Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Yes to Life Responds to the Latest Macmillan Report

Today's post is from our chairman, Robin Daly, in response to the recent Macmillan report which revealed that there are now a record 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK.

At Yes to Life, we welcome the ‘real world’ report put out by Macmillan this month. Amidst all the ‘good news’ stories that ‘more people are surviving cancer than ever’, this report hits the nail on the head when it comes to focussing on the grim reality behind the latest cancer statistics. The report talks about ‘a cancer crisis of unmanageable proportions’, and states that ‘progress is a double-edged sword’.

Yes it’s true that more people are surviving cancer, but far more importantly, many more people are getting cancer than ever. That means more people will have their lives totally uprooted by cancer, will have to face gruelling, increasingly unaffordable treatments, and then very possibly to live out their extended lives in pain, disabled, or with treatment side effects that severely erode their quality of life. Macmillan are a powerful voice of non-conformity amidst the stock hyped news of ‘progress’ that we have grown accustomed to. They clearly identify that ‘growing evidence shows that many cancer patients do not return to full health after gruelling treatments and many suffer from serious side effects of the disease.’ To this we would add ‘and of the treatment’.

Macmillan calls on politicians to take serious measures to address this situation, along with the now well-documented shortcomings of widespread late diagnosis, and a desperate lack of compassion in healthcare delivery.

Again we heartily endorse these calls. The issue of lack of compassion and empathy, of course, applies across the board, not only within cancer care. This is a health delivery problem the world over, and in common with many other countries, the UK has struggled to bring about improvements since the 1970s, with little to show for it so far. Hopefully the momentum for change in this area has built up sufficiently to break the dam of resistance to change for good in the very near future.

There is one extremely important ‘call’ that we at Yes to Life would like to add to those of Macmillan. The latest science from luminaries such as Prof Mina Bissel, Distinguished Scientist at Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California points firmly to the fact that cancer is, in the words of Prof Paul Davies ‘not a disease, but a condition’. She concludes from her work, that, more important than trying to kill cancer cells, is making the surrounding microenvironment as healthy as possible. For microenvironment, read ‘body’. She has found that cancer is not so much the enemy that must be killed - a view that warranted the ‘War on Cancer’ - as like some errant teenagers that need some firm discipline and a good example from those around them to bring them into line.

This startlingly different view of cancer should prompt an urgent re-evaluation of all the treatments that seek to strengthen the immune system, boost nutrition, increase oxygen and generally restore the defects that allowed cancer to take hold in the first place.

Another striking difference between these treatment approaches, is that whereas many standard treatments further debilitate an already weakened system through their toxicity, building health has no such treatment shortcomings. In fact, the message of the new science is that there is one simple course of action to avoid cancer, contain an existing cancer and to avoid a recurrence - maximise your health.

This can however be a tall order within ‘developed’ nations since we have compromised the essentials of life - food, air, water, peace. sleep, activity - to such a great extent. It can be a steep
learning curve to even begin to understand how far we have strayed from a healthy way of living, but nonetheless, an increasing number of people are realising the importance and urgency of making the required effort.

Does all this mean that standard treatments are redundant? By no means. The resources invested into developing the science of treatment within this new paradigm have been minuscule in comparison to standard treatments, so its progress to date has been remarkable, considering this. But it is a fledgling science, and at this point many of the best results come from a judicious combination of approaches, termed ‘Integrative Medicine’.

This ‘best of both paradigms’ approach is what Yes to Life would like to see taken seriously in the UK, as we feel that it has the most to offer in actually helping solve some of the entrenched and worsening problems Macmillan are whistleblowing about. Rather than simply asking our politicians to assign an ever greater proportion of GDP to increasingly expensive treatments and long term support of the ‘walking wounded’, thereby pushing the nation ever nearer bankruptcy, we need them to commit to supporting a non-commercial effort to actually free ourselves from the lifestyle diseases we have brought upon ourselves in our headlong rush for wealth. We need a government that puts our people’s wellbeing ahead of profit. We need a healthcare system that cares for our health.

If you have cancer and are looking for support in taking an Integrative approach please call our helpline on 0870 163 2990 or send us an email

Support Macmillan's campaign to make cancer care a political priority here

Find our 2015 calendar of educational seminars and well-being workshops here

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