After surgery I’m now having three months of treatment to try and control the spread of cancer. I never really considered what treatment meant before now, taking a couple of tablets to get rid of a headache was probably the extent of my exposure to “treatment”, but now I realise that there are many different types.
At the core is the medical care; drugs, visits to clinic, blood tests, scans, surgery. It forms the heart and structure to my treatment both in terms of being the most powerful and the impact it has on my life. My days and weeks are built around each appointment, drug administration etc. The list of potential side effects is huge as is the hope that it could make a difference. This is all lead by the doctors and it is probably the element that most of us are familiar with.
Around this core is the treatment, or care, from the nurses. For me they are the people who may administer the drugs, provide reassurance, a source of information and emotional support that fills in the gaps around the core medical treatment. It was a nurse who told me that after surgery my arm would be numb and I may not get feeling back, that following the removal of the drain post surgery, I might feel worse, who gave me the info for the support centre, who responded to my worries about some of the side effects. Their treatment and care is at the end of phone, it is there each day, it is more personal and is an essential part of getting through it.
A few months ago I might have stopped there – where else can you get treatment? But I’ve discovered that it it doesn’t have to stop there. There are other facets to my treatment which I suspect do not figure on any NHS treatment plan but all play an essential role in helping me get through each day.
For me the next layer are a whole host of holistic therapies which help support my resilience and mental health. I’ve chosen to seek the advice of a nutritionalist and as a result I have altered my diet to include some of the research based cancer fighting foods, so now (most of the time!) I try to eat foods that have more nutritional value. I consulted a herbalist and have a herbal remedy that I take twice a day. Both practitioners work hand in hand with the medical team to make sure that any advice they give me doesn’t interfere with the other elements of my treatment. I do yoga each week, again, the yoga teacher knows my diagnosis and advises on adaptations and alterations on each move where appropriate. And I have Rieki treatment once a week. All these are my own choice and accessed either privately or through a charity. I work on the principle that each of them can do no harm. Even if you don’t believe that certain foods fight cancer, there is nothing wrong in eating food that is good for you and cutting out the stuff which isn’t so good. Yoga helps me stretch and stay supple, at the very least I get to relax for an hour each week during my Reiki session.
Still it doesn’t stop there, outside this I have the support from family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, you name it, all those people who touch my life and just help me through. Ok it isn’t treatment in the medical sense but there is no doubting the difference this group of people make to my mental health and my ability to cope with the drugs. Having someone to talk to, someone to listen, someone to be there when I am feeling bad, upset, hopeless, someone to make me laugh and forget for the moment what is happening to me. At my lowest point, it wasn’t a doctor who got me out of it, it was a silly You Tube clip sent from a cousin in Australia that made me laugh so much I cried. This sort of treatment and care is priceless and whilst it may not be supported by research I’m pretty sure it forms the basis for a lot of “treatment” – what do you think?