TREATMENT OPTIONS

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2014, I treated my cancer as I did any other illness beforehand.  I didn’t make any lifestyle changes and accepted main stream treatments ony.  I didn’t actually know that there are other options.

Main stream / standard treatments

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy etc. based on the type of breast cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Surgery

When I was diagnosed the second time around in 2016 I got really scared.  I started reading books from people who survived cancer, carried out research via the internet and talked to people through support groups. Through this I found out that there are many other complementary options.

Of course the effectiveness  of these complementary options are not as well-known as for the main stream options.  However there is a lot of data out there on each, so I decided to judge for myself. Also, I didn’t have anything to lose 🙂

I have also started to think about talking to consultants (other than my Oncologist) in the field, to get more input.

I have ended up with the following list of options that I want to pursue or investigate further

  • Consultations (3-4)
    Most people with stage 4 cancer ask for a second opinion.
    – This can be through the Oncologist in a form of a referral to another hospital. The Royal Marsden Hospital is a dedicated cancer hospital and they do a lot of trials. My understanding is that they also work with the Institute of Cancer Research.
    – Or it can be through private consultation. These cost around £400 to £600 and last for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Clinical trials for new drugs (paid / unpaid)
    Clinical trials that run in the UK are listed here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/find-a-clinical-trial    Typing in the cancer type will give the specific trials.  It can be quite difficult to understand some, but it is worth looking through and then discuss with the Oncologist.
  • Access to medical (innovation) database
    ‘Access to medical treatment (innovation) act’ was passed into law in March 2016.
    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2015-2016/0093/16093.pdf
    My understanding of this law is that patients are eligible for treatment that are not in line with standard treatment. For example using chemotherapy drugs developed and tested in children only, for adults. Or not carrying out radiotherapy but using laser surgery to remove cancerous tumours in the brain.
  • Diet
    I have drastically changed my diet a few weeks after my diagnosis. It can be summed up as ‘no chemicals and no sugar’. It’s not an easy one 🙂
    – No alcohol
    – No refined sugar (glucose). I don’t use refined sugar and try to avoid anything that says it contains sugar. If I do need to add sugar occasionally, I use palm (coconut) sugar.
    – Bottled water only, freshly made juice and herbal teas
    – No meat, but I do eat fish and prawns
    – Organic as much as possible (quite costly :()
    – Wholemeal only (bread, pasta, rice etc.)
    – Pulses (beans, lentils)
    – Lots of vegetables and fruit (try to avoid potatoes)
  • Juicing / Detoxing
    Besides the diet I also do juicing. Mostly vegetables (green ones) but also some fruit. Juicing is separating out the juice from the pulp and is a great way to get nutrients into the body.
    There are two types of juicers: centrifugal extractors and cold press juicers. The cold press juicers are more expensive but better at juicing. They retain more of the nutrients. The cost is around £400.
  • Supplements
    Vitamin C, D and Bs. I am still working on what the dosage needs to be.
  • Healthy body: Excercise
    Excercise I find is very important.  Even if I don’t have the strength to do anything else (because of going through chemo for example) I try to do a half an hour walk.
    When feeling better, the gym twice a week, swimming and pilates classes.
  • Healthy mind (no stress)
    A healthy mind is essential to enable to body to heal. I try to look at the world and my surroundings differently, to remain stress free, calm and happy(ish). This area is my weak spot, and I am looking to go to a retreat / course to learn some techniques.
    Again there is a cost to this, around £1000 to 2000 for a 2 weeks retreat.
    • Retreats /Spas:  Spas (either a few hours or a weekend getaway) are a great way to clear the mind and also beneficial for the body.  Most Spas don’t treat people who have cancer.  There are some who do have specially trained staffed to take treat cancer patients. Searching the internet will yield some results. Here’s a link from 2015.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/jun/23/spa-breaks-people-with-cancer-recovery-retreats

    The cost is between £80 for a half a day session to £400 for a weekend retreat.
  • Immune system boosting
    The best way to fight my cancer would be for my own defence system (immune system) to take charge. There are many methods that help boost or awaken the immune system.
    – Immunotherapy trials (if any)
    – Other clinical trials targeting the immune system (laser treatment)
    – Intravenous Vitamin C. The cost of this is around £100 / session. There are short-term (intensive) or longer term sessions. the cost would be £3000 to £6000 and the consultation fee beforehand.
    The ‘yestolife’ charity website is an excellent source to find out where treatment is available.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment
    “Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment uses high pressure to increase the amount of oxygen a person can breathe. This puts more oxygen into the bloodstream, which can help the healing process. You stay in a hyperbaric (high-pressure) chamber during the treatment, which can last from 60-90 minutes. Treatments are usually repeated over a number of days or weeks for maximum benefit.” [McMillan.org]
    The cost of one session is around £100.
  • Natural beauty products and Frankincense (vapour, body oil, bath oil)
    Using only natural products on the body.  Oils, aluminium free deodorant, organic or just very plain (non-perfumed) creams.
  • Repurposing medicine
    There are many existing medicines that are being trialled in the treatment of cancer.  Aspirin for example or Metformin (Diabetes drug).
    There are some clinics out there that provides advice / guidance on what these are and it what combination.
    E.g. The Care Oncology Clinic in London.  The consultation cost here is £400 with further quarterly cost of £250 if interested in the treatments.
  • Herbal medicine
    Herbal medicine is an area where I need to do further research.
  • Support groups
    Having cancer can be a very isolating experience. Even with family and friends around. Joining a support group, talking to people in the same boat, with the same issues and outlook is  a very warming experience.
    I found it quite difficult to find one.  I have finally come across the charity ‘Breast Cancer Care’ who have a support group for people with Secondary Breast Cancer. There is a monthly meet up and also various events.  It isn’t local to me, but definitely worth the travel 🙂
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