Sunday, 1 July 2018

Cancer Options: Ten Years in Partnership - by Robin Daly, founder of Yes to Life

This week's blog post has been written by the founder of Yes to Life, Robin Daly. As part of our celebration of 10 years in partnership with Cancer Options, he discusses the relationship, Patricia Peat, and how Integrative Medicine is slowly but surely becoming mainstream...

Ten years ago, Yes to Life teamed up with Cancer Options, a consultancy established more than 5 years earlier by Patricia Peat, a highly experienced oncology nurse. Patricia had decided that the scope of cancer treatment needed extending considerably beyond the surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy that were, and still largely are, the exclusive methods of conventional medicine.

At that time, the term Integrative Medicine hadn’t been coined, and all the talk was of either conventional or alternative approaches. It was war. Happily, with the passage of time, hostilities are finally beginning to subside for all but a handful of retrograde quackbusters and conspiracy theorists, who are still slugging it out on the front lines of the internet. We are at last beginning to see the rise of what is now termed Integrative Medicine (IM), a rational synthesis of all the available ways to support people with cancer in regaining their health and wellbeing.

Patricia was very much a pioneer in promoting integration all those years ago. This was as a result of her direct experience of what does and doesn’t work in conventional medicine. Unlike most advocates for the inclusion of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) approaches, her roots were in orthodox practice.

One hallmark of IM is that it truly embraces patient choice, in its breadth and inclusivity, and in its recognition of the multiplicity of factors involved in treating cancer successfully. Yes to Life was created to increase and support patient choice, and so, although we never spoke about IM in the early years, it was implicitly the meeting ground for the two organisations. Through Cancer Options, Yes to Life was able to offer callers to our fledgling Helpline (I was the Helpline at the start) personalised information, shortlisting approaches that could be useful to them, given their diagnosis, stage of disease, budget etc, whether conventional or CAM.

This service was our core offering, and it remains so to this day. Having personally experienced what it is like to try to find this information unaided, I would say that it’s hard to understate the effect that quickly obtaining a concise ‘shopping list’ of expertly selected options can have on someone’s chances of living better and longer. Venturing out into the internet alone and unprepared can be wholly overwhelming and utterly confusing. Cancer is one of the most complex areas of medicine with a singularly opaque language of its own, and for every one of the vast number of approaches to be found, there are supporters and detractors who will pronounce it either miracle cure or certain death, respectively. Making any sense of it all without expert help is nigh on impossible.

I’m proud to say that by working together closely, Cancer Options and Yes to Life have been able to help thousands of people to make their own choices to help themselves; and in many cases, Yes to Life has gone on to support people, both financially and in other ways, to access those choices. This in turn has resulted in many, many stories of remarkable remissions and longevity in the face of dire prognoses. 

All of this would not have been possible without the expertise of Patricia Peat and Cancer Options, who are the UK’s top resource for information on the latest developments in IM for cancer. They make it their business to know about integrative clinics worldwide, the latest science and what is working for any given subset of people with cancer. They are often able to bring attention to methods on offer by the NHS that have not been presented as an option. They are fully aware of the ‘hotspots’ internationally, where clinics are achieving unusually good results and of the reasons this is the case. While there are many places you can get a more in-depth view of a particular branch of treatment or discipline, the overview of choices offered by Cancer Options is unparalleled.

I’m delighted by our achievements and the ongoing success of the partnership and I’m grateful to Patricia for her support of our charitable mission. I am looking forward to achieving even more together in the years to come.

If you would like to know more about Cancer Options, head to their website or call the Helpline on 0870 163 2990.

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