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Book Review: To Kaisa - Life, Love & Complementary Health Care by Michael Vincent

This lovely book is a shining tribute to Kaisa lovingly written by her husband, the author. Kaisa, born in Finland in 1944, was a woman of huge spirit, wit and exceptionally mischievous humour. A person who lived life to the full, she came to the UK during the 1960s, lived in London, Suffolk, emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1990s, and moved to Somerset during the latter part of the 1990s. The book is illustrated by her artist husband.

The book makes riveting reading because it chronicles honestly Kaisa's eighteen year struggle and methods of treatment for a variety of cancers, beginning with breast cancer in 1983, for which she received radiotherapy treatment. The book chronicles how, the victim of misdiagnosis, patronization and being treated like a naughty child, Kaisa gradually assembled a huge amount of knowledge, with the help of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, regarding complementary self-help treatments, including nutritional and herbal medicine, relaxation, visualization and meditation, which enabled her to remain in remission from 1983 to 1996.

Following a recurrence of breast cancer in 1996, a dispute with the oncology team at Norfolk hospital, a transfer to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, and a residential week at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, Kaisa embarked upon a combined orthodox and complementary treatment approach, undergoing chemotherapy and a mastectomy in 1998.

It was her attitude and approach to her treatment, and how she interacted with the medical team and her friends and family, however, that is so intriguing about this book. Having read that negative expectations can severely undercut the patient's ability to maintain hope,[1] Kaisa was strong-willed and independent, attending cancer treatment clinics by herself, keeping her illness rather private and not revealing the true extent of her pain and suffering, steering clear of 'negative' people. Lung cancer was diagnosed in 1999 and treated with chemotherapy in 2000 which was only partially successful, followed by the devastating diagnosis of multiple brain tumours in 2001. She sadly died on 2nd April 2001.

Kaisa's approach to her treatment was underpinned by a determined search for knowledge and the answers to questions. Over many years she became exceptionally knowledgeable about wild flowers and herbs and their healing properties. She created a herb garden in an allotment, creating many remedies for colds, headaches, stomach problems and the like. She also shared her knowledge with many others as well as applying it in her efforts to cope with cancer.

She was also attracted to spiritual healing, used homeopathy and vitamin and mineral supplements, in an attempt to strengthen her immune system. I am very moved that one of the publications she referred to regarding vitamins and mineral supplements was my book which originated from the Cancer and Nutrition database which I compiled for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre during the early 1990s.[2]

To Kaisa details her regime of nutritional and mineral supplements, herbal remedies, as well as her dietary advice (vegetables, salads and fruits, much of it eaten raw) as well as her favourite detoxification regime.

Other complementary therapies used to great advantage included counselling, reflexology, aromatherapy, acupressure, shiatsu, crystal healing and meditation.

Although it is a great sadness that Kaisa died, it has also been a time of grief for her loving husband, who has chosen to channel some of his energies to putting together this book as a tribute to Kaisa, as well as a help to others who may be living with cancer.

The author has stated that all proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to complementary health care.

References

1. Simonton, Simonton and Creighton. Getting Well Again. Bantam Books. 1978.

2. Goodman Sandra. Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the Art. Positive Health Publications Ltd. 1998.