Alternative Therapies Make Their Way into Cancer Hospitals
For decades, mesothelioma patients have faced horrendous odds in regard to the success of traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
Many have looked for alternative therapies to treat their disease, even going as far as traveling to another country to partake of unproven treatments that turned out to be fake – administered by a charlatan – but certainly costly.
They were grasping at proverbial straws, so to speak, but for some, alternative therapies worked.
Consider the case of long-time mesothelioma survivor, Paul Kraus, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1997 and is still alive to tell his story.
Kraus opted not to try traditional treatments and, instead, went for a lifestyle change that included many alternative options such as a huge vitamin and mineral regimen, a new diet, experimental therapies, mind-body medicine, and more.
His motto is that “people can conquer cancer because there is far more to this illness than just a doctor’s bad news.”
Now, many of the country’s premiere hospitals, including several of the nation’s designated cancer centers, are taking the same route, admitting that there may be more to a cancer cure than just those treatments that have become so standard.
Some doctors say it’s all hogwash but others are embracing the possibility of treatments that might work or – at least – therapies that will provide some relief for very sick cancer patients.
Cleveland Clinic now offers an “energy medicine” program. Duke Health has an integrative medicine program that offers therapies such as acupuncture and meditation. MedStar Georgetown provides a similar program.
When it comes to alternative medicine, Dr. Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine thinks patients are being “snookered”.
But Linda Lee, who runs the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, thinks otherwise.
“Yes, as scientists, we want to be rigid. But me, as a physician, I want to find what’s best for a patient. Who am I to say that’s hogwash?” said the gastroenterologist, though she’s quick to point out that most hospitals offer these treatments as complementary to more traditional therapies like chemo and radiation rather than as stand-alone treatments.
Still, doctors like Novella don’t buy into it. He’s afraid patients will go “all the way” with alternative and ignore the traditional. But who’s to say that won’t work? It worked for Kraus.
Dr. Toby Cosgrove, chief executive of Cleveland Clinic, thinks doctors like Yale’s Novella need to do more thinking outside the box. Cosgrove regularly defends the general principle of offering alternative medicine options to cancer patients and others dealing with chronic diseases.
“The old way of combating chronic disease hasn’t worked,” Cosgrove wrote in a column that was recently posted on the hospital’s website. “… We have heard from our patients that they want more than conventional medicine can offer.”