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Why is Yes to Life the first charity to get a logo on my site? | Philip Booth

5 Oct 2018

This week Philip Booth (My Unexpected Guide; learning from cancer) discusses his recent trip to Guildford Wellness Day and interviews our very own Sue De Cesare…

Cartoon by Stroud artist, Russ

Since diagnosis, just over a year ago, I’ve come into contact with quite a number of the cancer charities through workshops, events and more. Some have disappointed but others have impressed me like Penny Brohn and CancerActive. However in terms of a national charity that provides support, info, funding and a helpline I wanted to start with highlighting Yes to Life. It is a good resource, particularly if new to cancer and Integrative Medicine – as is their book ‘The Cancer Revolution. Integrative Medicine. The Future of Cancer Care” by Patricia Peat.

One of the things I like about the charity is the integrative approach. It does seem extraordinary to me how little attention oncologists seem to pay to Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). A study five years ago found that almost a third of UK cancer patients have used CAM since their cancer diagnosis (i). This figure is similar to the one found globally for prostate cancer (ii). In a talk at the Guildford Wellness Day yesterday Professor Dr Alexander Herzog suggests that up to 80% of cancer patients are looking at CAM. Others have also suggested similar high numbers of cancer patients using CAM.

What is perhaps concerning is that most patients don’t feel able to tell their physicians’ about their use of CAM. Dr Herzog suggests there is a problem of confidence; in part due to physicians lack of knowledge around such treatments and their often negative attitude. Indeed most doctors have had little or no training in CAM – and for that matter in exercise or nutrition (iii).

There are also relentless attacks by media about alternative medicine ‘cancer quackery’; some of it justified. However this has helped create a climate where people feel less able to share with their doctors any CAM they might be trying.

Interestingly I just read a new blog by Jerome Burne on the Yes To Life’s website about perhaps an even bigger deception by the press (iv). It was revealed in the BMJ that the UK national press had been engaging in a mass Fake News exercise about something called the Cancer Drug Fund. The press reported the exact opposite of the truth suggesting that this Fund was good at approving safe and effective cancer drugs. Incredibly 1.4 billion pounds of taxpayers money was spent on very expensive cancer drugs for no benefit.

Amazingly there is still no call for enquiries into this shocking story.

As I noted in my last blog a Mind-Body Revolution is coming, but it is slow! Yes to Life and their Integrative approach are part of supporting that move. To me it makes total sense to use both Orthodox and Complimentary approaches, but we all need to consider very carefully the treatments on offer. It is not just CAM quackery, there are also some very dodgy treatments as this Cancer Drug Fund story illustrates.

Here’s Sue De Cesare in the film below introducing Yes to Life. I met her yesterday in Guildford at Surrey’s Wellness Day with it’s ‘acclaimed holistic exhibition’ and their series of speakers about cancer. More from that day coming soon to this blog!