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After bowel cancer, I understand why people are tempted to reject treatment

Published on 11 May 2017 back to previous

Sometimes I fear health professionals are fighting a losing battle.

Where people who are very sick, and sometimes dying, choose to ignore evidence and medical expertise and walk away from treatments that may save their lives. Instead they opt for alternative therapies that might meet their emotional needs, but are backed by little more than anecdotes and personal experiences.

They do this because they are scared and feeling completely alone, but their doctors are often oblivious to this. I know this because I've been in the hospital bed myself.

I consider myself a man of science. I was trained as a scientist, have worked as a science communicator and am now studying to become a doctor.

But at the age of 28, I was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer and told I needed aggressive treatments.

When this happened, I found myself drawn to treatments that had little evidence — in a bid to take back control of my body and do something that would help me beat this disease.

I was on the brink of saying no to conventional treatment. I considered abandoning the medicine that in my head I knew would save me, but in my heart terrified me.

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