Volume 3 Issue 4 - Nurse Patricia Peat

Originally published in November-December 2004 icon

Nurse Patricia Peat

Patricia Peat is a registered nurse who has combined vast experience of working in oncology with years of research into natural approaches to dealing with cancer.

Patricia runs Cancer Options a private Integrative Cancer Consultancy.

You can send your questions to Patricia c/o Health Issues Ltd. or e-mail [email protected].

Cancer Options is a specialised team of practitioners providing individual consultancy and coaching into treatment and making decisions for all approaches to cancer.

November & December 2004

My daughter aged nine has completed a great deal of treatment over the last few years including a bone marrow transplant.

This has been extremely arduous for her, but she is now in remission.

The biggest problem is getting her to eat anything nutritious, and we are keen that she receives a well balanced diet to aid her recovery. She lost a lot of weight during treatment, and has not regained it.

It is not that she just refuses to eat, but she gets hysterical when we persuade her against the rubbish she likes, and onto good food. We have tried all sorts of tricks, but she would eat nothing rather than what we suggest. I am beginning to despair. Is this still the effects of the chemotherapy and will it improve?

I doubt if this is an ongoing effect from chemotherapy, at least not in the physical sense. Over the years I have observed many people, including adults, with this problem following treatment, and it appears to be a psychological reaction to trauma, rather than a physical problem with food. Most oncological treatments, especially prolonged ones, involve us overriding our normal fight or flight reactions, and willingly subjecting ourselves to what is effectively quite an assault on the body.

This can manifest in many reactions, and food is a common one. It is possibly a subconscious attempt to regain some control, and the resistance is immense and completely irrational. As you already realise the more you try, generally, the worse it gets. With my patients, the most effective method I have found is hypnotherapy, which gently deprogrammes the psychological triggers your daughter has put in place.

There are quite a few who specialise in treating the cancer related problems such as this, and generally produce very good results.

I have heard that by having a biopsy, you can release cancer cells into the blood stream, which can help the cancer to spread. Therefore, are you doing more harm than good by having a biopsy, and should you have the whole lump removed?

This is a tricky problem. There is a growing amount of evidence that biopsying does release cancer cells; recent research in Germany measured increases in tumour markers immediately following biopsy, and also after insertion of radioactive rods in prostate cancer.

However, biopsying is the easiest and most efficient way in most cases to get information about a potential malignancy. The alternative of removing a whole lump as if it were malignant is never going to be feasible in the real world. That would entail removing every lump that appeared suspicious, in breast cancer for example, nine out of ten lumps are perfectly normal, and some women present with repeated benign lumps year after year. To remove them all would mean many people having surgery who do not actually need it, and would obviously be massively expensive.

Some people also argue that you should not remove the primary tumour as that encourages spread. The opposing argument is that the information you get from the cytology is very valuable to both you and your doctor in planning treatment decisions. You can get a picture of how aggressive the problem is, how quickly you need to act, and many related pieces of information. Removal also reduces tumour load, and the primary will produce many elements, which enable a tumour to thrive and spread, so removal does have many positive arguments.

It would be wise to boost your immune cells prior to, and after a biopsy, to increase your natural killer cell activity. Also, to avoid having one when you have a cold or infection.

I have to start chemotherapy soon, and have been told my hair will fall out, something I am dreading. I have been told I can have ice caps, which sounds pretty horrible. I have been looking for something that will help prevent hair loss; I am told Chinese herbs are particularly good, do you know of anything that helps?

The ice caps do help to slow down the rate of hair loss, but are something you can either manage or not, they are frightfully cold.

This is a problem we have looked into a great deal; there are a lot of remedies, some very expensive, claiming success. We have never found any of them, including Chinese herbs, to make any difference, and there is no clinical evidence behind any of the ingredients, which indicates why they should.

So unless any of our readers have had success in this area, there really is little of value for this problem.

Advice from The Cancer Experts - your questions answered
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