The (exhorbitant) cost of complementary therapies and a few ways to offset the cost

Tired-of-Expensive-Medical-Bills-Change-is-on-the-way

Updated 11 July 2016

I’ve noticed a lot of fundraising being done for people with Stage 4 cancer.  I understand that not everyone wants to sell or re-mortgage their house, or take out a loan, or run up huge bills on credit cards, or maybe they’ve already done so and have reached the limits of borrowing, or they’ve got families to think about and support and can’t stretch their finances any further.  Or maybe they just can’t imagine borrowing money in case they die.  But what I’ve noticed is that some of these people with Stage 4 who are fundraising, is well, by the time they meet their targets, it’s taken a month … two months (if they’re lucky) … and then they die before the money comes in because the cancer has become more aggressive and advanced.  What I want to say is:  if you’re Stage 4, don’t wait for the target to be reached.  Go now.  Time is critical if you’re Stage 4.  Run up the credit card bills.  Buy yourself that precious time.  And in the meanwhile, yes, fundraise like crazy.  Because the longer you live, the more money you will need to keep the cancer in remission.

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When I first started out with using complementary therapies as a means to heal myself of the cancer, I hadn’t realised it was going to be so expensive.

I understand that practitioners with skill and expertise should be fairly rewarded for their service, so before you jump into the world of complementary therapies, please note that complementary therapies are not as cheap as allopathic medicine because complementary practitioners believe that they can charge a fair market rate.  Often this equates what a doctor would charge in private practice.  Unlike free treatment on the NHS, all complementary therapies must be paid for out of your own pocket.

I’ll give you a quick idea of how expensive treatments can be.

Ayurvedic treatments – each session of Panchakarma [a kind of detox involving massage and sauna with herbs], marmapuncture [Vedic version of accupuncture] and herbs cost nearly £200 each.  This varies from practitioner to practitioner.

Accupuncture – a session costs between £30 to £50.  An initial consultation costs more.

Intravenous vitamin C – depending on dosage, each session can cost from £120 to £200.  This depends also from clinic to clinic.   So if you have a 3-week regime of 18 sessions, averaging £150, well, you do the maths.  A 3-week regime followed by twice-weekly follow up for up to 3 months (i.e. 36 sessions in total) will cost approximately £6,000.  And there’s no guarantee it will work, so if it doesn’t, that’s £6,000 down the drain.

Hyperthermia and ozone – depending on the type of hyperthermia and ozone, this can cost from £25 to £40 per session.

Counsellor – a good counsellor will see you through the ups and downs of having cancer and will understand what it’s like to have cancer.  Average cost is £60 or more per hour.

Nutritionist – a nutritionist is integral especially when you first start out to help you undo the bad dietary habits and help you get good ones.  Cost:  £60 or more per hour.

Homeopath – from £40 to £70 depending on region and reputation.  An initial 2-hour consultation in London can cost £150.

Supplements – approximately £200 to £500 per month.  For example, I also take an oral form of vitamin C, Lypospheric Vitamin C, and that costs over £200 for 12 boxes of 30 sachets.  I take about 6 sachets a day.

Harley Street – beware any integrative doctor practising in the Harley Street area.  A lot of these doctors rent rooms at an address.  The cost of the rent is high and this is passed onto the patient.  Intravenous vitamin C may cost from £150 upwards for 10g compared to the low £100s in the provinces.  Having said that, there is a very expensive clinic up north which charges Harley Street prices.

Basically, cancer patients are vulnerable people and willing to pay anything to get better especially if it avoids the nastier side-effects of allopathic medicine.  So this opens the field to any doctor or practitioner who can exploit this weakness by charging huge sums of money.  Someone I know told me that she recently met a doctor who was just starting a practice specialising in complementary therapies in London and when she asked how much he would charge, he said £5,000 to £20,000 to cure her!!!

So don’t say “yes” to just any doctor.  Just because they are a doctor or a specialist does not mean they are entitled to rip you off.  Get a second opinion before you commit yourself to any clinic, doctor, or treatment.   A good person to get a second opinion from is Patricia Peat of CancerOptions.  Or Grace Gawler of the Grace Gawler Institute.

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So what can you do if you don’t want to re-mortgage the house, or take on 3 extra credit cards?  Here are some ways and means of getting some of these treatments at a discount, or even free:

– The fantastic breast cancer charity, the Haven (which has a branch in Fulham, London) will provide 10 free sessions of complementary therapies.  These do not, unfortunately, include intravenous vitamin C.  However, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing the Haven is.  The staff are used to dealing with people with cancer and their therapists are very kind, very understanding, non-judgemental and able to defuse fear and panic.  If you don’t have breast cancer, there are other cancer charities that also provide free complementary therapies.

– There’s the Penny Brohn breast cancer charity in Bristol – I think this was the first of its kind in the UK.  Someone I know went to them and had a wonderful weekend workshop.

– Subsidised homeopathy and accupuncture from various teaching schools in the country.  Or from the breast cancer charity the Haven.

And finally, if you want to get funding for treatment, I know a number of people who have launched public appeals via the cancer charity, Yes to Life.  What the charity does is to act as an umbrella and administrator for the funds that are collected via a JustGiving site.  The bills from treatments are sent directly to Yes to Life who will pay them.  Friends and family who donate get the assurance that the money is being used solely for cancer treatment.  And the charity benefits from getting the GiftAid from UK tax payers’ donations.

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