In the news recently is the story about Steve Jobs using alternative therapies for his cancer, which delayed the start of mainstream treatments. He then regretted this decision that delayed his cancer treatments; something that his biographer is now saying after the passing of the man worshipped by techies everywhere.
It could well have been that had the mainstream treatments for Jobs’ cancer started early he may have lived longer. The chemo, earlier surgery and other targeted treatments if used earlier may well have extended his life to some extent. This was particularly true in the case of Jobs because he had been diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer that may have benefited from early treatment.
However Psychology Today makes an interesting point about Steve Jobs and his choice of alternative treatments: does a longer life necessarily translate into a happier life?
What about the toll that mainstream cancer treatments take on a person’s well being and their quality of life?
There is the fact that mainstream therapies for cancer have some terrible side effects that can hugely restrict the normal working for a person – surgery can put a person out of commission for quite a while and has its attendant risks as well.
The weakness, discomfort, nausea and debility that are the hallmarks of chemo therapy are well known facts. The possible repercussions of radiation therapy are another huge question mark.
There is also the fact that cancer treatments can place a huge economic burden on the finances of a person and the family. The emotional and financial toll of forcefully extending a life has to be considered when contemplating cancer treatments.
Jobs supposedly regretted that he eschewed these treatments in favor alternative therapies that ultimately did not work. There was perhaps some amount of regret and disillusionment about treatments that held out hope for him, only to cause ultimate disappointment.
However the same can very well be said about prescription medications, which often simply don’t work for a given person and their disease.
The bottom line here has to be that medical treatment has to be a very personal choice and in the case of cancer, it could be that the “either-or” approach is not the best one for everyone. While some may prefer to use natural remedies for what good they may or may not do without troublesome side effects, others may choose to complement their treatments by using natural methods.
For instance meditation, massage and Reiki are known to help those who are undergoing the difficult side effects of chemo.