So, recently we have heard that this year a record number of patients were referred for suspected cancer. There seemed to be a small pat on the back for everyone, as that seemed to show more people were coming forward since covid. However, it also showed that at least 30,000 were still yet to start their treatment. With record numbers across all waiting lists in the NHS there should be no surprise! Incredibly, I feel grateful that I was diagnosed in 2007. I have to question if I would get the same timely life saving treatment today? Naturally, all staff are doing their best, but working with a broken system they are doomed to fail in many cases.
What we all need is HOPE in our lives. But circumstances in the cancer world have meant that is decreasing, as much as waiting lists are increasing! So is it any wonder that people are no longer sitting, waiting to die. But searching for alternative ways to deal with their disease. Through my work I know so many that have been told, “I’m sorry, but there is nothing more we can do.” But in many cases this is not strictly true. It maybe as far as the NHS road can go. But there are now many other less traditional routes that people are looking at. When given the worst news possible we can react positively or negatively. Thanks to the internet the world of cancer is a smaller place.
Patients can now see different treatments being used across the world. Subject to cost of course, very little is beyond us. Communicating with international experts is all possible. Yes, there are many falsehoods out there. But those ‘different’ methods might make our lives more bearable for a while. The world of healthcare in the UK has been traditionally cautious. Perhaps explaining why we have made little progress with many cancers? But since covid, things have changed dramatically. Add to that the war in Ukraine and things will never be the same again. We must use this opportunity to improve our work in cancer. This is not just a national issue but truly international.
It must be driven by people affected by cancer. Governments do not seem keen to prioritise healthcare, with so many other things to keep them busy. In this piece I am featuring a couple of videos from people for whom the current ‘one size fits all system’ is no longer suitable. As we know, every single diagnosis of cancer is unique, it looks like our treatments will also be heading that way. Why shouldn’t people demand a better choice from our Health Service? It is no secret that we are certainly not a world leader, but why can’t we be?
This is not a discussion about money, but one of attitude. Only in recent times have we seen significant leaps in treatments offered including immunotherapy. But we are way behind many equivalent countries. Where, for example proton beam therapy is publicly accepted and widely available. In the UK we only have two NHS sites active, with limited capacity. We spent many years questioning the effectiveness of the treatment, thus of course we are now well behind many similar countries across Europe.
Our cancer services have been cut and cut, with seemingly little interest in getting involved in technology and new ways of working. Our reluctance to change things is really working against us now. We are slipping further backwards as each week goes by. There actually are more things we can do now. However it means us entering the ‘wild west’ of the Internet. As very little is talked about by cancer clinicians in the NHS. Is it really any wonder we are seeing an increase in GoFundMe etc to enable people to travel around the world in search of new treatments? Why should any of us be left to die on record waiting lists? To then be told there are few options, that even then may be delayed.
Currently the system is extremely challenging for cancer patients. Not only massive waiting lists, but nowhere near being given all the options that might be available. Many generally available, complementary and alternative therapies, some only in other countries with a hefty fee and risk. Whether they are for you or not, I believe we should all be told about them. Especially when for many of us, our lives are hanging by a thread. Sitting around waiting for the system to support us, is no longer an option. We must all be pro-active, and those that want to, should search for options that may lie outside our increasingly narrow treatment offers.
There are a larger number of organisations specialising in treatments outside the NHS. So it may be worth a look at alternatives beyond the mainstream. The world is changing in front of us and healthcare should be too. Just because we have never done it before, doesn’t mean it might not work now. Let’s be honest we haven’t had a great success with cancer in the last 100 years!! In my opinion this alone says we must make a change.
* Videos recorded at the Yes to Life online forum ‘Bridging the Gap – How do we gain the acceptance by oncology professionals of safe integrative interventions?’
As always the above piece are my personal views based on experiences. Please feel free to share your own below.