Seanty's experiences with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma.
Part of www.mymalignantmelanoma.com.
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Whilst you can believe what you like, there is in fact plenty of evidence that positive mental attitude and attitude have no
effect on the outcome of cancer (though of course it isn't science's job to prove every fad wrong).
Every trial which finds no effect on cancer isn't just not providing supporting evidence, it is providing opposing evidence.
For example, dietary Vitamin C has been trialled, and is known not to work. It's not just that it hasn't been proven not to work, so thinking that it might work is supportable - it has been shown not to work. Beta carotene was tested and found to be actively harmful, as was vitamin E.
The informed position here is that the normal dietary recommendations, without any dietary supplements, or the elimination of any dietary component is what is recommended for cancer patients, and that if there are any circumstances in which a special diet is needed, the patient will be told by their care team. Patients should discuss with that team any supplement they are thinking of taking or diet they are thinking of trying, not anonymous people on the internet who might be healthy but bored teenage kids or alternative medicine practitioners for all we know.
Positive mental attitude has no effect on the outcome of cancer, and research suggests that the best coping style for the patient is their usual one. If you are usually sunny in disposition, go with that, but being admonished to keep smiling when you feel like crying is not encouraging but oppressive. It sounds great saying you need to have a fighting attitude to cancer, but my friend's 15-year old daughter died of MM - didn't she try hard enough to live?
Perhaps this is why I so often see the relatives of those with cancer as the foremost proponents of PMA on cancer boards. As you point out, we wouldn't want to be overwhelmed with negative emotions, and of course we all try not to be, and to protect those who care for us from our darker moments. But for those of you who haven't had cancer, let me tell you, it can be a bit of a downer. I know cancer's cheerleaders mean well, but what are they telling those who feel depressed, and those who despair - cheer up or you'll die?
Yes, there is hope. I have/have had advanced cancer, and was given the "its' all palliative from here" speech five years ago. I have melanoma, for which there was no treatment other than surgery back when I was diagnosed. I had the surgery, and after researching the so called "alternatives", got on with my life. I haven't taken any quack diets, supplements or complementary therapies, yet here I am, five years NED. It's a miracle!
No it isn't. I have had proven effective treatment, and I been lucky so far. Others I know had the same treatment at the same stage as me, and they are dead. The world is a chancy and an unfair place. We all want to believe that some lucky charm or magic beans will make us lucky. Nothing more human than superstition, but it doesn't work on cancer - surgery, chemo and radiotherapy work.
The great hope for MM patients is that during the time since I was diagnosed, new life-extending drugs
have been developed by those evil drug companies I hear so much about on cancer forums. They were not found by chance from the "alternatives"- nothing ever has been, despite what you hear on the 'net. They were found via the human genome project. Have hope, but look in the right direction. If we are going to be cured, the answer will come from science and medicine, not from "alternative medicine"'s cynical exploiters of the desperate, or the woolly minded fools of "complementary therapy".
So called complementary and alternative medicine (sCAM) doesn't work. I mean not just that it doesn't cure cancer, but that it has no beneficial effect on cancer treatment. It doesn't help treatment to work, as those who like to blur the line between hard reality and pleasant fantasy claim. It has no effect whatever on cancer. Of course a bit of a footrub or some smellies might be nice - I like a massage and a go in the steam room myself. But that's not why I'm here writing this. It's because some people spent long years training and learning things that many others spent hard years discovering, and those people used their skills and knowledge to apparently cure me. You want hope? Hope in them.
Of course many of them didn't have time in all of this training to acquire people skills, and the level of people skills required to deal effectively on an emotional level with confused, frightened, despairing people all day every day is a very big ask. I understand if people want a book or a person to put their faith in, someone to make sense of it all, a bit of harmless comfort, some way of feeling in control, even if it's just over what they eat.
If only these simple comforters would have the honesty to admit the truth, which is that all they offer is empty comfort. If only they wouldn't attempt to erode confidence in our real chance of survival, to blur the line, and claim more power than they really have. Many of them do have that honesty, and fair play to them. But those who offer false hope with lies and half-truths put people on the slippery slope that leads into the hands of "alternative medicine" - and consequently death. So have a care.
Labels: Alternative, complementary, quack
Another human trial drug combination looks very promising
against MM. Back when I was diagnosed this never happened, now it feels like there's a new one every week...
A great summary of the state of play with new MM drugs can be seen here