Grace Gawler - Helping You Navigate the Cancer Maze

Seniors and Minimally Invasive Cancer Treatments

For older patients, getting a second opinion before committing to treatment is a crucial survival strategy

One patient recently wrote to us, “I’m 77 & want to spend more years dancing with my lovely partner. Can I fight my cancer without severe side-effects? “

The answer is an emphatic yes: At the Grace Gawler Institute we draw on Grace’s 49+ years experience helping patients navigate the gentle cancer maze. 

Minimally Invasive Treatments: Over the last 4 decades Grace has referred patients to international cancer clinics where for example; they can access; cell-based immune therapy in combination with low dose chemotherapy & local hyperthermia.

These broad experiences have given Grace an in-depth knowledge of minimally invasive treatments mostly unknown to doctors in Australia & New Zealand.

Her global network of cancer networks affords better quality of life & longevity for patients; especially over 60’s who are well enough to travel. These treatments come highly recommended.

If any of these “age-related” issues ring true for you & you would like to organise a second opinion regarding your cancer treatment; please contact Grace.

NOTE:  In recent years, Australia and NZ now offer some of the treatments previously only found overseas. With skilled navigation, Grace can help patients access these targeted treatments which have fewer side effects.

Grace Gawler Cancer SurvivorshipOlder patients should weigh up the potential Risks vs Benefits of Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy?

Some factors that complicate cancer treatments in the over 60’s are:

  • Physiological changes – not apparent in younger patients  – thinning of skin and tissues, joint health, poor dental health, liver and kidney issues due to ageing etc
  • Comorbidities – i.e. other illnesses e.g. cardiac, vascular, hormonal challenge, arthritis, dental etc
  • Polypharmacy 1. – Mixtures of pharmaceuticals for various age associated conditions
  • Polypharmacy 2. – Over 60’s who may have had a life-long medical condition or a series of lifelong medical conditions.

If you are over 60 with the above conditions & diagnosed with cancer; then lower doses of conventional cancer treatments may serve you better. As well as having other minimally invasive cancer treatments. Such treatments are also within the medical & scientific model but may not be offered to you as a first option.

Quality of Life and Well-being for over 60’s undertaking conventional treatments:

It must be taken into account that short term quality of life & ability to continue managing daily living activities may be more important for over 60’s than a modest survival chance when deciding whether to accept chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
If your oncologist is young(ish), they may not have taken into account that your age can make a difference to treatment outcomes. The area is still poorly researched; elderly or senior people are very under-represented in clinical trials.

Consequences: if a 72-year-old patient depends on their social networks at the local Bowls/Golf clubs and treatment side effects prevent them from partaking in such activities, the impact can have huge psychological, emotional & physiological consequences.

Jan’s story illustrates why I recommend seniors get a second opinion via my medical colleague networks

I help my older patients access a range of tests to determine suitability for treatments offered by oncologists.
In most of the cases I have dealt with (thousands) the tests can lead to targeted treatments that are less invasive, fewer side effects. Stories are useful to explain complex concepts.

True Story: Recently a patient (we’ll call her Jan), consulted with me after having received a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer. She was under some pressure to immediately start a course of chemotherapy and immunotherapy recommended by the oncologist at a prominent Sydney Hospital. Jan is 73 and we knew how devastating the treatment regime would be for a woman her age.

Some weeks later, the results from the tests we had ordered indicated that the chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments she had been recommended would not have slowed her cancer growth but would also have depleted her already exhausted immune system. A qualified second opinion and subsequent genomic tests showed Jan’s original treatment plan would have been brutal and ineffective. Read More

Precision or personalised cancer medicine using genomic testing reduces the need for one size fits all treatments for the over 60's

Grace Gawler, cancer navigator, has had multiple life saving surgeries overseas that are still not available here in AU or NZ

Grace is a survivor thanks to overseas treatments:
Patients are inspired to learn Grace has received overseas life-saving surgery herself (Netherlands 2002,3 & Singapore 2009, 14) when these options were not available in Australia. 
Fast forward to 2024 – the procedure is still not performed in Australia.
PODCAST: BBC – UK. Grace’s Overseas Surgery Success StoryClick Here

Treatment ethics for older patients. Lower dose chemotherapy proves as effective

Prof Ian Olver – Treatment ethics for older patients:

A patient will expect to be allowed to make an autonomous decision about chemotherapy (radiotherapy) but will be reliant on accurate information about the potential risks and benefits.” Continue Reading – full article by former chief executive officer of Cancer Council Australia, Dr Ian Olver

Cancer Research UK – Less chemotherapy better for older patients with some advanced cancers…

Less chemotherapy is as effective at controlling disease for elderly or frail patients with advanced cancer of the stomach or oesophagus (food pipe), and leads to fewer side effects such as diarrhoea and lethargy. Results from the trial could change the standard of care for patients who can’t have full dose chemotherapy due to their age, frailty or medical fitness.

Cancer Research UK funded study, presented prior to the ASCO conference. Continue Reading – Full article

Be Proactive

Talk to Grace, our experienced cancer navigator. Most patients say it was a life changing conversation & wish they had found her sooner...
Grace Gawler