sense to me, if this thing takes me out, I still wouldn’t have done it differently, Im glad Im walking this path, its the right one for me”. And that is still his position today. You cannot bend someone and force them rigidly in to a treatment plan that not only disregards their inner most beliefs but also along the way assaults and breaks their spirit.

Its difficult to help people understand what it is like stepping into a world that completely contradicts the philosophy of health by which we try to live our lives each and every day. Every time Alistair gets sucked into more tests, more treatment plans, more cynical responses to our choices he loses his beliefs and strength to continue on his own path a little more. His sister Gillian calls it, ‘the cycle of intervention’,  it takes over and his individuality and uniqueness goes out of the window.

Alistair honours many of the principles of Naturopathic Medicine such as treating the whole person, first doing no harm, believing in the healing power of nature, promoting wellness even in the presence of disease, practising as much preventative medicine as possible, finding and treating the cause of the illness and taking responsibility for his own health and wellness from those qualified to impart their knowledge.

These principles that we both honour and Alistair deserves are not to be found in the waiting rooms of the old allopathic hospitals that we have frequented over the past  year. They are sorely lacking in the consultations we have sat through, and, although we got lucky with a fairly respectful consultant radiologist  on Thursday, we came up against the epitome of all that assaults and batters our souls in the embodiment of her colleague, a consultant senior oncologist who spoke at us for 2 minutes, totally disrespected our values, had zero interest in Alistair as a whole person and really just saw him as a specimen for his study on people who are medically fucked and could be used as research fodder for his trial.

The trial, which totally obliterates another much needed system in Alistair’s body, would cease to be effective after about 18 months and then… oh well… keep taking these other pills for the rest of your life (whats left of it) as your body won’t be able to function without them as you have zero immune system left. The immune system for gods sake, probably one of the most important systems to keep functioning well when fighting cancer!!! But you see this is the problem here, in the eyes of the medical system in this country Alistair is walking the green mile.

Thats not true though for other cancer treatment centres in other countries. They see the whole person, wholly believe that cancer, no matter how severe the grading, is treatable and curable and they uphold all of the principles in health that Alistair honours. They also provide allopathic treatments but not in a stand alone capacity but alongside naturopathic interventions that will support Alistair’s immune system and limit the damaging effect of the more conventional treatments. All of these places offer hope, faith and understanding and not one of them is available to us here in the UK or on the NHS. What a sad state of affairs for all cancer sufferers who deserve more than the one size fits all approach that has consumed and dominates the field of oncology in the UK today.

So please, I ask you to think before you glibly say to someone with cancer “get the treatment here, extend your life, do what the doctors tell you’. It takes a very strong, brave and courageous person to go their own route and withstand the cynical judgemental looks from the medical profession and people who haven’t taken the time to understand. I am honoured to have one such man as my husband, and I will stand by him and every single decision he makes about his own journey into health and wellness until my very last breath x

Never ever judge anyones choices until you have walked for 40 days in their moccasins.





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