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Table 4 THEME 1 - Positive perceptions & experiences

From: Australian integrative oncology services: a mixed-method study exploring the views of cancer survivors

Perceived positive impact on cancer survival
 • Interpreter: “The cancer in my lungs had developed and went up to the brain. Terminal, it was just terminal. So, in 2000 I took Chinese medicine for one year and it stopped”. (Vietnamese FG)
 • “The final result from this [food, exercise and Chinese medicine] is your immune system becomes strong, balanced. Then you will get healthy and you have a chance that it will fight each other – the good guy fighting the bad guy.” (Chinese FG)
 • “It is very helpful to me and many of the people who also practise qi gong were diagnosed five or ten years ago and they are still living.” (Chinese FG)
Perceived positive impact on side-effects and recovery
 • Interpreter: “It’s just after drinking the Chinese medicine, it really helped me with eating because after taking chemo, I was unable to eat… Yeah. I’ve been drinking Chinese medicine now for over a year” (Vietnamese FG)
 • “So, the doctor said “You can have additional therapy like radiotherapy, but – or you can wait…” So, I was thinking, well, what can do in meantime? I know I have the cancer, but they are minor. So, then I think about other complementary therapy like a supplement, like what [another participant] told and I did went to see a traditional herbal Chinese doctor… after recovery from the surgery, I’m back to normal.” (Chinese FG)
 • Interpreter: “Since I started meditation, I’ve reduced on the painkillers.” (Vietnamese FG)
Perceived positive impact on co-morbidities
 • “… But I found with the acupuncture and the massage in particular, apart from the side effects that you get from the traditional treatments – your chemotherapy, your radiation …. if you had any other ailments prior to cancer, they continue to exist throughout the whole cancer … journey. And those supplementary therapies help with that as well as the other, because when you have got cancer, those other things suddenly seemed magnified.” (Anglo-European FG)
 • “The massage is great for me because I have all the underlying [health problems] are also a part of me… The doctor said, “We can’t give you chemo that these guys have had,” …he said to me, “If we give you normal chemo, your lungs will pack in before you do.” Now, he said to me [there was a change in the treatment plan] and I said, “Why?” He said, “because you’re not as sick as you should be” and I said, “Well, is that a positive?” …and I just feel the complementary things that they do give us, the massage, to me, is a Godsend.” (Anglo-European FG)
Perceived positive impact on wellbeing
 • “I haven’t tried anything else but the massage. I found it really relaxing especially the last time I went. That’s about a couple of weeks ago. I have a problem. I was tired. I wasn’t having any energy. I was really depressed and when she took me in for about 45 min, when I come out and I felt like, “God bless you. You’re here to help people.” It was so beautiful, and so relaxing, so good. So you come out and you think, ‘God, please help those ladies and help us to help others.’” (Anglo-European FG)
 • “Yeah, so I’ve – started the supplement. I find I’m full of energy. I feel well again. I feel great. So therefore, I continued taking the supplement so hopefully that it will bring a good immune system to me that I can continue to work and do my normal stuff.” (Chinese FG)
 • “There’s the physical symptoms and so on that you get, and then there’s the emotional. Even though they may not be necessarily a psychologist or whatever, I have found that it does help you with the emotional and mental side of it as well [as] the whole thing.” (Anglo-European FG)
Downplaying negative outcomes
 • “And then just by experience because somebody take, very good – oh, this medicine is very good. And everybody take. Somebody take, very good really, and somebody die. But they die, they kept very quiet. They never say die because of this medicine. But if somebody become good, they say, “I take this medicine. So, oh, good.” And then there’s – of course they will promote. They always tell a good story.” (Chinese FG)
Positive experiences with T&CM practitioners
 • “I can go to my local guy and get a massage and he’ll get sort of right into the deep tissue and all the rest, but it’s not the same. I don’t come out of there feeling the same as I do when I leave here, so it’s not just getting a massage or just getting acupuncture… It’s a different feel..”,
 • “It’s that person that is dealing with cancer patients… they have that specific training with oncology. I mean they’re not oncologists obviously, but they have some training and awareness of – of the whole thing” (Anglo-European FG)
 • “See, that sort of stuff that you would – you probably could sit down and have a really good discussion with a naturopath… Yeah… Because a lot of people – in my opinion and just my opinion, have no training whatsoever, but a lot of people will take vitamin supplements and so on. If you’re taking vitamin D, and you don’t need it, it’s wasted.” (Anglo-European FG)
Positive experiences with IO services
 • “I think to have it close by to where the other treatments are taking place helps, because I was able to go from radiation and then after I finished my treatment, then come up to the wellness centre and continue with whatever it was that I needed.” (Anglo-European FG)