In the hospital waiting room, heart pounding and mind whirring, surrounded by a sea of apprehensive-looking fellow patients, I settled in to wait for my name to be called. Outside the sun was shining on a warm winter’s afternoon, but I was anticipating a fairly long delay before I could break out of my surroundings and enjoy the unseasonal weather.
It has always intrigued me why we have to spend so much time in doctors’ waiting rooms before appointments. It is a universal condition that I have come to expect. Maybe doctors get too involved with their patients to worry about time management. Even so, I always make sure I am on time, just in case the doctor is too.
To my surprise this was one of those occasions. I was jerked back to reality, abandoning the whirling dervishes of my thoughts, when I heard my name called. I looked up to see the tall, white-clad figure of a woman in her early thirties, holding a file in her right hand, which I presumed to be mine.
I followed her into her office thinking, okay Barry, this is it, as I held my breath waiting for the verdict. The doctor introduced herself as my oncologist’s registrar, explaining that he was away that day. The look of concern must have been written all over my face as she opened my file and removed a sheet of paper.
‘You can relax. Your latest scans are clear — they show that there is no further evidence of cancer in the treated area.’
These were the words I had waited to hear from the oncologist for over six months. Six anxious, exhausting months, which at times seemed as if they would never end and which included three unexpected major surgical operations and seven weeks of intensive radiotherapy treatments.
Yes, But What If...?
In the days leading up to what I prayed was to be my final medical appointment, my nerves were still jangling, no matter how hard I tried to calm them. Even though intuitively I felt that the treatments were successful, there was this small nagging voice that popped into my head from time to time, whispering, yes, but what if ...?
My son Matt and I had written two screenplays together and our director Michael Carson had always encouraged us to explore the what-if scenario when we were looking for potential plot developments. This phrase has now ingrained itself as a subconscious reaction whenever life takes a new twist. Actually, I come out with it all too often. My partner Anne often scolds me with, ‘I don’t want to go into any what ifs.’
When I heard those magic words that day, the relief swept over me like a cooling sea breeze on a hot summer’s day as my stressful what ifs dissipated.
The Search for the Magical Answer?
The search for the magical answer to cure cancer would seem to still be a long way off, but we all live in hope and optimism.
The news of rock legend David Bowie’s passing in 2016 shocked the world. Coming just a few days after the release of his much awaited new album Blackstar, it was completely unexpected by those outside his inner circle. Bowie had kept his battle with liver cancer a secret for eighteen months, before finally succumbing.
In 2011 Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, passed from complications following the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2003. Jobs allegedly expressed regret at only using alternative treatments for his cancer — he had chosen not to go down the route of mainstream treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. However, he is reported to have had a liver transplant from a metastasis two years before he passed and took immune suppressing anti-rejection drugs. Mainstream doctors later confirmed that complications from this operation may have caused his death.
Cancer Council Australia states that, ‘the five year survival rate for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is around 7%’. Yet Steve Jobs survived for some eight years only using alternative treatments. Would he have extended his life even further by combining mainstream treatments with his alternative practices? We will never know.
Can we just dismiss complementary medicines and treatment out of hand simply because certain medical authorities are closed-minded skeptics and reject anything outside of the mainstream pharmaceutical arena? I believe it becomes a matter for each patient to make these decisions, one way or another after doing careful research.
More and more people are questioning the mainstream methods of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and are looking for less invasive answers to this insidious disease. Such treatment is even coming under question from the establishment. In 2015 the American Cancer Council released a document entitled ‘Second Cancers in Adults’ which raised the question ‘How does radiation therapy and chemotherapy affect the risk of second cancers?’ I recommend the ACS website for those interested in pursuing this revealing line of investigation.
In 2015 Ty and Charlene Bollinger produced The Truth About Cancer, A Global Quest, a controversial nine-part documentary video series for ‘the courageous person who is seeking to reverse cancer or prevent cancer while seeking a natural approach to healing’. They travelled firstly across the United States and then around the rest of the world interviewing top scientists, doctors, researchers and cancer patients who are ‘preventing, treating and beating cancer’, according to the transcripts of the interviews. It is a fascinating compendium of research and information first released on the internet and now available in DVD and book form, and it certainly challenges many mainstream medical beliefs.
However it seems that we may also be on the verge of significant breakthroughs in the mainstream field of cancer research.
A news story released in early 2016 said that US scientists have announced they may have made a cancer treatment breakthrough, by using a patient’s own immune cells to treat leukaemia. Professor Stanley Riddell, an immunotherapy researcher at the world renowned Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, stated that using treated immune cells wiped out cancer in twenty-seven of twenty-nine patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in one trial. A small but encouraging trial.
The patients had previously failed all other treatments. Cancer was also reduced in six out of seven patients whose cancer had spread. Unfortunately there were some serious side effects in the latest trials, including two deaths. So it would appear that while immunotherapy may be a promising line of research, it is still in its very early days of testing.
My ongoing research has certainly made me sit up and think about my own cancer journey and how things are constantly changing. With the number of people of all ages now being diagnosed with this insidious disease, it’s heartening to see so much information coming to light.
©2017 by Barry Eaton. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Rockpool Publishing.
The Joy of Living: Postponing the Afterlife
by Barry Eaton and Anne Morjanoff.
The Joy of Living gives us heart-warming, fascinating and deep insights on the hard road from diagnosis to treatment and eventual survival from throat cancer. Dealing with customary fears surrounding cancer, Barry’s story unfolds with insights from his partner Anne and son Matthew, as they support him through his emotional roller-coaster journey.
About the Authors
Barry Eaton is well known in his native Australia both as a mainstream journalist and broadcaster, and for his Internet radio show RadioOutThere.com. He is a qualified astrologer, medium, and psychic intuitive and the author of “Afterlife – Uncovering the Secrets of Life After Death” and “No Goodbyes – Life Changing Insights From the Other Side” . He gives regular talks and lectures, as well as one-on-one sessions as a psychic intuitive. For more information, visit Barry at http://radiooutthere.com/blog/the-joy-of-living/ and www.barryeaton.com
Anne Morjanoff had a 15-year career in Sydney’s central bank, beginning in communications and moving to the human resources department. Anne developed a passion for number symbolism, using it to re-assure many people of their life conditions and conducting workshops on the power of numbers in everyday life. She now works in the education arena in a casual administrative role.