29 February 2012

Optimism Worthless For Cancer Patients?

A good friend and fellow cancer survivor "miracle" called my attention to an article of a relatively new group of Australian researchers who have been reports of a clinical study of optimism. These people were supposed to study the role, if any, that optimism may play in the recovery of cancer patients. I found prominently displayed on the webpage of a support organization of national cancer patient. It was almost as if this association was particularly pleasing to good news.

From the Associated Press has seen fit to share this little gem of pseudo (junk) science with the world, I decided I should do no less. Mark this well, dear reader, you're unlikely to see her elsewhere for some time to come. It is presented here exactly as it appeared in the news release.


According to a recent Associated Press article, a positive attitude does not improve chances of surviving cancer and doctors who encourage patients to keep hoping perhaps to impose.

Patients are overwhelmed trying to maintain a positive outlook during their difficult situations, said researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia and five other health centers in an article published in the journal Cancer.

Optimism makes no difference in the fate of most of the nearly two hundred patients with lung cancer who have taken Australia for 5 years. Only eight people were still alive when the study ended in 2001. According to health experts, this is the first scientifically valid look at optimism and cancer.

The results surprised some researchers who expected optimistic patients live longer. "

Now, it is certainly worth a few comments, especially of such as me who personally beat cancer with metastatic renal cell metastices plural to the lungs. Not only my doctors are not "burden" me with optimism, they seemed to really worry that I might somehow develop "false hopes". This term is, itself, an outrage, even if it is used universally in the halls of medicine. Hope is neither true nor false, it's just hope and a beautiful word, it is

This story does not say much for the cancer system in Australia now? They had about 192 200 patients die and they blame the optimism! As a child I remember hearing the old adage that a bad excuse is better than nothing. It could be just as well to note that a group of people were the most optimistic in the world to be standing against a wall before a firing squad, optimism would be considered of little value when the bullets started to fly. A better question to ask how a patient in a medical system no better than could possibly find something to be optimistic. Had I been one of peer review of this little pseudo-scientific boiling pot, I think I would have asked the following questions.

1) How can we quantify the optimism? Can be distinguished from wishful thinking? Is a numerical scale was derived which allows the "researcher", for example, the distinction between a high value compared No. 10 optimizer and a lowly No. 3 optimizer? Furthermore, since optimism was presented as an independent variable in the study, there remain constant all the way to the fan? If not, then how was the time variant appeared in the data evaluation? Maybe eight of the patients experienced an "optimism sustainable" while others "failed optimism," the jargon of our clinical trials.

2) What, if any, qualifications did the researchers enabling them to induce or to assess optimism. If they were not doctors, they were there looking over the shoulders of doctors? Were present at the consultations of the infusions or through the long hours in waiting rooms? Were they there when the mountains were full of paperwork? If they were not involved in the above, then they missed an opportunity to see what a faulty medical system can do for a semblance of optimism. "Optimism sustainable" can be as difficult to mobilize as a cancer remission.

3) Were "researchers" present with patients through the long nights black as death, when life seems elusive hopes and fail? If they were not then this is the height of arrogance to claim to know the status of a patient optimism. It would be interesting to know if any of these experts on optimism for cancer patients never had the disease themselves.

4) Perhaps the better question is just how these 200 patients acquired their optimism in the first place? For the study to have a value, all 200 would have had been optimistic throughout. Since optimism is not usually present at diagnosis of cancer, so where that optimism comes from the beginning and how has it been maintained? It seems to me that there should have been at least involved a creative genius whose achievements are not revealed in detail. By this I refer to the person in the study who managed to induce the simultaneous optimism in 200 cancer patients and to maintain all the way to death. Now here is indeed a wonderful discovery that should be shared with the world! It seems that clinicians are given a generous dose of undeserved credit in this case. I seem to see an image of a white shirt clinician slamming his clipboard down and arrogance by declaring: "They were optimistic, by God, because I told them to be optimistic". Can be-there were doctors that stretches the truth a bit along the way to transmit this optimism, unjustified because it was in these circumstances. If this is the case then I suspect it is the doctors who do this courageous headform WHO were fooled. Cancer patients who have been around a while usually get pretty good at reading the tea leaves if anyone recognizes it or not.

It is a fact that, freed by one of the nagging questions above, this small piece of bovine scatology burst into the scene like a meteor cancer. Critics of the mind / body medicine were able to say: "See, I told you so". It turned out that the organization of cancer that featured section the first time I saw it appeared at that time engaged in a very hard every effort to recruit human subjects in clinical trials. It was observed that the elimination of hope may even make a good prospect signs of weakness. I hate to say but it seems to keep coming back to the notion that hope and money sitting on opposite sides of the table of cancer. We know there is scientific because the Associated Press says it is scientific. We know that optimism is now worthless for cancer outcomes because the Associated Press says it is. And, if you believe that, I have a field Florida swamp that I can sell you at great prices!

Back in 1993 Gerald White survived a kidney tumor 20 pounds that subsequently went metastasis to distant organs. After all medical treatments had failed and the terrible "only three more months" death sentence had been delivered. He worked on a self-directed program of guided imagery, which induced a remission in three months. He served a three-year term as Director of the Cancer Association National Kidney. Through its website, it maintains an active mentoring program world line which resulted in many similar cases remissions thought to be hopeless. His book was translated into Chinese and Hungarian. A credible scientist, in his career before the cancer, he has made some 20 technology patents in 9 countries.