Healing is a many splendored thing

There has been a post on a forum about Chinese Herbal Medicine.  The person who posted it had had a consultation with a Chinese Herbalist and was wondering whether to actually get the prescription filled.  The herbalist had prescribed about 7 different herbs for her to take and she is already following an Integrated Medical approach to Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Spookily I was just putting the kettle on for my morning dose of powdered Chinese Herbs and so I replied – I’ll post that later.

When we advocate for more treatment options for MBC it tends to be for conventional pharmaceutical treatments.  The resistance to any thing that is vaguely alternative is extreme, with words like ‘quackery’ and ‘not scientifically proven’ being bandied about, or even shouted.  Does Western Medicine have the monopoly on wisdom, truth, efficacy and science?  In my opinion, far from it.  It is as rigid and inflexible a doctrine as would shame many a political or religious organisation.  A belief that they are totally right, and this from a group that climbs on the shoulders of Galileo, Copernicus and many others who were persecuted even after death by the scientific orthodoxy of their day.  Who laughs at Galileo’s concept of what we now call a helicopter?  Who, in the scientific world, considers Copernicus to be other than giant in his field?  I really don’t know enough about science to be able to quote more examples, but there must be many.

Strangely enough for the Western Scientific World it is beginning to be realised that things that were invented scientifically and mathematically were know about centuries before in other parts of the world like China and the Arab world.  After all we use Arabic numerals in Maths and not Roman numerals … so who knew the most?

What is being dismissed by the WSW and Western Medicine in particular?  What are they ignoring because it doesn’t fit their dogma?  Could CHM have viable treatments that they choose to ignore because they are traditional?  Could one reason be the lack of side effects and therefore the absence of the need for more drugs to counter the side effects caused by the first one?  And then another to counteract that until the patient has gone full circle and rattles from the number of tablets being taken to counter each other.

Surely a contributory factor in any disease is the lack of balance in the body.  This balance is ‘spiritual’, physical, chemical, mental and emotional.  Few will live a life in perfect harmony, and some can push one thing further out of balance than others.  That is why you get those who smoke 60 a day and live to be a hundred and don’t have lung cancer, and those who do get it who have never smoked a cigarette in their lives.  For me this just goes to show how individual that balance is and I feel that this is accepted and reflected in alternative approaches far more than the one-size-fits-all approach of Western Medicine.

The choice of how to treat this illness is highly individual.  It is the lack of alternatives from conventional medicine that pushes some of us towards a kinder, more flexible system which seems to react to us as individuals and not as lab fodder to try and prove someone’s hypothesis, come what may.  I feel that science is too ready to dismiss any result that doesn’t prove the hypothesis in question … but that is just my opinion.

I guess I am trying to say that what those of us who have Metastatic Breast Cancer really need are treatments that WORK, and not treatments that are shown to work for only a few, and fail many.  We need viable treatments to help us live longer as life should be lived and not in a medicated haze.


I have just put the kettle on to make up a morning dose of powdered Chinese Herbal Medicine and then I came across this post.  I have been taking CHM on and off for the five years that I have been living with MBC.  I have not been as conscience about taking them as I should be which is why I also have the powdered form as well as the dried herbs to boil, which with soaking time  can take a few hours.  My acupuncturer/ist is also a Chinese Herbalist and he prescribes them for me and alters them regularly in accordance with what I need at any specific time; for instance when I had cellulitis last year he altered them accordingly.

What can I say about their help with dealing with my cancer?  I take a range of supplements as well as the CHM, regular acupuncture and reflexology, and I was diagnosed in January 2008 with HER2+ ER+ MBC which had spread to my bones, and at that time they thought possibly also my liver and lungs.  I changed my diet and try to avoid dairy, red meat, processed foods and only have organic produce, which is almost impossible to avoid all of these/have all of these if I eat out and I have to admit that last night I didn’t even try.  Different matter at home where I have a weekly delivery of organic veg via a box scheme.

Although I am not NED initially my mets shrunk and have been stable ever since – over 5 years.  I took Tamoxifen which I changed to Femara because I have had a hysterectomy, and have had 4 weekly Zometa by IV during that time.  The Zometa has not been constant because in Dec 2011 I had my left hip replaced.  This was because I was born with a slightly deformed hip which developed arthritis, and probably the effects of the cancer treatment on what was already a problem area.  This is the only conventional treatment that I have had during this time, now five years and two months.

I am NOT saying that everyone should follow the same treatment choices as mine; that is after all a very personal decision, and I know there are some who consider all this to be ‘quackery’ but it is MY CHOICE and seems to be working for me.  I am not cured, but I still work for a living and enjoy life though my mobility is not great, but I have pre-existing factors that contribute to that, plus having worked for 20 years cleaning in a college and using heavy cleaning equipment which is not good for your back especially when you have no training and have to figure out how they work for yourself (now illegal for companies to do that now).

Each one of us has to follow our own way.  I have chosen mine but I am open to new treatments, conventional and alternative.  Many have total faith in ‘science’ and the medical profession and if that is your way – go for it.  The medical profession failed me as I could have been diagnosed with BC YEARS before but they ignored me (too young, just fat and depressed …) and their own scientific test results which gave cancer marker counts that showed I could have cancer, and the marked in question is also a marker for BC though the tests were done in relation to the hysterectomy in 2002.  All this despite my repeatedly telling at least three different doctors that my mother had had breast cancer and who actively encouraged me to take HRT which I did very reluctantly for about three months, and then not continuously.


1 Comment

  1. Yes, I was reading your post this morning and thought about the first opposer to ring in about the ladies chinese remedy-I am an advocate for treatments that work; whether they be conventional or complementary or alternative. I thought that having a government agency such as NCCAM to support scientific research on CAM would be to our benefit but lately, all I see is them scrutinizing CAM and putting their stamp of approval on it. All we can really do is try to protect our own personal interests by researching and talking with our health professionals about treatment choices. That, and trying to protect our food for the future, just say NO! to GMO!!!

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