Friday, 12 October 2018

Hopes, intentions, momentum and shifts - by Anjana Nathwani

With the recent event of World Mental Health Day on 10th October, Anjana Nathwani discusses the ebb and flow between hope and hopelessness and invites you to a free webinar

Recently whilst mentoring a business owner recovering from cancer related surgery and radiation therapy reached out and said that ‘having hope does not take away the feeling of hopelessness.’ We explored further and the conversation continued to reveal that there was an ebb and flow between ‘hope’ and ‘hopelessness.’  The cycle continued as hope was understood as a dream, and family and friends reiterated hope to ease feelings of hopeless and fear.  It became evident that any hope that is not felt as tangible can feel as hopeless.   

C.R. Snyder defines Hope ‘as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via these pathways.’  In practice this means that hope is goal-directed energy and pathways is the planning to meet these goals.  

Hope can become a reality when the hope has a purpose or intention.  The pause created during the Cancer journey does raise questions on ‘What is the purpose of my life?’  ‘Will I feel the same post chemotherapy?’  ‘What will my energy levels feels like?’  ‘Do I dare to hope about life beyond cancer?’ Answers to these questions reveal themselves gradually and this process can feel lonesome and instigate emotions of hopelessness.
From my own experience, I remember feeling ‘numb’ on several occasions as I made life and career choices post cancer. Defining hope as intention changes the brain the chemistry and all of a sudden a feeling of ‘whosh’ happens that feels like a current going up the spine and a momentum is felt.

Intention helps to give shape to the hope or dream and a sense of knowing that life can be purposeful! This summer during a retreat I my life’s statement emerged:

“My life’s truth is that I can apply the wisdom of ‘real’ experience and know that life can be vigorous, privileged and harmonious.”

I chose the words carefully! Cancer to me was a ‘real’ experience that got me in touch with my inner being  and mortality. As an avid practitioner of mindfulness and present moment focus I very often feel vigorous and energetic. Mindfulness can be theme less contemplation and this creates mental space for freshness to be invoked and create shifts. Shifts are changes in attitudes and for me this feels like a privilege, as LIFE is a privilege.

My client’s feelings regarding hopelessness are valid as just to be hopeful or to be reminded that there is hope without any momentum can be disheartening, particularly when the body’s physical intelligence plays a zig zag game. Together we came up with a daily routine for 21 days to feel and believe that hope can become real and fruitful.  

Key components of the routine are:

I also asked my client to chose a poem that resonated her feelings from:

Hopelessness – Hope – Intentions – Momentum – Shifts, he chose the following!

This being human is guest-house
Every morning a new arrival

Ajoy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if  they’re a croud of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house 
Empty of its furniture,

Still, treat each guest honourably
He may be clearing you
Out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

Rumi, The Guest House


IKIGAI  Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
Falling Awake Jon Kabat-Zinn
Power of Intention Dr Wayne Dyer
Psychology of Hope Snyder C.R.

Anjana is going to lead a lively webinar and share her top seven tips on the 'Flow of Hope' on 15thOctober, register for free here.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Why is Yes to Life the first charity to get a logo on my site? - by Philip Booth

This week Philip Booth (My Unexpected Guide; learning from cancer) discusses his recent trip to Guildford Wellness Day and interviews our very own Sue De Cesare…

Cartoon by Stroud artist, Russ
Since diagnosis, just over a year ago, I’ve come into contact with quite a number of the cancer charities through workshops, events and more. Some have disappointed but others have impressed me like Penny Brohn and CancerActive. However in terms of a national charity that provides support, info, funding and a helpline I wanted to start with highlighting Yes to Life. It is a good resource, particularly if new to cancer and Integrative Medicine - as is their book ‘The Cancer Revolution. Integrative Medicine. The Future of Cancer Care” by Patricia Peat.

One of the things I like about the charity is the integrative approach. It does seem extraordinary to me how little attention oncologists seem to pay to Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). A study five years ago found that almost a third of UK cancer patients have used CAM since their cancer diagnosis (i). This figure is similar to the one found globally for prostate cancer (ii). In a talk at the Guildford Wellness Day yesterday Professor Dr Alexander Herzog suggests that up to 80% of cancer patients are looking at CAM. Others have also suggested similar high numbers of cancer patients using CAM.

What is perhaps concerning is that most patients don’t feel able to tell their physicians’ about their use of CAM. Dr Herzog suggests there is a problem of confidence; in part due to physicians lack of knowledge around such treatments and their often negative attitude. Indeed most doctors have had little or no training in CAM - and for that matter in exercise or nutrition (iii).

There are also relentless attacks by media about alternative medicine ‘cancer quackery’; some of it justified. However this has helped create a climate where people feel less able to share with their doctors any CAM they might be trying. 

Sue Cesare, Executive Director, Yes to Life
Interestingly I just read a new blog by Jerome Burne on the Yes To Life’s website about perhaps an even bigger deception by the press (iv). It was revealed in the BMJ that the UK national press had been engaging in a mass Fake News exercise about something called the Cancer Drug Fund. The press reported the exact opposite of the truth suggesting that this Fund was good at approving safe and effective cancer drugs. Incredibly 1.4 billion pounds of taxpayers money was spent on very expensive cancer drugs for no benefit. 

Amazingly there is still no call for enquiries into this shocking story.

As I noted in my last blog a Mind-Body Revolution is coming, but it is slow! Yes to Life and their Integrative approach are part of supporting that move. To me it makes total sense to use both Orthodox and Complimentary approaches, but we all need to consider very carefully the treatments on offer. It is not just CAM quackery, there are also some very dodgy treatments as this Cancer Drug Fund story illustrates.

Here’s Sue De Cesare in the film below introducing Yes to Life. I met her yesterday in Guildford at Surrey’s Wellness Day with it's ‘acclaimed holistic exhibition’ and their series of speakers about cancer. More from that day coming soon to this blog!


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Endemic corruption in healthcare – by Robin Daly

This week our founder discusses the recent news of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre’s Dr Jose Baselga, who resigned after failing to disclose industry ties…

A recent news item1 threw a spotlight on one of the ‘bright stars’ in medicine, Dr José Baselga1 exposing the considerable personal gains he has made ‘playing the field’. This is a snapshot of the ugly and unacceptable face of medicine. It is, of course, absolutely nothing new. What is new - and heartening - is that his behaviour is worthy of a news item, that at last we may be witnessing the dawning of an era in which it is no longer a normal, acceptable aspect of medical culture.

One of Dr Baselga’s most illustrious forbears, a man who really set the standard for self-interest and corruption, was Sir Richard Doll2. He is still remembered primarily for his bold stand against ‘big tobacco’ in firmly establishing the link between smoking and cancer. There’s no getting around it - this was a stunning achievement, considering the might of the forces marshalled against him by the tobacco corporations. 

At this point, Doll was clearly the most dangerous man on the planet, when viewed from the standpoint of corporations knowingly engaged in destroying the environment and our health. The man had to be ‘neutralised’. Instead, they went one better than simply disarming him, they won him over to ‘the dark side’. Who better to whitewash dangerous practices than the most trusted scientist on the planet. ‘If Doll says it’s safe - it must be safe’.

Such was the normality of corruption in medicine that Doll made it to the grave at the ripe old age of 93, with his reputation and knighthood still nicely intact. It was only following his death that the scale of corruption and personal gain he had been involved in emerged. Undoubtedly public health has benefitted enormously from his work with smoking, but closer inspection of the trail of destruction resulting from his defence of toxic industries could arguably reveal that, on balance, he has done us all more harm than good.

One of the first to really lift the lid on the endemic corruption in healthcare, specifically around cancer, was Ralph Moss. His book ‘The Cancer Industry’3, a fearless exposé of the forces at work in cancer research, drug development and treatment, concluded with listings of all the key leaders of Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre, alongside all their other financial interests. What was immediately clear was that practically all of these posts were filled with people who were in charge of industries either directly causing or profiting from cancer. This was conflict of interest on an industrial scale. 

This was all way back in the twentieth century, and it would be heartening to imagine that such things would never happen now. Tragically, however, Dr Baselga, the Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, has demonstrated all too clearly that it’s ‘business as usual’ when it comes to corruption. He seems to think nothing of overlooking the requirement to state the glaring conflicts of interest that any reasonable person would expect to make him completely ineligible to publish findings in respected medical journals, describing the omissions as ‘unintentional’. Apparently, he has ‘slipped up’ in this way more than 100 times since 2013. He also seems to think it’s of little consequence that he simultaneously oversees the clinical operations at one of the world’s foremost cancer centres, and sits on the boards of companies selling drugs and equipment to the hospital. In other areas of business such as finance, people get jailed for this type of behaviour, but in medicine it seems more like the very foundations on which the profession has been built. 

And are the ‘respectable’ journals that publish this sales literature dressed up as science up in arms about all this? In fact, they are as unphased by the corruption as Baselga. They take it all in their stride, as of course the same source that has showered the doctor with ‘incentives’ also ‘motivates’ the journals to keep nicely in line with their marketing plans. ‘Transparency’ is wheeled out as the bullet-proof defence against the possibility of corruption ensuing from conflicts of interest. But even when doctors don’t ‘unintentionally’ overlook declaring such conflicts, the bare-faced gall of both the authors and the journals in brazenly advertising such unsupportable situations is breathtaking! It’s just all shockingly ‘normal’.

As for the corporations, recent ‘breakthrough’ judgements against Monsanto4 and Johnson & Johnson5 may seem, on the face of it, like victories for decency and the ‘man in the street’. And they are. But it’s worth keeping a realistic perspective on the fact that these corporations have, like Sir Richard Doll (and, incidentally, aided and abetted by him - Monsanto paid him a consultancy of $1500 a day in the 1980s to defend them), got away with it for decades, and the scale of profits involved utterly dwarfs any payouts they may now have to make. Millions of lives have been seriously affected by companies who knew exactly what they were doing, and no amount of money is going to restore lost lives.
And of course, this process will be going on with other profitable products right now, products that will also take their tragic toll for a few profitable decades more, before they can finally be ‘proven’ as dangerous to health. It’s simply all too normal to run business in this way: you buy the science you want, you confuse public debate about dangers, and you vigorously defend a product that harms us for as long as is possible. 

Tragically, in healthcare, wherever you lift the bedcovers a little, you’ll find the same nasty infection at work, undermining the health of the public with greed and self-interest. The contrast between the healthy growth of corporate medicine and the simultaneous rapid decline in public health could hardly be starker. Pharmaceuticals have paid some of the largest fines in corporate history for their misdeeds. And although some of those misdeeds are crimes that have cost thousands their lives, curiously, a prison sentence seems to be eluded.  

‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime’6 is the ‘text book’ of this field, detailing the true extent of this suppurating infection in medicine. Written by one of the world’s leading researchers*, each chapter catalogues yet more reasons for mistrusting the fruits of conventional medicine. Until doctors like Baselga are stripped of their position by their peers and made personally accountable for their actions, medicine will continue to fester, and we, the public, will continue to pay the price for the self-serving culture that calls itself healthcare.


At the time of writing, Peter Gøtzsche, author of Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime and an outspoken critic of corrupt practices in medicine has been ousted from directorship of the world-leading Nordic Cochrane Centre, a Centre he established in 1993 the same year as he co-founded The Cochrane Collaboration.  The statement from the Centre for his ‘expulsion’ is the result of an increasing divergence of views, particularly with regard to the safety and effectiveness of psychiatric drugs and some vaccines7. Gøtzsche commented: “As most people know, much of my work is not very favourable to the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Because of this Cochrane has faced pressure, criticism and complaints. My expulsion is one of the results of these campaigns.”