People react in many different ways when we tell them we have been diagnosed with cancer. In my case, I find one of the most common reactions is wanting to help in some way. I have had offers to mind my animals, money paid into my bank account, ten nighties sent to me ... and alternative medicines thrust upon me! A dear French friend who is very much into herbal remedies photocopied an article about "propolis" (defined in my French dictionary as "hive dross") and directed me to a shop which sold it (at great expense, I might add) whilst religious friends have sent me a large bag of bitter-tasting apricot kernels, which apparently contain cyanide!! I have been faithfully chewing the hive dross (like chewing beeswax I would imagine from the taste, although I have never in all honesty tasted beeswax) and today had 3 apricot kernels on my breakfast cereal, but then I had a bloodtest prior to commencing chemotherapy next week, and I suddenly thought, what if something weird from these products shows up in my blood? Will the doctor think I have some unknown disease, or be cross that I have been taking unprescribed drugs? And once the chemo starts - if I continue taking these alternative medicines, how will I know which side effects are due to what? It's a tricky one. I know the generous friends are acting with the best of all possible intentions. They want me to get well, and directing me towards alternative treatments is their way of showing they care. I feel I owe it to them to try what they recommend - if I don't, they will think I don't even want to get well. But I do worry about the effect of them on the chemo, and vice versa. And certainly in the case of the apricot kernels, I have yet to find any evidence that they can work against cancer, only warnings that they contain a poison! Okay, so chemo is poison, that's how it kills the cancer. But to take an unsubscribed poison alongside the prescribed one ...? My French friend tells me herbal medicine is banned in France. They are big on homeopathic remedies, but apparently her friend, who is keen on herbal medicines, has to have his factory in Poland because it is forbidden to have one in France. She advised me not to tell the doctors I was using alternative medicine. But I do feel the doctor/patient relationship has to be founded on trust - so surely I should tell her. But then, if she prohibits it .... am I doing friends and family a disservice by turning my back on something which might keep me with them longer??! How do the rest of you cope with such offers of "help"? Or am I the only person who attracts this kind of assistance?!