It’s always interesting when a clinician or researcher sees their area of expertise through a different lens. How powerful are the stories of the doctor who becomes the patient?
Last year two close friends were diagnosed with cancer. I saw our health care system through their eyes and their lived experiences. Luckily most of it was positive and we are fortunate in Australia to have a world standard (?or above?) health care system. Despite this, my friends had periods of struggle and sought out additional areas of support.
When you receive the traumatic shock of a cancer diagnosis you are often motivated to do all you can. You go on the web, friends tell you about the latest article or product claiming to cure cancer (ever notice how these products claim to cure EVERYTHING - from impotence to baldness and gut problems too!!). That’s where the rabbit hole begins.
I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have been impacted by cancer. Many speak about the shell shock that is the diagnosis. Then the whirlwind of treatment where the focus is often just to get through. Most agreed that the doctors and nurses were amazing. Some said that while they valued the doctor’s expertise they wanted to be spoken to as a person not a diagnosis (a good reminder for all of us clinicians!!). One spoke of her experience as being labelled metastatic, “I just feel as if they a waiting for me to die and there’s nothing else they can do. I’m not a high priority for them anymore.”
Another common topic was the conflicting information that people with cancer may receive from different health professionals. This is particularly common in my area of expertise, nutrition. Our international survey that was presented at the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) conference also found that patients find it confusing and frustrating when they receive conflicting recommendations from health care professionals. Health care professionals also wanted guidelines and common resources as a basis of their advice.
The experiences of my friends last year, combined with my discovery of the effectiveness of coaching (topic of another blog) have led me to go part-time in my university professor position to offer online support to people impacted by cancer. I hope to plug the gaps in the existing (hopefully excellent medical care) and provide additional support where required. This appears to be around diagnosis and after treatment finishes where people are looking to get their body and their life back together again. I’m mainly providing online support as people mention they don’t want to attend another appointment and I believe this the way of the future. As well as my area of expertise (nutrition), I include coaching in the areas of mindset and movement as I believe these 3 areas provide a powerful matrix for supportive care in people living with cancer.
My passion is to support, understand and find out as much as we can about the best supportive practices for people impacted by cancer. I hope that people with cancer have the best treatment outcomes and can be emotionally confident to enjoy life. My hate is selling false hope. I’m all for being open minded, combining modalities for the best treatment outcomes and working with the individual to achieve their goals. However, I don’t like people making money from selling products claiming to cure cancer (especially when they have no medical or scientific background themselves).
If you or a loved one is impacted by cancer please join my free Facebook support group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2322148281336186/ I also offer one on one wellness coaching and an online program called The Emotional Confidence Cancer Coaching program. I couldn’t provide as much support as I would have liked to my friends last year but with the wellness coaching work I now can. I appreciate your support in spreading the message to those who may benefit from this. I hope my legacy will demonstrate my commitment to striving for the best supportive care for our loved ones with cancer. If you have the passion and an idea that can improve things you owe it to yourself and those who may benefit to give it a go no matter how crazy, hard or risky!
For more information visit www.lincnutrition.com.au
Liz can be contacted on ProfLiz@lincnutrition.com.au