Receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma is, frankly, devastating. Many of my clients ask their Consultant or Lung Cancer Nurse for a prognosis and are therefore all too aware that they face a limited life expectancy. One of my clients recently had an Extra Pleural Pneumonectomy (EPP), a major operation that is only suitable for a small number of candidates. My client had the operation in Spain, having emigrated there a few years prior to his diagnosis. The whole of the lung was removed, together with the lung lining, the heart lining and part of the diaphragm.
However, the reality is that EPP is not often an appropriate form of treatment for many people suffering with mesothelioma. Clinical trials are, of course, vital and often very encouraging . Treatment for mesothelioma sufferers is aimed at easing symptoms and prolonging life rather than curing the disease.
Some of my clients report that alternative therapies can provide relief and most importantly give hope to people suffering from the disease and their families. Alternative therapies that some mesothelioma and lung cancer sufferers have undertaken are as follows:
Acupressure is the application of pressure to various points of the body. It is said to relieve pain, improve fatigue and strengthen the immune system. It is also meant to cultivate blood. Some believe that this type of massage can counter the well-known side effects of chemotherapy, such as fatigue and nausea.
One of my clients learned how to perform acupressure herself and is convinced it helps her to relax and manage the symptoms of mesothelioma.
Many cancer sufferers believe in the benefits of acupuncture. This is where tiny needles are inserted into the body at “acupoints” – very specific places in an attempt to ease physical pain and restore balance. Studies undertaken in the States have apparently shown that acupuncture is an effective way of controlling pain caused by mesothelioma.
I myself have had acupuncture for alleviating symptoms of nausea and found the treatment very relaxing but can see why it is not a treatment for everyone.
If you are contemplating acupuncture or acupressure, please consult your Oncologist to ensure that it can be safely added to your treatment plan.
Reiki is a Japanese healing art where a reiki practitioner aims to charge and balance the energy fields in and around your body. It is advocated to help you on a spiritual and emotional level as well as on a physical level. It is a hands-on therapy where people who practise reiki place their hands on your body.
People report that reiki can help control the pain caused by cancer, but also the side effects of chemotherapy. It is designed to lower your stress levels.
Cucurmin is an active ingredient found in turmeric, a spice offered use in Indian and Asian food. Again there is no conclusive evidence that turmeric or cucurmin can prevent or cure mesothelioma, but there have been some trials involving cancer patients which have produced some hopeful results.
A bowel cancer study in 2007 in America revealed that more cancer cells were killed when cucurmin was combined with chemotherapy. However, it is important to remember that it is not known what the safe level of cucurmin is when used for medical reasons. There have been reports of stomach pain, as well as skin problems.
A clinical trial in September 2014 revealed that cucurmin activated a specific protein that can slow or stop the growth of mesothelioma cells. However, researchers found that the difficulty was with getting the body to absorb the curcurmin. The stomach does not absorb much of the compound when it is in its spice form. Experts at the University of Michigan discovered combining cucurmin with the active compound in black pepper, known as Piperine, improves absorption into the body’s cells.
The supposed health benefits of herbal teas, such as green tea, are well known. Essiac tea is lesser known. The main ingredients of Essiac tea are:
- Burdock root
- Sheep sorrel
- Slippery elm
- Indian rhubarb root
The above ingredients were protected for many years by the nurse who developed it and it was only after her death that the ingredients became known. The tea was created by a Canadian nurse in the 1920s called Renee Caisse. Essiac is her surname spelt backwards.
Research has confirmed the tea contains antioxidants, but there was no real evidence that the tea can cure cancer. There have been reports of some types of cancer completely disappearing after Essiac tea is taken (but of course these cases could coincide with a misdiagnosis of malignancy in the first place). Some websites advise Essiac tea should not be drunk alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. As always, ensure you speak to your doctor before embarking on any alternative therapies.
The use of alternative therapies
Whilst it is important to remember that there is no evidence to suggest that any type of complimentary or alternative therapy prevents or cures cancer, the use of these therapies provides hope to many cancer sufferers and just as importantly, a way of coping with their disease and the treatments they are undergoing. It may make you feel better able to cope with mesothelioma, especially if you believe it alleviates your side effects, reduces your stress levels and makes you more relaxed.
If alternative therapies make you feel better able to cope with your condition, I believe that this can only be a positive thing. I have no personal experience with cancer, but I have undertaken alternative therapies for other conditions. I am not sure that I would want to repeat acupuncture and can see that it is not for everyone, but at the time I firmly believed that the acupuncture relieved the symptoms I was suffering from and made me better able to cope with my day to day life.
Perhaps you believe in the healing powers of alternative therapies. Perhaps not. But if nothing else, the placebo effects can serve to provide mesothelioma and other cancer sufferers with hope and a way of coping with their dreadful disease.