Thursday, May 31, 2007


Commonweal is a nonprofit health and environmental research institute in Bolinas, California. Founded in 1976, Commonweal conducts programs that contribute to human and ecosystem health — to a safer world for people and for all life. One part of their work is a Cancer Help Program.

Choices In Healing: Integrating The Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer by the organisation's founder Michael Lerner and available for free on Commonweal's website seems to be a very sensible guide to and survey of complementary approaches. It summarises any scientific evidence for an approach, is not afraid to admit it when there is no scientific evidence.

"I have seen no systematic cure for any form of cancer among the therapies currently described as "unconventional." This is an important finding. Conventional therapies, for all their real shortcomings, are capable of curing a number of cancers reliably. When I say I have seen no systematic cure for cancer among the unconventional therapies, this does not mean that I have seen no individual cures among people who have used unconventional therapies. In fact, there are well-documented examples of people who have recovered from "terminal" cancers using various unconventional cancer therapies. But these examples of individual recoveries from terminal cancers are not frequent enough to form a pattern that would allow me to say that there is a cure for any cancer among the unconventional therapies."

However, the role of complementary approaches in pain relief, psychological well-being, potential enhancement of conventional treatment, prevention. palliative care etc are discussed and in many cases there is solid evidence that they can be beneficial.

It also provides very sensible advice concerning the patient and physician's attitudes and approaches to conventional treatment.

Perhaps one glaring omission is the lack of a section on paediatric and young adult care. The use of music, art, drama, laughter, "bravery" stickers and certificates etc as therapy - a highpoint for Kezia of her stays at hospital have been the visits of the hospital clown!

No comments: