Cancer and our Microbiome

People who are diagnosed with cancer have a relatively delicate immune balance. We are not truly sure about the factors involved in the immunological cascade.

People take lots of medicines, supplements and more to enhance their immune system. This has become a multi-billion dollar business. Unfortunately, most of these have low or no benefit.

One of the exciting and intriguing things which is emerging is the role of the gut in the immune system. What we eat and what our guts produce are becoming increasingly important from an immune perspective.

Probiotics are a bad idea for patients on immunotherapy. The logic being that immune systems are created on the normal gut flora – which is amazingly diverse. Taking probiotics spoils the equilibrium in the gut. Not a good idea.

Antibiotics have the similar problem. They kill the normal gut bugs and change the dynamics of the intestinal flora. Do not take antibiotics for things like viral infections or suspected infections.

It is so humbling to know that everytime we think we have found a new and wonderful door of understanding…. it just opens another maze to tackle.

Lung Cancer in non-smokers

Lung cancer is predominantly an illness seen in smokers or former smokers. There is an increasing number of patients with lung cancer, who have never smoked. Ever.

The huge stigma of lung cancer remains in this present day and age. People still say in hushed accusatory tones… “he was a smoker”, “she really should have stopped smoking”, etc.

The main issue being that we cannot change the past, but can fix the present and modify the future. Stop smoking. Believe in yourself. Focus on treatment. Get on with life.

Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

 

Cancer Care in Australia

Cancer care in Australia is just fantastic. Truly is.

The USA has cutting edge technology and a plethora of Phase 1 clinical trials and research work, but for the average person who needs treatment, Australia is still miles ahead. It is not just the issue of the medications available, surgery options, radiotherapy…. but the social and financial issues.

The South Australian Govt helps patients who drive more than 100 km per journey with financial assistance for their fuel and accomodation.

Most chemotherapy, biological and immunotherapy medications are available in Australia – via tax-payer Medicare subsidy or access programs.

The problem is that many people do not appreciate the medical care in Australia. The care from doctors, nurses, reception staff, pharmacists, cleaners, medical records and the rest of the team in the health care sector – is mostly really good. We tend to highlight the few bad stories (hopefully the incidents will be prevented in the future), but may not emphasise the good work which people do.

I have patients who are on treatment in Adelaide and decide to go on a holiday across the country. We arrange for treatment to happen across cancer centres in various parts in Australia. It happens somehow. Pretty amazing.

God bless Australia.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Donation

I remember watching a TV show about “The Royal Flying Doctors” and used to wonder about the amazing service they provided to people in remote areas in Australia. I wondered why people liked living so far away from cities and crowds. As time gets by, as maturity helps… I learn to appreciate the distance from things. More importantly, people live on farms and cattle stations. They provide the food we eat daily. We need to learn to thank them.

If and when the farmers get unwell, we must support them. The Royal Flying Doctor service is an institution in itself and have grown to help thousands of people in their dire times.

Geoffrey Carrick owned a cattle station in the far-north Queensland outback. HisĀ 138-square kilometre property was sold for $9.85 million and the money was donated to the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Thank you Sir and your family.

The full article from the ABC – Royal Flying Doctors – Donation

Working, Overtime and Medicine

How do most doctors deal with working overtime? I am really not sure. Most of us… just work. I am learning that I need to protect myself and stick to time schedules.

Many of us, from the time of internship or residency are only taught to work and work harder. Not just work smarter, but harder. Many of us don’t really know any other way.

Work never gets over. Ever.

We need to do as much as possible and get out of the workplace to come back the next day to do the remaining.

I am slowly learning that it is vital to take time for yourself and your family/friends. Absolutely vital.

At the end of the day, the only thing that really matter is you and your family. The time spent with your wife/husband or children or people who really matter.

Hard lesson. Unfortunately, most of us learn it too late in our careers.

Protect yourself. Enjoy life.

Cancer, Sex and Intimacy

Poignant article from the ABC on this serious, yet not discussed about topic.

This is something which affects several people, yet not much information is available about this. Most people will not talk about it, as it is not the main issue. The problem is that this adds up to the rest of the stressors of life. Several relationships break down due to problems during or after cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Worth discussing this in more detail with your cancer specialists.

Cancer, Sex and Intimacy