For many years, cancer has been considered a death sentence, and people were very pleased just to survive a diagnosis. Our clinicians would do what they could to rid us of this terrible disease, without too much thought of what our lives would look like afterwards. Now, many more of us are surviving which is great news, but struggling with the after effects of treatment. Not just physical but emotional and psychological too. What we have done previously is just really treat the physical symptoms, without thinking how that will affect us mentally. Today we have learned that to be really successful when treating people affected by cancer we need to use a much more holistic approach, dealing with the mind and body together. Helping your mind and body heal together by looking at diet, exercise and mindfulness etc. This much more coordinated approach is very successful in the US and is beginning to be accepted here in the UK. If you think about things it is so logical I struggle to understand why we weren’t doing it before? Surviving our disease is not just enough now. We want to integrate back into our lives as smoothly as possible, without constantly returning for treatment of side effects.
Recently I was asked which cancer I specialise in and I said all! Many of the problems we face after treatment are general and not so much cancer specific, and those issues cross the globe. In the madness that is my world now, I am Skyping with people from many nationalities all talking about the same things, and all dealing with them slightly different. A few weeks ago I was contacted by Samara, who put together the CARER Program. Like many of us that give back to the cancer community, this programme was born from personal experiences and Samara has gone to incredible lengths to ensure that her offer matches what people need. There are certainly massive challenges facing people affected by cancer in India and I admire so much the work that Samara is doing, with very little support, attempting to smash through all the cancer taboos in such a vast country, with all the cultural challenges too, and I am delighted that she approached me to share her exciting project.
“My journey with cancer began over 10 years ago. I noticed a brochure left on the table with an advertisement for a cancer drug and how it can help fight the disease. My confused reaction was caught by my mother who then sat me down and told me that she was sick. My perfect world was shattered into pieces in the matter of minutes. The women that I thought was indestructible was telling me she had no control over her life. I felt like I was in a bad dream and little did I know that this nightmare was going to change my life forever. My mother was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the cervix. A rare but aggressive form of cancer and was given 6 months to live, however she fought for 6 years.
I lived through her cancer beside her all day, every day and began noticing a major gap in the field of cancer care. Being someone who was always inclined toward health and well-being, I tried to encourage the habit with her, noticing that post treatment care and recovery does not exist. We were completely helpless when it came to nutrition, exercise, dealing with stress and emotions and how to recover from this debilitating illness. All focus was on medical treatment and nothing was offered post treatment. Unfortunately, we lost her, but it was then when I began my endeavor to find answers.
I accredited myself in the field of integrative healing, becoming a Cancer Exercise Specialist, Breast Cancer Recovery Trainer, Holistic Health Coach and certified myself in plant-based nutrition from Cornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. I worked in the space for many years and interacted with hospitals, doctors and patients on a daily basis. I realized the problem we encountered still very much exists today and more so than before. I experienced the power of using complementary and integrative therapies to help patients recover first-hand, but no one was really doing it in a comprehensive manner. This is when the CARER Program was born.
It is a cancer recovery and rehabilitation programme that uses nutrition, yoga therapy, meditation and counselling amongst others to wean patients off medical treatment into a healthier lifestyle, body, mind and soul. We have brought onboard renowned specialists in their respective fields to provide their information and healing modalities to cancer patients and caregivers through an online platform. This enables patients to heal in the comfort of their homes. CARER fulfills the dire helplessness, cluelessness and anxiety about what to do next and how to keep cancer at bay. With just recently launching, it is now in the homes of cancer patients who are based in the UK, US and India and this is due to the synergy of offline and online support we provide.
CARER is a personal endeavor. I encountered a problem, I noticed that it exists amongst patients all over the world and no one was providing a solution. This a simple solution to a major problem and through this programme my dream is to bring hope to every cancer patient after treatment.”
The delight of programmes like this is that they are available online in most countries, and accessible when the patient is ready. Without doubt, complementary and integrative medicine are the way forward, but we are still behind many countries in this regard. I personally have been treated in this way and things improved dramatically for me. My thanks go to Samara for sharing her inspiring story, and hope that you can reach everyone who may need your help! You can see more about Samara and her story in this lovely video.
CARER Program – Timeline | Facebook
Another excellent blog post on a subject that you know I have concerns about. Too often patients are left in limbo land once conventional treatment ends and the medical profession move on to the next patient.
We feel as though our safety net has been pulled from under us and are left alone to try and figure out what to do next.
We know that if patients feel empowered to help themselves then many will, but they need the tools and the knowledge in order to do so.
There are some very good support services out there helping patients with the emotional and psychological side of healing but they are few and far between. There does need to be a much more cohesive approach so that patients across the UK can get the same level of support and help.
Online help and support helps to fill the gap and whilst it is good, not everyone is able to access them. Hopefully the more that things like this are being demanded by patients, the sooner it will be available to all who need it.
Well done to Samara for taking the initiative and I wish her well in what she is doing.
Hi Kaz, yes I think most of us share those concerns. The whole aftercare thing is very much a lottery really and we both know that there is no need for it to be like that. Having spoken to many healthcare organisations in this work plus talking about my own charity, which as you know is giving things away, I am truly shocked at the general apathy on this subject. It seems there are very few who want to step out of the safe zone. With everyone towing the company line and blaming red tape for the lack of progress.
What I am trying to do is share work from around the world, to show patients what is being done if you look around. Samara is doing exactly what we are. She has seen a gap in care for patients and is doing her best to fill it.
With little appetite for collaboration it seems we can just do what we can. People deserve to know what is out there and I will do my best to ensure they know!