I mentioned in Cancer Wars that I didn’t think cancer should be called a disease, and this leads on to the whole concept of diseases (and some pretty weird philosophy).
Our scientists and doctors are utterly obsessed with naming, measuring and quantifying things. This has worked well for Western societies in many ways as we have reaped the benefit of technological advances, skilled surgery, dedicated nursing and (very occasionally), drug treatment. However, the main benefit to us (in comparison to over-populated, resource-poor African, Asian and South American countries) is the steady improvement in nutrition, hygiene and environment.
Western medicine ignores holistic treatments
Our medical system does a great job of detecting and labelling faults and omissions in our complicated bodily system but, in so doing, ignores the concept of holistic medicine.
We are not just the sum of our parts (systems, organs, cells), but a complex accumulation of amino acids, proteins, and chemicals mixed in with myriads of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and mites, all working in harmony (usually).
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect life form and we are all born with weak points and strong points. The nature of life is to incorporate defects in DNA, the worst one being aging. In a lifetime, cells are constantly aging and being destroyed, to be replaced by new cells. This process slowly leads to faults in the DNA and a consequent deterioration of organs and systems, which is called “disease”.
Doctors then refer people with “diseases” to specialists who are very clever at one thing only – their speciality. They concentrate on the particular ailment, often having no idea about the patient’s background or history (or other problems they may have).
This is the standard pathway in our society, and while the scientific approach in cataloguing diseases is useful, without recognising that a holistic approach is vital, our system has serious short-comings.
Cancer is an imbalance, not a disease
Ancient cultures – and a few modern Asian ones – acknowledged that the body is in a state of balance (aided by strange feedback loops) and in constant equilibrium with the Universe . Disease, especially cancer, can be considered an imbalance induced by an individual’s genetics and environment. Many infections, whether bacterial, viral, fungal or protozoan, are an overgrowth of naturally occurring organisms in the body– organisms which are usually benign and in balance.
All the bodily systems must be in balance to stay healthy. Drugs can be useful sometimes to restore these balances but they are based on being potent enough to drastically change natural systems. Indeed, they are so potent that microscopic doses are recognised as poisons by the liver and kidneys and detoxified. Side-effects occur when the drugs act on ALL body cells, not just the favourite organ of your pet specialist. They also occur when livers and kidneys falter under a constant assault from environmental pollutants.
Cancer occurs when biological pathways go hay-wire. For their own very good reasons, some cells refuse to die on time (aging DNA becomes defective) and proliferate wildly with consequent harm to the host body. This is another classical imbalance—all life forms are prone to cancer which can thrive when immune systems are faulty.
A holistic approach is best
To sum up—I would put my faith and trust in the skills of surgeons but would have little faith in drug treatment. Instead, for every “disease”, I believe that a holistic approach should always be tried. If you are lucky enough to know a good holistic healer (there is a good one practising out of a cave in the Himalayas), well and good. If not, do your own holism. Try diets, vitamin and mineral supplements, herbs, pro-biotics, meditation, yoga or whatever appeals.
It is obvious, but extremes kill: Too much food, alcohol, gambling, allergens, poisons, pollution, carbon. So, go with the good things: Good food, good physical and mental stimulation, good air, good environment, and have less stress, less noise, less conflict and less shock jock radio hosts. In short, maximise the good stuff and minimise the crap.
All this probably means retreating from the world out there — a world that is rapidly degrading.
I suggest you find a nice cave, get comfortable and block the entrance with a suitable rock.