Today I have a heavy heart. The sister of a close of friend of mine is about to die from cancer. I’m deeply saddened by the thought that there is nothing I can do to change this, nothing I can do to help her, nothing in my power that can save her life at this point in time. I asked myself, “Is it true? Is there nothing I can do to save her life, or prolong it for even a day, a month a year?”
A voice from deep inside spoke to me. “If you had been involved in her cancer treatment early on in her sickness, you may be been able to cure her”.
The friend’s sister 49 years old was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. She suffered through multiple opérations that removed her uterus, ovaries, appendix and the greater omentum.
The omentum, dubbed “the policeman of the abdomen”, is a little understood organ. It’s primarily a curtain of fatty tissue that hangs down from our stomach and liver and wraps around the intestines. It plays an important role in our immune responses and metabolism.
In addition to surgery, my friend’s sister had to endure chemotherapy treatment. A year later, in March 2018, she was admitted to hospital because of blood clots in her brain. During the physical exam, doctors found that her cancer was spreading. This time doctors could not do any further surgery or subject her to more chemotherapy because blood clots had also formed in her heart. The only option was to give her pain relieving drugs, including morphine. Eventually the intensity of her pain became so severe that the pain killers ceased to have any effect.
Most people think that it’s the cancer that is killing us. However, from the Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Why? Medicine that is administered to cure disease and sickness travels to the affected area of the body via the blood stream. If the flow of blood has been obstructed, the medicine can’t work like it’s supposed to. Blood flows through the body to provide nutrition to each organ and takes away the waste by-products of cell metabolism. When the blood clots, it prevents the smooth, regular flow of nutrient rich blood from being delivered to the area in need, nor can the waste by-products of cell metabolism be taken away to be expelled from the body. As a result, the area fighting off the illness/disease becomes painful. Pain is the body’s natural distress signal telling us that something is wrong here. In Chinese medicine we call it “ bu tong ce tong”, meaning that the blockage created by blood and energy stagnation causes pain. Stagnation is the root of disease. Logic therefore, dictates that the clotting is the first problem that has to be fixed in any illness scenario.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats pain by removing the blood clots in order to promote the smooth circulation of blood in the affected area by employing herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion which ultimately restores the smooth flow of blood. When the blood clots are cleared, then and only then, can the highway to health restored allowing both nutrition and waste by-products to be transported to and from the affected area, allowing the body to heal itself causing the pain to eventually disappear.
You can’t sail a ship on dry land.
Ketty Pan is a Registered Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner (TCMP) with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario.