Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I meet someone at a party. He asks what line of work I'm in. 

I say, "I facilitate cancer support groups."

He takes a step backward. "Wow," he says, "that must be heavy. Really depressing. I mean, all those dying people crying on each other's shoulders."

His is a common and even understandable assumption, but in thirty-some years of facilitating cancer support groups, I've never seen that sort of unalloyed bummer. Sure, people cry sometimes, and some die. But that's real life, isn't it? And there's plenty of love and laughter, and that's real life, too. 

Because the picture of support groups as total gloom is so common, a few of us psychosocial types got together at our cancer center and decided to make an educational video. The center funded two terrific videographers, Jan Fishler and Richard Bannister. Members of several support groups (patients, caregivers, kids) volunteered to be in it. We shot two hours one June afternoon, and Richard and Jan pared it down to something under seven minutes. The video is deliberately un-copyrighted; feel free to pirate it.


  1. Excellent video Dr. Kane! As a nurse who has worked with critical incident stress management, I know that it is much easier to talk to someone who knows (truly knows) how you are feeling and how those feelings can be jumbled, overwhelming, confusing, etc. In talking to a group of oncology nurses about post-op pain management last year, I really pushed the idea of having the patient get into a support group or meeting with a patient who has already been down the same road to talk with them. Thanks again.

  2. Donald,

    I checked out your Intelligent Nurse webpage. You're to be commended on working to refine skills, especially those involved in communication.

    As you point out, nothing in treating suffering succeeds like the sufferer communing with those who have been there themselves, or who at least are skilled, compassionate listeners. My ultimate goal is for doctors to tell people with serious illnesses that their treatment will be the standard medical regimen plus skilled support.

  3. Dr Kane, I admire what you are doing. Let me do a little more.

    There is a treatment available that has a claimed 75% success rate if you believe the inventor. I do because I researched the theory and science behind it. It is called 714x, maybe you have heard of it.

    From the Cancer Assoc. website.

    "714-X is used as a complementary/alternative method in Canada, Western Europe, and Mexico to treat cancer, AIDS, and other diseases. It is not legally available in the United States."

    If you read the history of cancer from an alternative point of view, reading about people like Virginia Livingston and George Nassens etc., cancer already has massive amount of research into its causes.
    Cancer releases a growth hormone that when suppressed, the bodies immune system can take over and heal. Thats what certain alternative cures do.

    These have been suppressed(not legally available in the US). Check it out.

  4. Thanks for the note, brantly.

    I consulted the website you referred me to, http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/PharmacologicalandBiologicalTreatment/714-x

    That page presents an evaluation of 714-X by the American Cancer Society. To put it mildly, ACS doesn't rate it highly.

    I'm sure you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other putative cancer cures that when scientifically examined do not pan out. Their proponents usually claim these treatments have been suppressed via various conspiracies. I tend to think they're not in use principally because they don't work.

    I want to be careful here, though. There's hardly any treatment that someone, somewhere doesn't claim was effective in their case. I've applied pretty fringy treatments to my own self at times, and benefited from it. That doesn't mean my methods will work for others, so I don't proselytize for them. Nor would I attempt to dissuade someone from using 714-X unless I suspected it would harm them.