Look Good Feel Better – for cancer patients

Look Good Feel Better – http://www.lgfb.org.au

For patients with cancer who feel dreadful about their appearance, this workshop is great. I personally think that it is not so much for the make-up and cosmetics that help them…. as much as the fellowship of knowing that there are so many other people in the same boat as them.

Massive boost to their esteem and confidence.

This is an initiative of the Australian cosmetic industry for cancer patients in Australia.

A definite suggestion to patients.

from http://www.lgfb.org.au

Alternative Medicine in Curable Cancer

One of the most frustrating things in the clinic is meeting with patients and their families who refuse standard proven treatment in favour of options which may not have any logical or scientific basis.

It gets worse when the cancer is completely curable with standard treatment.

Most of us can reason with patients to an extent, after which it is their call. Their life. Their responsibility.

Or is it?

Do we as a medical community need to increase awareness about wrong information being dissipated amongst patients and their families? Or do we already have enough work than to spend time on this. This is a relatively small proportion of patients who are so extreme. Should we just leave them to their thoughts and ideas?

Recently I met a lady who had a breast mass but refused all treatment including a biopsy. After lots of chatting, she told me that her spiritual leader had not given her permission for treatment. We negotiated and ultimately she agreed that God has given us common sense. Prayer is vital for everything. We also need to use our brains for decisions. She agreed for treatment in the end.

“Dr Web-browser” seems to have the answers. Depends on what we are looking for.

How to say No More Cancer Treatment?

One of the hardest things for me as a doctor to to tell the patient and family that there is no more active treatment available. The simplest thing is usually to keep giving some treatment or the other. The harder thing is to say NO.

For most patients and their families – ongoing treatment means ongoing hope (however small it may be). When we say no, we are dashing that hope.

There are ways to dilly dally with words and talk about best supportive care and symptom management and stuff like that.

Hard decisions. Hard implementation.

Social Media and Doctors

Where do we stand as far as social media is concerned? How many doctors/nurses have accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, etc, etc etc? More importantly how many doctors/nurses have been contacted by patients, their friends or relatives to become “friends”.

Where does the line of professionalism and personal info blur? I think this is dangerous. Be very careful.

Most hospitals in Australia would not want staff to have social media accounts giving or discussing information about patients or about the hospital activity.

Social media is a great source of engagement and information with friends and family. Stick with that 🙂

Learning Cancer Research and Protocol Development

Research seems simple to do. We read about it daily… someone has found something somewhere, etc etc etc. Learning to do a proper research in a scientific manner is a completely different ball game.

One of the best learning experiences I had was at the ACORD workshop – Australia and Asia Pacific Clinical Oncology Research Development Workshop. This is held every two years in Queensland, Australia for seven days.

Each of the applicants submit a concept which is evaluated by a panel and 70 participants are selected. The workshop teaches us to take the concept and develop it into a proper protocol, complete with statistics and everything needed to launch a study.

Absolutely phenomenal. The 2014 workshop’s last date to apply is over, but worth looking out for the future.


Asia Pacific Cancer Mentoring and Fellowship Program in Australia

COSA – Clinical Oncological Society of Australia is now open for applications for a fellowship to support a 12 week teaching program at an Australian Cancer Centre. This is for cancer personnel who are from a developing nation in the Asia Pacific region.

Definitely worth the effort. All the best.

Social History and Cancer Patients

In the setting of incurable cancer… over time most of us learn about the more important things versus the not-so-important things. Hugs from grandchildren are more important than the risk of infections…. an overseas holiday is more important than completing that last infusion of chemotherapy.

It is so important to take a proper social history – who is at home with the patient, spouse (lives along or not), who supports the patient. Do children support their parents – or just weekend hellos?

We learn over time that we as humans take social issues to be vital.

Praying with patients

How many doctors or nurses pray with their patients? Not many, but there are some who do so. Most doctors either do not care, are you convinced or are worried about the system. I need to start praying with my patients and their families. There are so many reports of the peace and the calm which is brought in.

Found a great book called ” Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer… One Patient at a Time” by David Levy and Joel Kilpatrick. Worth a read.


If I do not pray with the patient and their families, at least I should at least pray for them.

Generic versus Innovator Medicines

There are so many generic molecules available worldwide, yet we in Australia do not realize the extent of the same. In the past few months, the generic molecules are being pushed more by chemists (yet might charge patients/medicare for the innovator molecule).

Is there a true difference in the salt or preparation? I am really not sure. Would I use a generic for myself… probably not, would prefer the original molecule. My impression is that the big pharma guys who made the molecule, also invest heavily in removing impurities. This is hardly ever mentioned in the data presented. Everyone talks about the amount of the active pharmacological moiety, which needs to be at a concentration of at least 90%.

The biggest problem is the cost. Even after the big pharma have made their zillions on a molecule, yet flog the cost to a point that generics take over.

What do you think? I think it is a personal decision for people.

Social Issues and Cancer

The spectrum of social issues explodes in some patients and their families.

As you get to know the patient better and the family trust you, details come out. Who is truly supportive, who is the true carer, who matters in the time of trouble, etc etc. Sad. Very sad most times. There are others, whom you would love to be a part of your family. They leave everything and are there for their parents or family or friends. Fantastic.

A social worker’s job is quite phenomenal as they must be taking in all this stuff day-in-and-day-out. Wonder how they cope with this. Really. How do they cope with all this?

Family matters. Stick close.