Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Getting Medical Advice

There has been a bit of controversy recently in the media because Suzanne Somers is the latest in a line of celebrities to come out and bash conventional medical for its cancer healing abilities and promote alternative medicines. She even wrote a book about it. I will say up front that I have not read her book and have no intention of doing so. I watched part of the controversial interview with Larry King. I did read the article earlier this year in Newsweek on her appearance on Oprah and I did read this article from the New York Times and another one which talked more generally on the subject. She has also described herself as a layperson on the subject. I am not a medical professional but merely a patient or person dealing with cancer myself. That being said, now I will bravely stick my toe into the conversation.

First, let's start with the statement that 'every person's cancer is different'. What works for one with seemingly identical diagnosis may not work for another. Its not just the cancer that is part of the equation but where it is exactly, spread, node involvement, tumor size, type, age, health, and general mood of the patient, etc. These all are part of the equation of what is the right course of treatment.

Second, modern medicine is based on many years of trials and tests and works at prolonging life. What is considered the best protocol at the time is usually the one which has the best results in prolonging life.

Third, alternative medicine is based on a few to thousands of years of usage. Herbs, acupuncture have been around for a while, some new modalities for only a relatively few years. They are used because they make people feel better and have had some proven success.

So how to choose? You go to a doctor and they prescribe conventional medicine. You go to a naturopath or other healer and they prescribe a different route. The route you choose is the one in which you are most comfortable. Its your body and your choices. Educate yourself and make your decisions - if you choose to use a book by a layperson as your medical reference, that is your choice. The only important thing to do is to communicate to all your caregivers that this is what you are doing and what you are taking so that nothing negates the other. For example, a reiki session just before chemotherapy might not allow you to relax as much as one the day prior or the day after. Or, another example is the fact that St. John's Wort has been proven to interact with many medications, including birth control pills (which can result in a oops 9 months later).

So communication is key. I know I spend a lot of time telling my caregivers what I am doing. Even if you tell your doctor on one visit that you went to a naturopath, remind them the next time so that they keep the big picture of what you have going on in mind. Its your body and your choices but you need to make sure you make your decisions.


BChance said...

Great Post! I completely agree with you every body is different and you have to find out what you are comfortable with when seeking medical attention for illness and disease. Thanks so much!

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