Why is sensible living called ‘CAM’? – What is the point of Treatment?

I have learned a lot this week about research; especially how easy it is on the net, cancer, and how life weaves us all together to make more of us than we were apart.

I agree that Chrystal et al published in January 2003 does seem to miss a lot.

Being so dated, I wonder how only 3% now would think of using the internet for research, in 2012 with such an explosion of internet usage?

I found on this site http://www.budde.com.au/Research/New-Zealand-Telecoms-Mobile-Broadband-and-Forecasts.html

“ . . . close to a 100% increase in the number of mobile broadband subscribers since mid-2009 to early 2012. Has mobile broadband now representing a sizeable portion of the country’s total broadband subscriber base.

WiFi will form a small part of the RBI coverage to deploy the coverage into rural areas. In early 2012 mobile network operator 2degrees has around 17% market share in just over two years since launching in the previous duopoly mobile market.”

When we add this up to the usage of the new generation phones with ‘Apps’ and how often people whip their phones out to check everything, we can imagine how internet savvy at least one person in the extended family of anyone diagnosed with cancer who is seeking help could be.

I find it strange that the entire conversation everywhere on cancer errs on the side of acceptance that the current conventional very brutal methods of waging war on the body are the best way forwards.

If choosing to use this approach, and as the side effects of western orthodox medicine (WOM) cancer therapy are so shattering, that there is not more widespread use of at least what there is research towards.

In the words of Crystal et al (2003) 

Acupuncture and hypnotherapy are complementary therapies that have been shown to improve chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and also have benefit in pain control, yet these were not widely used by patients in our study (8% and 2% respectively)”.

If thinking of using standard medical interventions, most people would be wondering about living through the side effects.

Having heard of the drama of those undergoing the therapies, I would, if deciding to use orthodox, be very clearly seeking help in CAM.


I would extrapolate that if any research findings showed herbs to help I would be trying them – regardless of what kind of cancer I found myself with.

Looking at the Cochrane reviews, my research on anti emetic Chinese herbs (Wu, 2005) finds that there is no evidence of harm, and although the studies have “low reliability”, they show that immune responses are also improved using herbs.

Why is this not touted as at least totally safe – and possibly beneficial – as an informed choice issue for those putting themselves at such inconvenience?

As a patient, would I tell my oncologist I was trialing other methods to help myself survive their treatment should I be undergoing their care?

Possibly I would not, as those mentioned in the Crystal study.

Although it is hard to gauge how we would be if we found ourselves in this situation, I suspect I would feel that without the WOM professionals knowing what caused the breakdown in normal cell death leading to the cancer, I suspect I would realize they would likely also have no clue as to what would make me worse.

I would be looking for another system that explained wellness and how to get there.  One that looked to the whole of me.

The entire aim of treatment or life after diagnosis for me would be tied into the pursuit of wellness, not just the death of the part of myself that had gone ‘rogue’.

Possibly that would set me apart from the masses – as embracing cancer would seem to me to be a more gentle way to heal myself.

Being self responsible is not what WOM has lead the population into – possibly in part due to the reliance on medications to take over from common sense, reversing out of what caused the problems to develop, and using the living and eating parameters within the limits set by the body and its needs.

Another very large mismatch to reality I feel in the article follows is in the definition of CAM.

There are entire medical systems, not just those listed in this article called CAM which look to the entire body – as does Classical acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayevedic medicine – all with extensive health maintenance traditions.

There is a whole world out there beyond the current debate WOM – CAM.

Just looking at the role of lifestyle – it helps explain why it is called CAM – anything therapeutic not focused on the war against symptoms and disease.

The role of a more nutritious diet, sunshine (Vit D essential for the wellness and fat soluble vitamins essential for life), exercise, clean air and water (non toxinated), visualisation, meditation, in the return to health and wellbeing, whether with or without the invasive WOM therapies all surely play a part in healing.

  • Why are these called CAM?
  • Are they not just sensible self care measures?

I have found the clue.

Looking at the definition of WOM – the US National Cancer Institute (NCI 2009a) defines Orthodox Medicine (OM) as

“a system in which medical doctors, and other health care professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists and therapists) treat symptoms and disease using drugs, radiation or surgery.”


Return to health, any form of restorative medicine or practices, and wellness living all fall outside the scope of practice of an orthodox medical practitioner, whose job is to sort out symptoms and eradicate disease.

Coulter, Willis (2007) talks of vitalism, (the acceptance of all living organisms as sustained by a vital force that is both different from, and greater than, physical and chemical forces), how a sense of this is within CAM and how it is missing in WOM.

  • How is the body to heal itself – surely it has ways and means?
  • Explainable in simple physiological terms?

It is just so obvious I have missed it all these years.

  • The specialist in disease is the doctor. 
  • The specialist in health is NOT the doctor. 
  • They even define themselves as treating symptoms and disease.

CAM then covers what WOM does not – everything related to (the return to) health and (maintaining) well being.

As the ‘scary’ cancer diagnosis (for some it is a ‘pointing of the bone’) takes place within the scope of practice of the WOM specialists, they will chose preferentially to launch attacks and wars on the person’s body, not undo why it arrived.

BUT the cancer has been grown by the body – and surely will do so again unless why it is there is addressed?

As an aware patient, I would be wanting to know the point of knocking off my immune system when it has obviously been remiss in keeping the cells that turned traitor – cancerous – in check.

I would be searching for answers as to how to get to where I would want to be at the end – at peace – alive or dead (as we will all die at some point) – with as little disruption to my body’s own inherent healing abilities as possible.

‘Who has to drive this agenda’?


Where would I find the information when the standard medical ways are not looking where I want to go?

My focus would not be the eradication of the very part of myself (the cells that have abandoned order) that is calling for change.

  • Is my disease in the body – or just showing up there?
  • Is there non physical things to looked at?

This is where an understanding of other cultures’ traditional medical systems then becomes useful. A browse in the Tibetan one, where karma (consequences of past thoughts and actions), and evil spirit possession are considered massive is past where we are heading here.

If my cancer (and the symptoms) are taken out and the cancer’s instructions are still left there for later – what will activate them again?

Not taking responsibility for who I am and how I have lived will surely create the cancer again?

To answer your question – ‘who is fighting for the patient?’ – I suspect it ultimately is the person who created the problem – the ‘patient’.

They are the ones who have to live with the consequences of all actions or inactions taken.

Who best to answer who drives this?

Perhaps it is the journey of life and we are writing the script with every breath.

A journey just in finding the questions to ask,


1-  http://www.budde.com.au/Research/New-Zealand-Telecoms-Mobile-Broadband-and-Forecasts.html

2 – http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?cdrid=454746

3 – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004540.pub2/abstract

4 – Chrystal, K., Allan, S., Forgeson, G., & Isaacs, R. (2003). The use of complementary/alternative medicine by cancer patients in a New Zealand regional cancer treatment centre. The New Zealand medical journal, 116(1168), U296. URL:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12601420

5 – Clifford, Terry, Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry, 1987  (lost in the earthquaked boxes presently).

6- Coulter, Willis (2007) Health Sociology Review (2007) 16: 214–225, (class handouts)

7- My own 35 years of health care observations and research

8 – Conversations with those undergoing and surviving cancer – using orthodox and self responsive methods.

9 –  Wu T, Munro AJ, Guanjian L, Liu GJ. Chinese medical herbs for chemotherapy side effects in colorectal cancer patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004540. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004540.pub2.