Husband will not cooperate with complimentary therapies

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My 63 year husband who has advanced colon cancer is now paralysed (found out 2 weeks ago) from his waist downwards and has a catheter and a stoma. The tumours have metatised up his spine. He is home now and we are putting a care package in place but in due to huge expense trying to do as much as possible myself and son. I am trying complimentary therapies to reduce tumours boost his immune system as oncology can do nothing for him but he won't cooperate with the medication saying that it's not doing anything. It is recommended by a Dr called Dana Flavin who is very well regarded and is a US physician and pharmacologist based in Germany. Juicing 3 times a day and medication quite a few pills and CBT oil. I'd take him to a centre but can't see he would be able to fly anywhere - I will do anything to help me but as you can imagine we are all in a state of dreadful shock and he is very depressed and says he wants to die and not be a burden. We are at the beginning of an unknown journey but would like to see some light at the end of the tunnel and if he would only let me try this regime with him we may see results. Has anyone any tips in trying to persuade a very stubborn and traumatised man to cooperate a bit for both of our sakes.
Dear Anne

I write with immense sympathy as I have been where you are now - watching my husband lose his battle against cancer.

BUT, what I am going to say will not 'comfort' you in the way that you are so desperately seeking. The one lesson I have learnt since being forced, out of the blue some years ago, into becoming a citizen of Cancerworld (on the terminal diagnosis of my husband) is that the one thing we CANNOT live without as humans, is 'hope'.

I would say that is something you are understanding now, and living by. You hope, with all your heart and soul, that 'somewhere out there' is 'the cure' that will keep your husband alive, that will defeat the body that has turned against itself, which is what makes cancer such a dread disease (and SO frustrating at heart - this is not a 'foreign invasion' of parasitic microbes, this I the body itself attacking itself by 'going wrong' inside).

I am not arguing against complementary therapies per se. Cancer, for all the intense research going on into it, remains a deeply mysterious disease - the oncologiests and cell biologists still have only imperfect understanding of why it starts, how it gets going, how it takes hold.....and what can keep its march at bay, or even reverse it. And, then, on top of that imperfect understanding, there is the even deeper frustration amongst patients that the time it takes for every new discovery to make it out of the lab, into the long, complex chain of medical trials (at least three sets) that has to take place, then it has to be approved by the international regulatory authorities on medicine, and then, finally, of course in the UK, it has to be proved (against HUGE financial odds!) to be 'value for money' and funded by the NHS.

It isn't surprising in the least that we who live in the extreme branch of Cancerworld - the terminal branch - would do anything and everything to 'find a way' to keep our beloveds alive.

I would say to you now, this -

IF the complementary treatments (I won't call them 'therapies' as their efficacy is, at the least, 'undecided')(and yes, I do appreciate that the 'official medics' are not necessarily 'right' - the history of medicine is littered with 'official medical views' that prove totally wrong in the end!) (think, back in the 1950s, just to take one example, how popular lobotomies were!!!!!)(horrendous!), to my mind, IF the complementary treatments meet two critieria - see below - then they may be worth considering:

These criteria are:

(1) They do no harm. ie, they do not run counter to anything that 'orthodox medicine' is providing (if it is), and are not exacerbating the patient's condition or quality of life

(2) They are not expensive (and sadly, we do have to allow that, even with 'goodwill' maybe in their intentions, many of the purveyors of complementary medicines do make money out of others' desperation.....)

So, given what you have found, perhaps what I would say is this - if administering the treatments at home is possible, and affordable, then in a way 'why not'? BUT, if it's a question of taking your husband somewhere, then I would say no. I think it would be 'unwise' would be extremely expensive, highly uncomfortable, and very disruptive. And the chances of 'success' in any sense that would count for him, are, at best 'indeterminable'.

I know that you are living on hope - I live on it too. I could NOT believe it was happening. I REFUSED to believe it was happening. I was DETERMINED to save my husband. He would be the one to beat the odds, to keep going, to not give in. He was so determined himself, so strong, so 'fit' despite the cancer, etc etc. I just could not believe it would get him.

However, in the time he went into end stage - and that is a very uncertain length of time (also see below) - I did change inside my head, and so did he, I believe. I think others realised it first - my mother in law, his brother, my family, even his son - I was probably the last to accept it. But in the end I did - I had to.

What I would say now is that there will come a point when 'quality of life' not 'quantity of life' will become the priority for all of you. Making the most of them, what they can do, what they can enjoy. Making, and I hate to say this, but I must - making memories that will keep you going in the years ahead.

You are your husband's strength - no doubt about that - and you are determined to keep him going against the whole might of the universe against you, and that is entirely to your credit. But keep this 'reasonable', and by that I mean that the amount of effort and desperation you put into 'keeping him going' has to be balanced by the 'enjoyment of now'.

Please do remember something I learnt as well, that - as the saying is on the many cancer forums (again, more below on that) - 'No doctor has your death certificate in their pocket' - in other words, no medics really know 'how long they've got'. Some patients do FAR better than expected, some far less. I was gold it could be months, weeks, or days - they just did not know.

I also was told, and I think this rings true for me, at least - that sometimes it can take 'just one more' assault, for the body, and perhaps the spirit too, to say 'Oh hell, I can't cope with this! I'm shutting down'. And it's a straw/camel's back thing, a tipping over the edge.

In the end, it is your husband's life, and your husband's choice. Respecting that - despite your rage against the disease that is doing this to him, despite your determination to save him - respecting that is, I believe, the last give of love that we can give them.

I don't know where else you are going on the Internet, but there are many forums, both in terms of forums specialising in your husband's cancer, and too, for those, like us, who have to witness this dreadful journey. The Macmaillan community is very good (I can give you web links if you want, but you may have them already) and I could also recommend a US one 'Cancer Compass' which I will post a link to.

I wish you now all the best that can be when 'best' is very thin on the ground.

What you are going through now is the hardest time you will ever have, both 'now' and the 'afterwards' that will come, but maybe not yet, not yet......

Kindest regards to you at such a time - Jenny
That is a desperately sad situation to be in. Jenny has been through it and posted a very compassionate response. I would like to be more blunt. I think complementary therapies are something that usually doesn't work but I fully understand someone wanting to use them by their own choice. But the person must want to themselves. (It may even have a healing effect just because of the patient's belief). Your husband is dying, it seems, and he knows it. I do not think you should be imposing treatments on him that he doesn't want. I am concerned to read that he 'doesn't want to be a burden'. Can he get help from Macmillan nurses or a hospice? Contacting a hospice doesn't mean immediate death, but people can visit him and help him. There are ways of helping people feel less desperate however dreadful the situation.
I apologize if this offends you but I think you are approaching this from the medical point of view, which is not everything in life.