He is almost 50 and has plunged into a severe paranoia that chemo will kill him/turn him into a vegetable and he thinks that the medical research community is talking bogus and all their clinical studies are hoaxes. He refuses to listen to the family or doctor and doesn't even want to compare the pros and cons of traditional medicine vs alternative. What can be done?

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I can think of two very well known people in the public eye, who had the means to do so, who tried every "cure" that came down the pike. They are Michael Landon and Farrah Fawcett. I think that if he chooses to seek alternative treatments, and can afford to do so (most insurance companies won't cover), then it should be his right. The chemo and radiation therapies were once in their infancy and were not considered to be the "given".

I know this is very difficult for you, as his family member. We all hate to lose a parent, even an inlaw. Prayers to you and the rest of his family.

p.s. Colonoscopies are important and only slightly inconvenient (the preparation). Colon cancer is very slow growing and can usually be found in time to treat.
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FF, your hospital is way ahead of ours in this area; the majority of them are still focused on traditional western medicine. But in all fairness to them, that's the standard in medical school. That's what doctors are taught. Attorneys often see problems in legal terms before any other alternative, and sometimes the problems aren't always legal ones.

Henry Ford Hospital in our area has for several years been integrating alternative therapies. Years ago it featured an open house with information and demonstrations on acupuncture and other techniques, which I've long forgotten.

Another hospital has added complimentary therapy at its infusion center and has recognized that patients receiving chemo need something to provide balance, calm and emotional relief and support. It once featured an art exhibit with contributions from chemo participants. The drama and emotion in the paintings and other forms of art was literally overpowering - so much emotion had been channeled into their art.

Mindfulness/mind-body connection to pain is another area that hospital has supported for several years.

It's great to learn about your co-worker's success - good for her for choosing her own path! But your friend's husband...well, remember the fellow who for one month lived on fast food and developed multiple health issues? Some of that stuff is just toxic.

Thanks for sharing your insight and the story of two people's different situations.
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GardenArtist, I am starting to think about alternative therapies.... we have a doctor at our Urgent Care who is U.S. Board Certified Holistic, and knowledgeable about Chinese medicine. Some day I would like to talk to him.

A co-worker of mine refused all cancer treatment at stage 4, she instead took a Macrobiotic diet approach of brown rice, beans, sea vegetables, and Asian yin-yang philosophy of finding balance in life for health and vitality.... and her cancer has held off for over 25 years. She looks fantastic, one would never know she was in her mid 80's, still working part-time as a Receptionist [because she wants to, not because she has to]. I tried said diet, but since I am not a cook, the diet became cumbersome for me.

What might work for one person, might not work for another. My friend's husband also had cancer and he was doing great on the diet, but the cancer came back, found out he was sneaking fast food hamburgers into this diet at lunch time.
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I see I'm pretty much in the minority in supporting consideration for alternative therapies; that's okay; I've gained perspective from reading suggestions and thoughts by other well respected posters.

Thinking about how many of my family have fought but lost their battles with cancer, I recall that all were treated with traditional western methods. Of 13 who had cancer, of which only 3 had little if any treatment because of advanced stage diagnosis, only 5 are still alive; their cancers were more minor. That's only a 38% survival rate of the total, and 50% survival rate excluding the 3 who were diagnosed at terminal stags.

One is still battling cancer and is suffering from the miserable and painful scorch and burn treatments, as did my sister.
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Nothing can be done. My dad couldn't have surgery and refused Chemo and radiation until it was too late. but that was his decision and he paid the ultimate price. In his case it was just another bad decision to go along with the bad decisions he made his whole life ( he died penny less with no insurance ).. Sometimes I feel like he just committed suicide and it was hard to watch. a Year and a half later I am still stuck in Anger mode because I was the one who was left with paying the price for his bad decisions. Still am to this day. my whole family is destroyed.
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I can understand and sympathize with his reaction although I think it would be better if he would consider both methods. Still, the "slash, burn and poison" techniques of western medicine not only have their limitations but can inflict horrible suffering on someone.

1. I think the first issue is the stage of his cancer, and the likelihood of a cure regardless of the method. What course of action is his oncologist recommending?

2. I wouldn't try too hard to influence him against alternative medicine but rather help him make his OWN decision to investigate BOTH methods.

It is his life and his body that will have to endure the horrors of chemo and radiation, if that's what's recommended.

3. What are the alternatives of no treatment, short and long term?

4. Has he identified specific alternative protocols and treatments, or is he primarily focused on the concept?

5. Support his concern, find as much research on alternative therapies as you can.

6. He's probably terrified (who wouldn't be?) and needs support, not family working against him. Give him that, earn his trust and confidence, and gradually you might be able to discuss the pros and cons of both methods.

7. In the meantime, see if there's a Gilda's Club in your area. The one in my area has a downloadable newsletter. There are a multitude of events and topics and at one point there were meetings for people dealing with specific types of cancer. Go with him to any colon cancer meetings or ones on alternative therapies.

8. Check out CURE; it's an excellent cancer publication with both online articles and a quarterly print magazine. curetoday/.

And here are links to articles on alternative therapies:

9. There is a certain dysjunction between all the racing for cures, fundraising and publicity vis a vis the continued inclusion by food and cosmetic manufacturers of carcinogens. Organizations and people are hoping for cures; manufacturers are still using carcinogens in consumer products.

This is just my personal opinion, but I've felt that the agricultural and food lobbies are so strong that carcinogens will never be voluntarily omitted from consumable and usable products for the general public.

Look at Round-Up for instance. Glysophate has been connected to birth defects in babies born to women in specific areas of use, and has been the subject of numerous studies with conclusions that it can cause cancer. Yet who could battle Monsanto?

sciencedirect/science/article/pii/S0278691513003633 is one scientific article on this issue.

So, is alternative medicine better than Western medicine? Is there really any way to tell if someone who opts for one method might or might not have been cured if using the opposite method?

Back to the post: I would rally the family to give FIL as much support as you can, which he'll need anyway. But now is not a time to challenge his decision, whether it's right or wrong. It is HIS life.
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Sometimes I feel like what we call alternative medicine is a form of denial. Surgery and chemo are scary thoughts, so we can choose to treat ourselves with something that is not so scary. It rarely works. The main problem is that Franklin's saying "A stitch in time saves nine" comes true. Valuable time can be wasted if something is treatable.

That said, we can't make a competent person do anything that is against his wishes when it comes to his own health. What we can do is show the facts and try to make it where it is not so scary.
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Is he rejecting both surgery AND chemo? Perhaps he needs a two step treatment; let's not talk about the chemo until the surgery is done. Will he go for a second opinion?

But in the end, unless he's found incompetent, it's his decision to make. Make sure that hospice is contacted and that he is evaluated if he's refusing surgery. I'm not sure how Hospice organizations feel about doing their work along side supposedly curative measures that have no proven effectiveness.

Has he read Walter Isaacson's' s biography of Steve Jobs? It might be a wakeup call ?
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I cried when I got my first chemo treatment. It went against every fiber of my being to let doctors inject that poison into my body. I did it only because I DID believe the studies.

While I understand personally why he would reject chemo, the surgery aspect is a given. Cancer must be removed if it is operable.

There is a big difference between refusing surgery and refusing chemo. Refusing surgery is tantamount to suicide. Have his doctor clearly explain the surgery to him. If he refuses it, after he's heard the hard facts and an emotional appeal from his family that they don't want to lose him, then you simply MUST support him.

This isn't your family's disease. It's his.
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Alternative medicine is a hot potato issue. It is his right to refuse traditional medicine.

The best you can do is offer and persuade him to take him to legal counsel to get a will, directives, Poa's and get other affairs in order.
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