Today I received a copy ofÂ Icon, a magazine produced by Canceractive which provides “integrated cancer & oncology news”. I read an article on Professor Karol Sikora, consultant oncologist at the Hammersmith Hospital who is a supporter of integrating conventional and complementary therapies in the treatment of cancer.
He is very interesting on the subject of hope, a commodity which I have mentioned seems to be in short supply at Calderdale Hospital.
“There is a further area in which orthodox and complementary medicines make difficult bedfellows. And that,” says Sikora, “is the unfathomable quality of hope. If you have had, for argument’s sake, three different types of chemotherapy for, let us say, metastatic colon cancer, there is, realistically, not much more orthodox medicine can do for you. A doctor may not want to force that information on somebody, but if asked directly whether there is anything else to be tried, you have to say ‘probably not’. People then react in different ways: some curl up and die, some embark on a round-the world or Internet odyssey searching out secret cancer cures. Many complementary practitioners,” says Sikora, “take a different view. They won’t give up. I remember having a right ding dong at a meeting with Bristol and the Hammersmith about the issue of hope. Is it ethical to say there is nothing more to be done, even if you are approaching medicine as a hospital technician? If you gon’t convey that message are you offering false hope, which was the accusation levelled by the orthodox against the complementary. Not so,” says Sikora, clearly a clinician with heart. “To improve the quality of life is an aim in itself. And if part of that quality of life stems from imparting hope, then delivering it must be part of the package.”
I have so far only had one course of chemotherapy not the three he is talking about here & have been considerably deterred from undergoing further treatments because I gained the impression from my meeting with the oncologist that my case is hopeless. This has been further reinforced when I phoned the clinic to get some information & could hear the change in tone in the nurse’s voice from how she used to speak to me when there was a chance of cure. She also made a remark which included the sentence, “Well now we’re not talking about curative treatments.” If only there were more doctors like Professor Sikora around, ones who can offer some hope to patients.