Together Against Cancer – Conference 2013 – Queen Mary University of London

I received a very last minute invitation on Thursday night to attend, as their guest, the Together Against Cancer Conference.

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A quick glance through the programme led me to believe that the content may be more ‘alternative’ than ‘complementary’ to cancer treatment but I wanted to understand a little more.

You will know from this blog that personally I do not believe in ‘alternative’ therapies.  I have grave concerns about many of those ‘on offer’ taking advantage of people at their lowest ebb and indeed benefiting financially from this advantage. Yes, of course, there are miracle cures that we read about. However there appears to be little statistical evidence or sufficient follow up reports that would prove a long term benefit or meet clinical trial standards. As I say, that is my personal view and personal choice.  I’m also very aware that a cancer journey is a personal one and decisions must be made by the individual – but that decision should be ‘informed’.

I do believe and advocate, complementary treatments and therapies that work alongside and in conjunction with medical treatments and also in discussion with the patient’s medical team. I also believe that many people don’t think about complementary therapies or perhaps don’t know what is on offer or worry that their medical teams may not ‘approve’. More needs to be done to advocate for governed complementary therapies to be widely available, accessible and regulated in the UK.

I’m hoping my first impressions of the conference being all about ‘alternative’ therapies is wrong.. but here goes.

Please note that throughout this feedback I have para-phrased each speaker’s presentation using notes taken at the conference. Any of my own comments are in green italic.

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Registration/Morning Coffee Together Against Cancer
Meeting and greeting with others. Always an interesting discussion to find out why people attend these conferences and what they want to obtain.  I spoke to a couple of people who were hear to find out more about alternative routes having decided not to follow conventional medical treatment for their cancer.

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The introduction and welcome was from Larry Mackay, Chairman of Together Against Cancer.

This is the 1st annual health conference in the UK and is a new venture for them. The conference participation isn’t full however it’s the first year and it is hoped that this will change to become a much bigger conference than this inaugural one. Larry pointed out that in the UK, people wait to get ill before attending a health conference!

He hopes that the attendees are there to see how to change and improve their own health. I’m wondering however the percentage of attendees who are here for themselves or represent organisations or who have been invited, like me.

He told a story about why he set up Together Against Cancer. Spurred on by the death of a close family friend, he sought answers. His journey has taken him around the world, met with an incredible amount of people, researched many therapies, heard about lots of programs and a better understanding of what people are searching for.

5 yrs ago he came to the UK and heard about some of the UK programs on offer. Through Together Against Cancer they are supporting many of these programs (see brief list at bottom of this blog entry).

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Gerson Therapy: Beata Bishop
Beata Bishop from the Gerson Support Group talks about the Gerson Therapy and her own remarkable healing journey.

Small news item said “30% of all children up to age of 15 who present at A&E diagnosed with cancer”… 10 yrs since we allowed our children to have electronic devices on their person and use them day and night. Is this a coincidence?

We hear constantly about statistics that say 1 in 2 people etc. We accept it . We don’t ask ‘Why?’. We are causing it ourselves. Because of technology we have completely forgotten that we are part of nature. We live as if we weren’t. Look at our lifestyle, our nutrition, the stress – all these things contribute to undermining us as an organism.

Unless we stop this symptomatic treatment – general stuff that we put into public opinion – and look at how we can revert to some sort of natural life we will not be able to fight cancer successfully.

Real subject – Gerson Therapy.
I am not saying this is the only valued and successful alternative therapy for cancer. I don’t believe that there is just one solution. But I do believe that this particular therapy which is a complete system I know intimately. Please accept this as a presentation of my personal experience and working with others. I want to present simply and clearly as possible.

Diagnosed in 1979 with a small mole, accidentally discovered. Diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Stage 4. Extensive surgery to remove. Afterwards just follow ups 4-5 weeks for checkups. “Go home and resume your life where you have left it”.

1 yr later it was back and in the lymphatic system. Being a journalist I did my own research and knew this wasn’t good news.

Offered more surgery. Felt this wasn’t going to be the right thing.

A friend suggested The Gerson Therapy.

I read his book. What I read in Dr Gerson’s book. It was logical. To sum it up he maintained that cancer was not a thing but it was a process which involves the whole body. Unless the process is being stopped there is no reason why the cancer shouldn’t occur. There are 2 reasons for serious disease to set in. One is deficiency – doesn’t eat nutrients it needs to remain healthy. The second is toxicity. Air water etc. Immune system was developed to deal with natural things, not the toxic things. Hence the immune system is no longer able to do it all.

I looked at my lifestyle and realised why I had cancer.

Found a holistic physician in London and went to Mexico to the Gerson Clinic. 13 glasses of freshly made juices a day. Organic vegan meals x 3. Colonic irrigation daily. Lots of caster oil and some natural medicines to promote your digestion and strengthen the body.

She had also been diagnosed with onset of type 2 diabetes. The Dr told her this would ‘go’ as would the arthritis.

3 weeks on this intensive therapy another blood test was done and no sign of diabetes. Arthritis also went.

In Mexico for 2 months on this therapy. It’s not easy. Everything aches. Bad flu symptoms.

Back to London where her house was stocked for continuing the treatment at home. Continued with it for 2 years. As you get better the therapy is phased out so that after the first year you can go down to 10 juices and 3 enemas!

Until your liver is totally restored you are not cured. Don’t stop until it is restored entirely.

So then I wanted to tell everyone there is another way to survive. You have to do what you can.

Since March 1983 I have been on Gerson maintenance which means I’m careful what I eat, drink and do. NO stress, no harmful habits. I’m now involved in the Gerson work.

My book ‘A time to heal’ gives information about the therapy.

In 1993 another recovered patient and I funded the Gerson support group. Interest was becoming quite strong and this other patient and I had about 25 phone calls each day. We founded this group and doing fantastic work. We represent the Gerson therapy in this country for information. Since 2009 a Gerson health centre is functioning in Hungary, near Budapest.

Healing the Gerson Way” – Handbook

What we are trying to do is show that there is another way. Not putting the medical world down but saying that we need to do everything to build up the body to heal. It restores the body to an optimal condition to look after itself.

Non malignant conditions on Gerson can be treated more quickly and less intensively.

Things are moving in the right direction. People are more informed about what is available. People are asking more questions. Kathryn Alexander, one of the world’s leading nutritional therapists and who is also on the board at the Gerson Institute is working on a book about the nutritional aspects.  (Coincidentally I met Kathryn when I lived in Australia – small world!)

There is also a published report by researchers from Eberhardt University where they have demonstrated that the immune system has the ability to send cancer cells and tumours into permanent dormancy.

We can stop it. It is hard work of course.

When you use the words ‘alternative medicine’ people get cross and don’t understand. I’d like to point out hat Dr Gerson was the most conservative Dr you could wish for. He trained and had no time for charlatans. If anyone is less like a hippy it’s him. He was a scientist who didn’t take anything for granted. He had good results with TB and then cancer. When he was to present his findings to a high level medical committee who were going to fund him in Berlin if his results showed what he claimed. Then this didn’t happen Hitler came to power and Dr Gerson was Jewish so fled with his family. In the US he was quashed by the medical world who suffered for being right. His book ‘A Cancer Therapy – Results of 50 cases”. He continued to heal people but without the support of the medical world.

Questions:

Q. Is the treatment compatible with working?
A. No, you are under house arrest. I had help from my mother and one or two friends. I figured I’d recover and repay the money lent to me.

Q. You said that part of the treatment is to release toxins from the liver. Do they go into the blood stream?
A. No it goes out via the enema and usual ways.

Q. You’re a psychotherapist as well. Could you talk about that?
A. The Gerson Therapy as such has no psychological support as he was a scientific and medical doctor. I’m committed to the body/mind link. I know what enormous fluctuations you experience if you are ill. When the toxins are released, you can become horrid and tetchy. Yes it is important not to keep the feelings in. When there is a flare up it is both physical and mental. Warn your friends and family first!

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Post Cancer Lifestyle Strategies: Prof. Robert Thomas
Robert Thomas’s talk summarises the UK and international evidence from clinic studies, which show that physical activity, nutrition and other lifestyle strategies after cancer can have major benefits for individuals with cancer, their families and health providers.

Evidence based lifestyle and self help strategies after Cancer.
Incidence of cancer is going up but so is the numbers of survivors.

Conventional treatments do have high level of toxicity and little psychological support.

World Cancer Research Fund – 50% of cancer could be prevented by healthy lifestyles.
• Obesity
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Environmental carcinogen exposure
• Smoking, alcohol
• Sun burning
• Poor diet

WCRF – 10 ways to prevent cancer.

Is it too late to change? Most people feel they are invincible. After developing cancer they look for things to change or perhaps improve.

An increasing wealth of published evidence strongly suggest there is a link between lifestyle and cancer. I have written a book, Your Lifestyle After Cancer – Facts to Help you Live Longer and Live Better.

We need to find ways to find out why we are giving permission for a cancer cell to grow. We have cancer cells in our bodies all the time – it’s normal and the bodies own immune system fights it.

Proven scientifically: Patients who exercise after cancer have reduced fatigue, anxiety, etc. This was published in the BMJ in support of this report.

Exercise and bone density – calcium and vitamin D show no evidence of helping… exercise trials do.

Lifestyle changes are needed too – smoking, alcohol, etc etc

Cases in various studies of cancer patients evidence that 3-5 hours of exercise a week gives much lesser risk of relapse.

Diet and environmental issues after cancer:
We know if you have a healthy diet, high fibre, antioxidants, fruit and vegetables there is a significant difference in relapse rate and length of survival.

Anti-cancer nutrients: carcinogens
Balance of what we take in. Hard to avoid but we need to increase our anti-cancer foods. There is a chapter in my book and downloadable from CancerNet.co.uk

Also if you google “acraylamines” there is a lot of information about their link to cancer. The American Cancer Society has also published a piece about the link here.

Is there evidence that by reducing your carcinogenic exposure after cancer will aid your health?
Yes.

Polyphenol rich diets have a lower risk of cancer.

One of the controversial items relates to Soya. There are chaning views. Soya.. changing views regarding these phytoestrogens. However the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study proved that higher consumption of soya shows less relapse and longer survival. This must be natural soya however.

What about supplements?
We know if you’re deficient then supplements are good for you.
Careful of which ones you’re using. Use natural supplements but preferably by consuming the natural ingredient ie fruit and veg etc.

General advice is to stick to healthy foods. Take supplements and minerals to correct a known deficiency but only if tested as deficient.

CancerNet offer testing for deficiencies however you may be able to get the same testing via your own GP.

The FDA have a fairly conclusive list of oxygen radical absorbance capacity. The ORAC.

The most known ones are green tea; pomegranate; broccoli and curcumin (turmeric).

He then spoke about the NCRI Complementary research division in particular with reference to foods that best fight cancer. You can read about the trial here. ‘Pomi-T’ synergistic anti cancer effects. www.pomi-t.com is a product that has been developed using the whole foods. The study showed a proven benefit for men’s PSA results.

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AFTERNOON SESSIONS

Dorothy Crowther – Therapeutic cancer care – Wirral Holistic Care Services
This presentation will define the deficiencies in cancer care that a three-year independent study identified. The results of this study led to the setting up of the charity Wirral Holistic Care Services in 1988. This paper will also demonstrate how this initiative has evolved into a patient-led and patient-directed service.

The overall outcome of this service is Improving Quality of Life. A description of the services the Charity provides, together with the model of care that the Charity has devised and developed over the years will be presented in detail. A brief overview will be given on how the Charity has developed a partnership in care with the Local Health Authority and General Practitioners.

“It’s all about living”
Charity was set up based on data collected from patients over a 3 year period between 1984-87. A great many of the problems were similar but were discussed rarely and certainly not always addressed within medical environments.

The range of problems that patients were talking about at a self-help group included:
– Lack of emotional/psychological support
– Insufficient information about diagnosis
– Little or no information about any ongoing treatment
– Patient unaware that he/could decide on the type of treatment
– Lack of education on how to self care when discharged
– No information on external supporting organisations

In 1987 they took proactive action and produced a report, wrote a cover letter and then sent it to the District General Manager of the NHS in 1988. Within the letter they stated that the report should be taken to the management committee. By that evening, I had a meeting with the Director for the next morning. He accepted our findings. However he questioned what do you want us to do about it? Oh and by the way… there’s no money.

With the assistance of the Royal College of Nursing we were able to raise awareness with the nurses at their conference in 1988.

The money was found to help.

The charity and a company was set up in August 1988.
We were given one room Clatterbridge Hospital (in health promotion unit not oncology).

Organised training courses on communications on believe that if health care professionals listened to patients then they might stop some of the problems. We created and hosted courses on stress management for patients and health care professionals.

We hoped that the health professionals would take action and use these new skills.

We moved to St Catherine’s Hospital location – small room and one year. ‘Borrowed another room’ and set up a telephone helpline to see if they could reproduce the problems identified over the 3 year period. The calls confirmed them. A team of district nurses volunteered to manage the telephone helpline.

Drop-in facility on a Monday. Monday doesn’t work – people are busy! We are now open all week and it’s noted that there’s always less people on a Monday!

We also noticed that men used the telephone less than the women but used the drop-in facility more.

We were contacted by a lady doing meditation and she in bought in other complementary therapists. We hosted an open afternoon which bought people through the door to understand what it was about. We were packed with people attending.

We set up a system in 2 rooms and then borrowed rooms to treat patients with what they wanted ie complementary therapies.

We put in a bid for a disused ward at St Catherine’s Hospital. We still had no money. Held the ward for 2 years with no money.

When someone else wanted the ward we asked for an interest free loan to renovate the ward.

Renovation on a budget with the whole team chipping in. 17 years we were there in the end.

8 years ago we found out the ward was to be demolished. We were offered alternative accommodation (but none were right!).

We bought property with investments from a number of people and Trusts and the team raised the rest. We now have 12 therapy rooms, offices and an additional room.

So why was data collection important? We needed evidence. We also needed to present it in a professional report thereby being taken seriously with evidence backing up our requests.

We now have a course on Nutritional Detoxification which has now been approved and certified.

We are independent of the NHS rules and their model of care but needed to put together our own aims and rules. A selection are below:

Aims
– Understand the person behind the illness and work in partnership
– Improve Quality of Life
– Empower patients with knowledge and confidence
– Help patients overcome their fears
– Provide psychological support

We are a provider to the NHS.

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Penny Brohn Cancer Care: Catherine Zollman
Catherine Zollman. Lead Doctor for Penny Brohn Cancer Care (giving a broad view of the services the centre provides, benefits to clients, talking about the whole person approach, integrative medicine, changes coming in cancer treatment and service, share on the new Treatment Support Clinic she has developed as a very joined up approach with the hospital)

Penny Brohn Cancer Care Whole Person Approach to Survivorship.
How do we support people affected by cancer? Including partners, families etc.

I didn’t take notes during Catherine Zollman’s presentation as I’ve spoken before about the incredible work at Penny Brohn Cancer Centre in Bristol and their National Programme for the Living Well course.

Catherine spoke about the importance of supporting not only the patient but also the supporters, partners and carers. She explained more about the work at the Centre, their holistic approach to care and nurturing.

The only thing that I will add to this post is a link to a YouTube clip from New Scientist “Human granulocytes kill cervical cancer cells“.  I’ve seen this clip before at the Penny Brohn Centre but it never ceases to amaze me that we don’t consider that we all have cancer cells within our body – as the norm.  However our fabulous bodies and our immune systems usually set about killing them, as in this clip.

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Ten Steps to Beat Cancer: Prof. Jane Plant – Prof of Environmental Geochemistry, Imperial College
Prof. Jane Plant talking about the Ten Steps to Beat Cancer, which highlights the latest scientific evidence that epigenetic factors such as diet are of critical importance in promoting the disease. Recent finding from the University of California show that more than 400 cancer genes can be turned off and almost 50 protective genes turned on by simple lifestyle and dietary changes. Prof Plant will provide ten dietary and lifestyle factors that can be used in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

26 year ago discovered a lump. Mastectomy and away and you’re fine.
I sought something else. Found a diet of sorts.
Found more lumps. Radiotherapy. New lump somewhere else.
Worked a lot in China and received herbal suppositories from a friend in China.
I looked at China to try to work out why they don’t have much breast cancer. My conclusion was that in China they don’t have dairy.
Gave up the 2 organic low fat yogurts every day. Tumour shank and disappeared. New lump on chest. I looked at what I had eaten and discovered that I had had powdered dairy in my diet without realising.

I created and followed the Plant programme and next scan my lump then reduced and eventually disappeared. I absolutely believe that diet is the main factor in cancer.

New Book – Beat Cancer – “The 10 step plan to help you overcome and prevent cancer.”

“As someone who has had breast cancer, you are more likely to have anxiety and stress and depression”

Another study ’Cancers of Affluence’  evidences where it affects western environment and financial places.

I looked at the world figures – some of the Asian poor countries have much lower mortality rate for breast cancer.

The 10 steps.
– Taking away the terror
– Understanding the Healing Hierarchy
– Orthodox treatments
– Complementary therapies with evidence base
– Diet – 10 food factors from the Plant Programme
– Exercise
– Avoiding harmful substances
– Stress reduction social/emotional factors
– Spiritual help
– Telling us the truth about risk (the politics of cancer).

CANCER – mainly a genetic disease?
No, it’s epigenetic.

Caterpillar, pupa and butterfly have the same genetics!

Think of cancer being the butterfly that has flipped back to being a caterpiller.

Cancer is our own cells behaving badly.
Abnormal expression of otherwise normal genes.
Interaction of our genome with diet lifestyle and environment.

If we look at the Ornish study. What has happened to the genetics of the cancer?
Men who had gone for the exercise, diet and etc – only 48 protective genes had been turned on and 453 cancer genes had been turned off.

Restoring Balance – Homeostasis)
YIN and YANG
Balance between stress and rest.

At the point when a cancer cell is to metastasise it becomes very electrically excitable… similar to a heart ECG, you can get a cancer ECG.

Don’t add salts to your diet. Cancer cells like sodium.

Seed and soil – we need to spend more time looking at the soil rather than seed. Diet can be affected by bad soil. This is why organic produce is key and knowing where your products have come from.

It is also worth noting that with the increase of westernised diets into Asian countries, the mortality has changed and deaths have been increasing.

Milk products supply 60—80% of ingested female sex steroids.
20% from other animal products
Milk contains over 35 different hormones and 11 growth factors.

I am really keen you don’t have dairy… as it’s produced today!

My book “Eating for Better Health’ – Jane Plant, explains this in more detail.

Potential Renal Acid Load – Remer & Manz 1995 also talking about the acid/alkali in the body.

So what should you eat:

Carbs:
Unrefined wholegrain
Fruit and vegetables are really good
As are herbs and spices.

Exercise especially in green space or by water.

Work is a powerful aid to recovery.

Another book of ours is Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression – Prof Jane Plant and Janet Stephenson.

I would also recommend you look at the book reviews for The Politics of Cancer Revisited 2011 – By Dr Samuel Epstein.

Q&A Session

Q – Patricia Peat oncology nurse said that tap water is full of oestrogens. What do you think?
A – I filter my water in active charcoal. No plastic bottles.

Q – Recycling plastic bottles into clothing – and synthetic clothing. Is there must research into clothes made from plastic bottles?
A – I haven’t seen any research. I don’t like soft plastics ie clingfilm etc.

Q – Eat right for your blood type book – what do you think?
A – I’ve read it but not persuaded by it. Asian countries don’t eat by blood type.

Q – Is the green tea we buy in supermarkets still good for us?
A – Buy your green tea from a Korean/Asian store.

Q – Does your diet work for sarcoma patients?
A – I know it doesn’t work with lung cancer. Never tried with sarcomas.

It is only sold as being for breast and prostate cancer however this wasn’t evident from this presentation and I worry that it may have an adverse affect for people with other ‘untested’ cancers.

Jane also stated “I’ve treated a lot of people with colorectal cancer” – I need to question ‘treated’ to her qualifications.

Jane also told us of a Myth – “If people are on clinical trials they are scanned over and over… it’s not safe.”. Not all clinical trials require regular scans nor at a frequency where the scans may be more harmful than progressive cancer.

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The Mary How Trust: Roanne Moore-Loizides and Beverley Richards
Roanne and Beverley, from The Mary How Trust, explain the origins of the Trust, and show how, with the help of the charity’s supporters, they are helping people to ‘Stay Healthy, Take Control’. They will describe the Mary How Trust’s unique health screening programme, together with case studies.

The speakers told us more about Mary How, why the Trust was set up by her husband and what it continues to do now.

The Mary How Trust provides free health screening and lifestyle advice. It is funded entirely on donations and fundraising.

The aim of the free screening check is to ensure any symptoms of cancer are spotted early. We know from all areas of research that earlier diagnosis of cancer has a better long term prognosis for the individual.

For many people concerned with familial risks or perhaps unable to afford private screening and without private insurance, the service offered could be invaluable to their long term health.

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The Closing Address was from Larry Mackay.

5 years in the UK. Why here in the UK? Just coming home!!

Can something good come out of something bad? This is how Together against Cancer came about…. Good from the bad of my friend dying.

In the US they’re way too aggressive with their chemo and radiotherapy.

Oasis of Hope in the US – Dr Contreras fixing the fear. They provide a number of Alternative therapies and treatments.

Stress will kill you!

We have to learn to relax and change our lifestyles. Change the way we eat. Getting a good night’s sleep. Drinking lots of water.

Q&A Session
Q – What’s your measuring stick for your organisation?
A – There isn’t one. We do what we can. From time to time people thank you.

Some of the other organisations supported by Together Against Cancer are:

Freshwinds – Integrated Medicine – Integrating Conventional and Complementary Medicine Safety

Old Mill Foundation – Holistic Cancer Support Centre

Dove Cottage Day Hospice

Destiny Medical Fund in Philippines.

Kids ‘N’ Cancer – Assisting children and their families

Star Throwers – Providing holistic advice and support to cancer patients and their families

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