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Prof. Nicola Robinson

Prof. Nicola Robinson

Back to the NCCSHG conference, I’m now looking at the presentations made by a series of fabulous and interesting folks on a variety of topics. The first was Professor Nicola Robinson of Thames Valley University on the subject of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) and especially research.
So what is CAM – Prof. Robinson described it as ‘health care lying outside conventional medicines’. She also said that 80% of the world’s population relies on what we call ‘alternative’ medicine. So really what we mean by conventional medicine is modern science-based disease care. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, that modern care may very well save their life. But it is not the whole answer. If it was, there would not be an upsurge in the demand from patients for CAM treatments and therapies.
According to Prof. Robinson, 86% of cancer patients use CAM to complement conventional treatment. The reasons for this include:

  • dissatisfaction with conventional treatments offered
  • attempts to lessen the impact of side-effects of conventional treatment
  • wanting a holistic approach (which also relates to patient empowerment)
  • alleviating the effects of chronic disease which can be managed but not cured

According to a book I read recently, ‘Cancer : 50 Essential Things to Do’ by Greg Anderson, people who have survived in spite of being told they are terminally ill have several strategies in common. One of the most powerful of these is being pro-active about their own health. They regard it as their job to become well, not someone else’s job to fix what is wrong with them. I believe CAM has an important part to play in this. 96% of the survivors Greg Anderson interviewed had undertaken a course of conventional treatment – but they also looked at such areas as nutrition, exercise and spiritual development. (I will review this book in more detail in a future post)
So CAM has a place in cancer care. In the UK more than 90% of cancer care centres offer some kind of touch based therapy. Professor Robinson’s role is in investigating what the benefits are. How do we measure the improvements that people experience? How can we give people more information to empower them to make informed choices about the therapies they want to integrate into their care?
I, for one, am pleased to see that both money and energy are being put into taking the best from all healing traditions so we can have a future where wellness is a priority. I hope that the research will also look at how therapies can be used to reduce stress, for instance for family members of those with cancer. My gut feeling is that this could have a preventative effect and reduce the likelihood of going on to develop stress-related illnesses as a result of supporting someone else.
If you have used CAM treatments, either as a person with cancer or a supporter, I would love to hear from you what difference it made to you.

With best wishes,
Anne x

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