Yes to Life

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CANCERactive was founded when Chris Woollams daughter, Catherine, developed a terminal grade 4 brain tumour. The Medical Journal, the Lancet, said that the Drugs didnt cure, so Chris and Catherine had to find alternatives. Their search convinced them that there is so much information out there expert research and clinical trials but it is simply not being passed on; to Doctors, or patients. And that means that people arent so much dying from cancer they are dying from ignorance. And that is terrible. So CANCERactive was born to offer a reliable, trustworthy information source of ALL the information from possible causes to Complementary and Alternative Therapies, not just Orthodox ones. We provide icon magazine and a 2000 page web site we even have 3 Catherine corners with plans for 20 around Britain. So that people can build comprehensive Integrated Programmes (we even have developed the Active8 Programme as a guide) to increase their personal odds of survival.

In parallel to CANCERactive, came another almost identical story. This one led to a mission to provide access to the sorts of therapies covered on CANCERactives web site. Yes to Life! is our kindred spirit, and so we are happy to draw it to your attention. Here founder Robin Daly tells his story.

BryonyYes to Life was born from urgent need. My precious daughter Bryony was dealt the terrible blow of a third diagnosis of cancer at age 23, and the only hopes of a way forward lay in the realms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

Experience taught me then what enormous hurdles there are to overcome both in terms of finding authentic, appropriate and available treatments, and in paying for them. Cancer is one of the most complex conditions and is fraught with contradictions and disagreements in even the most fundamental areas, such as causes and mechanisms. In order to make intelligent decisions, one has to become an expert, and in this field that is a tall order.

And then, even when you find treatments that may help you with your particular cancer at your particular stage, as well as a practitioner who offers them in a location you are able to reach, there is still the matter of paying for what is almost uniformly private medicine.

So essentially people need help - they need help in accessing the most promising avenues. And so we set up Yes to Life, a charity offering direct support to people with cancer in obtaining CAM. Like CANCERactive, the charity behind icon magazine, we want people to be able to choose what they feel is best for them from the worlds of both orthodox medicine and CAM.

Regular readers of icon will be aware that Complementary Therapies have an extraordinary amount to offer to cancer patients, far more than most people realise. Hence another important aspect of our work is education. Integrated treatment is the name now given to the synthesis of orthodox western medicine with a wide range of complementary and alternative approaches, many from other medical traditions. Inherent in CAM is the ability to ameliorate the harsh side effects and minimise organ damage from orthodox treatment, to support the bodys innate defences that suffer so much during treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and even to increase the effectiveness of those treatments. And apart from these complementary roles, alternative approaches to cancer treatment can sometimes offer possibilities at a time when orthodox medicine has none.

Crucially, CAM offers people a central role in their own treatment and return to wellbeing. They are empowered through their choices to take an active part in combatting their circumstances, and the extraordinary positivity, hope and sheer will to survive that can emanate from this is, I believe, a crucial ingredient in both the quality of life they experience, and the outcome.

Yes to Life operates a Help Centre accessible by phone or email (see below) but plans to have a drop-in centre where people can come and get information, support, complementary therapies or just someone to talk to. Alongside this service, we have been developing a new model of care. We have just completed a one year pilot to trial our OnetoOne service. With this new service we aim to provide people with cancer with a highly trained volunteer guide - typically an ex-cancer patient or close relative - to support them from diagnosis through treatment and beyond. A diagnosis of cancer is a time of immense turmoil and stress for many individuals and their families, as they face a huge range of challenges - their world is turned upside down. Despite the immense difficulties individuals face, many remain unaware of the possibility of taking a more proactive role in combatting the disease and of the support services available to them. A Yes to Life OnetoOne will act as a guide through the totally unfamiliar terrain they face, give pointers to the services that can provide the help they need, and will support them in making positive choices to help themselves. We are currently in discussions regarding a second pilot scheme that we hope will be run across an entire NHS. Primary Care Trust. More information on the scheme is available on the Yes to Life website.

Tragically, Bryony died suddenly before we could really begin the treatments we hoped would help her, but she has left an extraordinary legacy. Until the day when there was no doubt she was dying, she was living with a capital L. She even met death with the most extraordinary courage and spirit.

What was left was her shining example, the majority of the money we had raised for her treatment, and her great wish that Yes to Life go on to help others like her. There was nothing for it but to get started on the work to be done. I count myself fortunate to have found many extraordinary friends and supporters prepared to share the same vision and to give of themselves to make Yes to Life a reality.

Robin Daly - Founder and Chairman

Website:  www.yestolife.org.uk 
Help Centre:  helpcentre@yestolife.org.uk  0870 163 2990
Office:  office@yestolife.org.uk  0203 222 0587  

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