I received an email – a round robin, actually – from my ex-friend Wayne Jonas and was amazed to read the following passage:

My new book, “Healing and Cancer,” co-written with Alyssa McManamon, MD, is now available! Whole person care in oncology centers the person with cancer – their history, intuition, and understanding of what constitutes a good life and, eventually, a dignified end …

For those who don’t know him, here is what Wiki has to say about Wayne:

Wayne B. Jonas is an American family physician, retired army medical officer,[1] and alternative medicine researcher. He is the former president and CEO of the Samueli Institute.[2][3] The institute does research into the efficacy of alternative medicine, such as on the effects of prayer on treating disease, use of homeopathy to fight bioterrorism, and use of magnetic healing devices on orthopedic injuries, with Jonas commenting on these research programs, “There is a good case for looking at these things scientifically, because we don’t know a lot about them”.[3] He is professor of family medicine at Georgetown University and an adjunct professor at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.[2]

Jonas received his medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.[2]

Jonas began his career as the Director of the Medical Research Fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.[2] From 1995 to 1998, Jonas was the director of the Office of Alternative Medicine (since renamed the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health), a branch of the National Institutes of Health.[2] In 2001, the Samueli Institute was founded. Jonas has served as its president and CEO ever since.[3].

Some of my regular readers might also know Wayne, as he is a member of my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME. But back to his recent email. I was not sure whether to laugh or cry when I read the above-cited passage:

  1. I honestly don’t know what it means ‘to center the person with cancer’. It sounds very much like new age BS to me, I’m afraid. What I do know, however, is this: almost all cancer patients have formost one wish, and that is to get rid of their cancer. I have never met one who wants to be “centered” with the disease.
  2. I am also sure that cancer patients would want even less to be centered with their cancer, if they knew that this approach eventually entails a ‘dignified end‘. All of us want to live – and cancer patients are certainly no exceptions.

Perhaps it is just Wayne’s clumsy way of trying to express something very profound. Or perhaps it is my mistake for misunderstanding his new age phraseology. In any case, ‘whole person’ cancer care sounds all very attractive – untill you get the diagnosis, that is. Then, you are desperately looking towards a cure, and not towards a ‘dignified end‘. The cure, of that I am quite sure, cannot come from holistic BS, but must come from the best treatments conventional oncology has to offer.

In a nutshell:

if I had the choice between ‘whole person’ care followed by a ‘dignified end’ or conventional oncology followed by survival, I would chose the latter.


4 Responses to A ‘dignified end’ with ‘whole person’ cancer care?

  • Odd this. If he made the same claims in the UK he would be struck off the GMC.

  • I don’t really see any problem with “dignified end” once the situation is determined to be terminal. Some of those dear to me chose to be at home with loved ones rather than in a hospital with tubes, noise and only seeing loved ones when they can make it to the hospital. Perhaps it is simply how one interprets the phrase.

    I can see where it might be irritating in the context of the rest of the nonsense.

    • that’s why I wrote: “Perhaps it is just Wayne’s clumsy way of trying to express something very profound.”
      But I still think that the primary aim of good oncological care must be to cure the cancer. And I also think that even new age wafflers should aknowlege it.

    • @Mimi
      The problem is not the ‘dignified end’ in terminal cases, but what happens before that – this ‘whole person care’.

      Regular palliative medicine already DOES provide ‘whole person care’ with the patient’s comfort and well-being at the centre. And yes, this can entail more than just upping the painkillers until the patient croaks.

      I’m not sure what exactly this ‘whole person care’ is in SCAM circles, but judging by how these people often claim to treat cancer, I’m afraid that it involves unproven and often useless treatments that do NOT provide extra comfort, while at the same time failing to administer treatments that can really take away pain and discomfort.

      Many SCAM ‘treatments’ for cancer result in an end that is anything but dignified, with patients clinging to false hope sold to them (for heaps of cash, at that) by cancer quacks, trying one utterly useless ‘treatment’ after another. These people often only end up seeking real professional care when their body almost literally disintegrates due to a lack of competent medical care.

      Research also supports this notion: cancer patients die sooner en suffer more when relying on alternative treatments rather than regular care.

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