Cervical Cancer

Complementary approaches

 
Complementary approaches to dealing with cancer have not been subject to the same kind of rigorous testing as conventional medicine so their effects are not measured or proven in the same way. Some people use complementary approaches, such as Reiki, meditation or homeopathic remedies, in addition to conventional medicine during an illness, or to promote their psychological well being and to help relieve side effects from treatments. Complementary approaches can be quite expensive and many are not usually available on the NHS.

Some of the women we interviewed had used complementary approaches after their treatment to help them in their recovery. A few said that had they known about their benefits they would have used them as a complement to their medical treatment. Others said they doubted the effectiveness of complementary approaches and preferred to only use conventional medicine.

Two of the women interviewed had used homeopathic medicine to help their body recover from the after effects of their radiotherapy treatment. One of these women had been sceptical of the benefits of complementary approaches but had since found them extremely helpful in aiding her recovery from her radio-radio-chemotherapy treatment. She advised that others use a personal recommendation when choosing a homeopathic doctor. A third woman had used plant based HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for the menopause which she had found beneficial.

One of the benefits of using complementary approaches is the opportunity it gives to patients to have extra time during a consultation to talk about their concerns. One woman describes how using an acupuncturist had been both beneficial in reducing her post-operative pain and had helped her emotionally.

A few women had tried Reiki (a form of spiritual healing) and believed it had a positive effect. Others had experienced forms of spiritual healing. One woman tried this once but felt she had had no immediate benefits. Another woman commented that although she was sceptical about its contribution to her physical recovery, spiritual healing had helped her to think positively when she was diagnosed with advanced cancer. A few other women had tried Reiki (a form of spiritual healing) and believed it had a positive effect. A woman who had an interest in Buddhism had found spiritual support a considerable help in enabling her to understand and give meaning to her diagnosis of cancer.

Some of the women interviewed had used aromotherapy, relaxation aids or they had started meditation. Two women had found yoga helpful in coping with stress before and during treatment and one with postoperative pain.

A few women had used visualisation techniques during their treatment. One woman mentioned that during her radiotherapy treatment she imagined she was a soldier on horseback in a battlefield with a bow and arrow fighting the cancer cells.

Another woman explains the changes she had made to her diet. Others said they continued to eat as healthily as they had done before but increased their intake of healthy food in their diet. Two women said they ate less healthily for a while after treatment because they felt that life was short and they wanted to treat themselves.

Last reviewed April 2014.

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