Sunday, January 15, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0052 - Alistair Cunningham

So far, nobody at Grand River Regional Cancer Centre has recommended or even mentioned mental therapies as an adjunct to the conventional medical treatment I am receiving for rectal cancer. This isn’t surprising, I suppose. The centre is new and mental therapies are not what most would call standard approaches to the treatment of any chronic disease.

But the largest cancer research organization in Canada, the Ontario Cancer Institute, located at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, is host to one of the most important scholars in the world with a primary research interest in such therapies – Dr. Alastair J. Cunningham.

I purchased a very recent publication by Cunningham yesterday at Chapters in KitchenerCan the Mind Heal Cancer? A Clinician-Scientist Examines the Evidence. I didn’t do so because of a prior knowledge of Cunningham, his work, or even the fact that a Canadian is a leading researcher in the area. I was merely browsing the cancer section of the bookshelves, looking for Syd Birrell’s Ya Can’t Let Cancer Ruin Your Day. As it happened, I found and purchased both books.

As I began reading Cunningham’s most recent book, I realized that I had already discovered and failed to follow up a web site designed by the Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, and the University Health Network called The Healing Journey Program. I went back to the site, bookmarked it for later reference, and downloaded the PDF file Healing Journey, Level 1 Workbook. They are all part of the resource materials for which Alistair Cunningham is responsible – the book, the workbook, the program, the web site.

Tomorrow, I will check the resource centre at the GRRCC to see if the CDs and video cassettes of the program are available to cancer patients. If not, I’ll simply use the workbook, order the audio CDs, and consider participating in the workshops held at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

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