Andrew McClymont | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Patient Stories

Andrew McClymontAn integrated approach to cancer care: bowel cancer patient Andrew McClymont’s experience

Two days after Andrew McClymont was diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer he started chemotherapy, followed quickly by appointments with the Lifehouse exercise physiologist, acupuncturist, dietitian, and our Supportive Care and Integrative Oncology Specialist, Dr Judith Lacey.

“I was introduced to Dr Lacey by my oncologist, Peter Grimison,” Andrew said. “Dr Grimison saw me at really short notice because of the stage of my diagnosis. He explained everything, he picked up the phone, he called consultants. And he passed on my details to Dr Lacey, the Integrative Care Specialist and she called me right away.”

Andrew said: “When I first met Dr Lacey I went into the meeting not fully appreciating and understanding what she had to offer. But now I do.”

Dr Lacey is Lifehouse’s first Integrative Care Specialist, and plays a vital role assisting in improving patients’ quality of life and sense of wellbeing. She has been working as a doctor for over 25 years, and has extensive experience providing holistic care for people and their families living with cancer that affects their physical and emotional wellbeing. She also helps manage patients’ cancer pain syndromes, radiotherapy related symptoms and gastrointestinal and nutritional effects of cancers and their treatments including post-surgical long-term difficulties.

At Lifehouse, Dr Lacey works closely with oncologists, surgeons and other referring doctors to provide holistic medical consultations to help develop the best approach to maintaining wellness and wellbeing for people living with a cancer diagnosis.

Andrew said: “Judith carried out an analysis of my needs and my partner’s needs. She listened to both of us and asked questions of both of us. Every time I’ve met Judith, even if my partner isn’t there, she’s always asked how my partner is coping. It’s all made me feel quite special.”

Dr Lacey said: “Working with patients like Andrew is a significant part of my practice as a supportive care and integrative oncology specialist.

“For Andrew, like many people living with cancer, it takes a team and good interdisciplinary communication to get the best cancer therapy related outcomes. Working together with a person and a team of specialists and practitioners to maximise wellness is what motivates me as a doctor to keep doing this work; knowing that I can potentially improve the quality of someone’s cancer experience and life with and after cancer.”

The benefits of this holistic approach came to the fore recently when Andrew was struggling with some pain he was experiencing.

Andrew said: “I was in a degree of pain and the medication I was on wasn’t working. Late in the morning yesterday I made an appointment to see Judith, and came in and saw her this morning. She examined me, she asked questions, she understood my problem, then prescribed some medication. She suggested trying acupuncture, and I was able to see Suzanne the acupuncturist that afternoon. Judith also recommended that I had a scan and wrote the referral for that.

“The nice thing for me was that I could do everything in one day, and that when I had my acupuncture session, Suzanne had already been well briefed by Judith. It really put me at ease and meant I didn’t have to keep telling the same story over and over again.”

Dr Lacey said: “The great thing about working in this way with other therapists at Lifehouse means we have a wonderful opportunity to explore a variety of interventions that can safely contribute to improving patient wellbeing.

“Our team at Lifehouse is made up of highly qualified therapists providing evidence based non-invasive therapies such as acupuncture, exercise, meditation, nutritional advice, mind body therapies and touch therapies. I see integrative oncology as an exciting and growing part of supportive cancer care.”

If you or someone you know would like to see Dr Lacey, please contact the LivingRoom on (02) 8514 0038 or livingroom@lh.org.au.

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