When I was first diagnosed, well-meaning friends and acquaintances bombarded me with suggestions to try various alternative treatments. They usually ended their pitch with the line "it can't hurt to try."
When I had the strength, I spelled it out:
I received chemotherapy once a week. I was then tired EVERY night, and most days. I usually had around 7 good hours during the last two days before my next treatment. So, I had to fit a week's worth of activities into fourteen hours! I did not really want to take out 3 hours (minimum) to check out something that might or might not work.
Furthermore, none of these unconventional treatments are covered by insurance. They usually take at least 3-6 months before we can even determine if they are working. So, for every complementary treatment, we are talking about expending significant time, money, and energy -- all limited and valuable resources that I did not have to spare.
Despite my inclination for conventional medicine, I wanted to explore all my options. So, I asked my oncologist about complementary medicine. My doctor summarily dismissed the world of alternative medicine (with the sole exception of acupuncture).
"That is an industry that takes advantage of desperate people," he declared.
"There is no scientific evidence that the treatments work," he explained, disregarding the claim that there is no money to prove these treatements works. There is a lot of money in manufacturing cancer fighting agents. If there existed evidence that a product is effective in fighting cancer, drug companies would fund the research.
Then he elaborated further "If a treatment does influence cancer, then there is no way of knowing whether the influence is positive or negative without proper scientific study (large, double-blind research)."
That is what convinced me more than anything else.
If a treatment really can affect cancer, then we need to know how it affects a particular type of cancer
In a recent study researching the effects of Green Tea, scientist discovered something disturbing. Instead of being a "miracle herb," the tea actually prevented certain chemotherapies from working! (Read the full article here)
The specifics of this particular research are not relevant to me. But the results are significant.
Natural remedies actually can hurt.
(Hat Tip to "After Cancer")
Recently, our friends, T&UB, told us about Limonit (Lemon Grass Tea), a natural remedy that a friend of theirs said cured her of stage 4 breast cancer. I was curious, so Moshe and I did a bit of research. There is a chemical in Lemon Grass, Melissa, and Verbena that kills cancer cells in vitro. (Read more here) So what? There are many chemicals that kill cancer cells in a test tubes. We need to know how these chemicals interact with cancer cells that are in our bodies.
So, though I like a cup of tea every now and then, I am not about to start drinking 8 cups a day... yet.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
"Italian Salad" at Jerusalem's Iconic "Cafe Rimon"
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