04 February, 2013

Hope, Love and Care can cure cancer

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Cancer is a small word that develops a big shock in the mind of the patient. The shock then becomes obvious in patient’s fearful eyes and desperate behaviour, which turns into a nightmare for the whole family. Later the pressure to start a medical treatment that involves surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, is itself frightening enough. However, it has been witnessed that timely cure, proper care and family affection can make the impossible, possible. 
“Love may be the missing factor in the treatment of many diseases. With cancer, for instance, psychological therapy has been shown to have a far greater success rate than any other properly evaluated therapy according to Walter Last, the well-known natural therapist.
“Six years ago when I decided to come back to Pakistan for cancer treatment, my friends questioned my choice, but I took a straight flight back home from Germany because I missed the family love and affection when I needed it most”, Anwar Khan, 45, a long-time resident of Frankfurt, (Germany) explained. Lipoma - a common tumour of mature fat cells - had seriously worried Mr. Khan since few months. His cancer journey, starting with finding a lump, as is the case with most patients, to the visit to doctor who diagnosed cancer, was no easy battle. But with full attention and support of his family, the journey was made less painful. 
Fear was replaced by hope to fight the disease, as Khan kept himself engaged in activities such as playing board games with his brother’s kids. Though Ahmed’s journey is not over but he found solace in the company of loved ones and is surviving with notable progress. 

Experts believe that care alongside cure is a basic requirement for proper cancer treatment. In a country like Pakistan, where provisions of basic necessities are still a dream for a large population, the increasing number of cancer cases should be a grave concern. However, the family affection and proper attention has proved to be the best healer among cancer patients. 

Sharing statistics, Dr. Muhammad Ali Afridi, consultant oncologist of Shifa Hospital, Islamabad, said that though the exact numbers of cancer cases were not available since there was no national cancer registry, but it was estimated that “over 150,000 new cancer cases are reported annually in the country.” Out of the upsetting numbers, at least 90,000 new cases of breast cancer, while 7,000 fresh cases of childhood cancer are reported every year, according to separate reports. In Pakistan, Dr. Afridi informed, head and neck cancer and lymphoma are the common types of cancer among males whereas in the case of females, breast, and ovary were the common cancers.

Experts say that there are an estimated 30,000 new cases of head and neck tumours annually in Pakistan. With limited resources around 30 percent Pakistanis manage to beat cancer threats and recover after recognising warning signs of cancer and taking prompt action. However, “increased awareness of possible warning signs of cancer, among physicians, care providers as well as among the general public is highly needed to combat disease” advocated Dr. Afridi. 

What makes the situation more pathetic is that 70% of the cancers in developing countries, as opposed to only 20% in the developed countries, are already in stages 3 and 4 at the time of diagnosis, a WHO report indicated. This is evident by the fact that out of 80 cancer patients per day who approach Pakistan’s most promising cancer centre, Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore, “only 12-15 cases are taken up by the doctors with the hope of cure and recovery”, an official told Pakistan Observer. According to the Annual Report of 2010, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital recorded over 9,000 new patient registrations and more than 130,000 outpatient visits, almost three times the number of patients recorded in 2000.