A-Z

Testicular Cancer

Complementary approaches for testicular cancer

Men with testicular cancer are highly unlikely to use complementary treatments instead of medical care because orthodox medical care is so effective. One man said that men would be 'crazy' not to pursue mainstream medicine. However, several said that complementary approaches are sometimes useful for controlling the side effects of treatments. One man pointed out that if herbal medicines are taken it is important that the doctor is aware of this because herbs may interact with other medicines.

 

Arthur Frank explains that complementary treatments may be useful to help minimise the side...

Arthur Frank explains that complementary treatments may be useful to help minimise the side...

Age at interview: 55
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 40
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Did you ever pursue any complementary therapies?

Arthur Frank replies' I was all set to if orthodox medicine had ever failed to deliver what it said it was going to achieve at the time it was going to achieve it. I was certainly interested in other things. I think the real value, I mean testicular cancer treatment is just so successful in mainstream medicine that really I think someone would be crazy not to pursue mainstream treatment. Where I think complementary alternatives treatments can be very useful is controlling side effects and minimising the damage of chemotherapy, particularly nutritional treatments. But a lot of complementary alternative herbal treatments can have interactive effects with medical drugs and so it's important to find medical practitioners who are sympathetic to what you're trying to do and to be very clear about what other things you're taking, even herbals, because herbals are, to be effective they can't be that benign. So you've got to be clear on what the interaction effects are. I wish I had had greater possibility for things like massage therapy. Physiotherapy I think can really help during certain stages of chemotherapy. There are just a lot of adjunctive therapies and then as I say the big one is better nutritional counselling, that I had.

Others we interviewed also saw dietary or herbal remedies as supplements and not substitutes for medical treatment. One man, for example, tried dried apricot seeds, and thought that they had some effect on his lump, but 'pinned his hopes' on traditional medicine, and was confident that chemotherapy would cure him.

Acupuncture was tried by one man to control the indigestion that had been caused by the radiotherapy. He did not find acupuncture effective but he was glad of the dietary advice given to him by the Chinese practitioner.

 

Explains that he tried acupuncture for his indigestion but that he found the dietary advice was...

Explains that he tried acupuncture for his indigestion but that he found the dietary advice was...

Age at interview: 36
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 29
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Everything I ate gave me problems. I couldn't work out what to eat, what not to eat, and you know all the usual things that give you indigestion did, and everything that they say 'eat', you know gave me indigestion as well, so it was a bit of a nightmare that was. 

So have you tried any other complementary therapies?

I tried acupuncture. This was where I basically got, where the dietary thing started off, of looking at how I eat. Because my GP was giving me these tablets, he was very good. He was the one who actually suggested I go for acupuncture. You know he said "Give it a go, it might work."

And where do they, what do they do for the acupuncture?

Well they inserted needles at points all over the body. Personally I don't think it worked, not for me, whether it does or not I really don't know.

How many sessions did you have?

Oh crickey I had 4 or 5, something like that. Well at '36 a session it's expensive. I was in a position where I could afford to have that done but a lot of people aren't. But the, it was a Chinese doctor, a Chinese practitioner who did this. But what he told me was more important than what he did. He was talking about what to eat, and that was what set me off on the, looking at how I could improve the situation.
 

Some men found aromatherapy treatment very relaxing. One man said that during the aromatherapy treatments he also appreciated the opportunity to talk to someone 'neutral', a person outside his immediate circle of family and friends. A few men found reflexology helpful and relaxing too.

 

Explains that he found reflexology relaxing and enjoyable.

Explains that he found reflexology relaxing and enjoyable.

Age at interview: 50
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 44
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I mean I suppose (laughs) I was very sceptical and you know just sort of didn't really think that you know you could from manipulating your feet and massaging your feet actually believe that you know people could actually feel where you were feeling, experiencing pain and where there was a problem. But it does, it did actually seem very plausible. And you know she used to feel my foot and say "Oh you've got a pain in your back," for instance and you know most of the time I had got this, a pain in my back or I'd got a headache or such. You know and it was really very good. I found it very relaxing and more often than not I used to fall asleep and she'd wake me up and say you know "We've finished now," sort of thing.

So did the massage to the feet actually affect the pain that you were getting in the back or the head do you think?

I don't know whether it actually, I think it's more a sort of, it makes you feel better. I suppose it does really help you but I don't know whether that's because you just believe it helps you or whether it actually does. I suppose either way if it helps you then you know you're going to take this, you're going to take the, whatever you can get and if it helps then all well and good. And in my case I think it did, it did help and I did enjoy it and it used to relax me when I used to go for these, the reflexology and it was quite you know quite an experience, and quite enjoyable.

 

Recalls that he found aromatherapy relaxing.

Text only
Read below

Recalls that he found aromatherapy relaxing.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 22
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I had aromatherapy massage. I had three sessions of that. And part of that again is just you get to sit and talk to someone. All this stuff happens to you, and every so often you just want to like splurge and just talk to someone about what's been happening. And it's difficult to find someone neutral and someone you're not involved with at all. So you can like say so much to friends and family but every so often you just kind of need someone you don't know in the slightest. And so the therapist we just chatted and chatted for ages and that was like kind of outside of the aromatherapy itself, it was just really nice to have someone to talk to. And she sits you down, chats to you for a while and you go onto the table and she works up a mix that's, of aromatherapy oils that she think would be relaxing for you and will complement whatever is going on inside you. And then she gives you a really nice massage for half an hour. So I mean the way those therapies are presented they don't pretend for a second they can actually be involved in the treatment of the cancer but probably more importantly it just makes you feel really, really nice. Which is what you need when you've got no hair and you feel rubbish and you can't go to the loo and you haven't eaten.

One man said that psychologically it was important for him to feel he was actively doing something himself to prepare his body for the treatment that was coming. He changed his life style, drank less alcohol, changed his diet to include organic food, and took vitamin supplements.

 

Explains that it was important for him to take control and change his life-style.

Explains that it was important for him to take control and change his life-style.

Age at interview: 33
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 32
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
It was also very important I think psychologically for me to look you know at my life style, look at my diet, I'm a single man with a good social life you know, I probably drink more than I possibly should for pure health reasons. So I mean I cut back on that, I cut back on my alcohol consumption. I, I started eating organic food, not with any great, the vague sort of you know idea that it was probably better for you, and there are all sorts of studies that I don't know anything about the validity of in terms of eating an organic diet, or at least eating as healthily as possible you know can be good for you and specifically if you're dealing with a disease like cancer. So it was important for me to take control as much as I could of those elements of my life, the ones I could control, you know my fitness, my diet, I even started taking some vitamin supplements and some sort of zinc supplements. And you know I'm not saying that that's something that's medically proven in any way, but its important for me psychologically to feel that I was actively doing something myself to make myself you know if not better, then at least as best prepared as I possibly could be for, for the treatment that was coming.

Hypnotherapy helped one man to forget his fears about cancer. One of the symptoms that he had had before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer was profuse sweating (see 'Signs and symptoms'). Having been cured he still felt anxious and depressed, particularly if he was in a hot room, remembering the dreadful sweating he had suffered before his condition was diagnosed. The hypnotherapy proved successful, making him feel more relaxed and positive about life.

 

Explains that hypnotherapy helps him to relax and think more positively.

Explains that hypnotherapy helps him to relax and think more positively.

Age at interview: 35
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 30
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Do you mind explaining what hypnotherapy is like?

Yeah, well I started off by describing things that had, sat down with the lady and described the things that had gone on over the past you know 4 years, not only the cancer but other events that had happened you know deaths and you know divorces etc. etc. And I told her one of the main things that bothers me, that I've become anxious about is the, is the sweating issue and it bringing back all the memories. And the sort of thing that we do is we sit down and for probably three quarters of an hour she talks me into a relaxed state where I'm still in control of everything that I do but it's in effect getting through to your subconscious and relaxing you and teaching you things to do if you're becoming stressed. Then we talk through various images, relaxing images, laid by the beach etc and remembering to do this sort of thing and think about these things if you start to feel as though you're becoming a bit anxious and you find that you know it does relax you.

So if you start to sweat and you start to remember how you first found that you had cancer then you start, then you start to think of nice things, other images?

Yeah I just try and take a few deep breaths and relax a little bit and think of different things, things that you know make me feel happy as opposed to the things that remind me of what had happened previously.

And that's beginning to help is it?

Yeah it is yeah.

Last reviewed December 2017.

donate
Previous Page
Next Page