Being diagnosed with Cancer is a traumatic experience. Apart from the physical pain and suffering, the mind goes numb and decision-making becomes impossible. However, it is important to look at Cancer as a journey and not as the end of your life. This can help you garner the courage to put up a fight and even defeat it. At Love Heals Cancer, we believe that you can live a normal life, even with Cancer, if you find the right combination of science, nature, and a generous dose of love.
It is important to remember that Cancer treatment is different for each patient. So, while you might be inspired to try a particular therapy because a friend’s relative or a YouTube video says it’s the best, you must ensure that you confide in a healthcare provider before making any such decision.
Imagine cancer care clinics as restaurants. Chefs have many ingredients to create recipes—cancer care calls them protocols—for different dishes. Ingredients (therapies) can be combined in many ways. A standard fare American restaurant would offer conventional chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, and some new dishes like immunotherapies and experimental therapies. A Chinese restaurant would offer traditional Chinese medicine and qigong. A naturopathic restaurant would use many many natural products. Some restaurants would offer “fusion menus,” combining conventional and complementary therapy dishes. You wouldn’t expect everyone to want to eat in the same restaurant. Tastes differ and needs differ.
Types of Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments can be broadly classified as conventional, alternative (and/or complementary), and a combination of both (integrative cancer treatment).
- Newer conventional treatments like:
- Targeted therapy
- Stem Cell Transplants
- Hormone therapy
Alternative and/or Complementary Treatments
- Tibetan medicine
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Breathing practices
- Wheatgrass therapy
- Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids
- Gerson Therapy
- Macrobiotic diet
- Healing practices
- Spiritual approaches, etc.
Integrative Cancer Treatment
This is a combination of conventional and alternative or complementary treatments.
Natural Products and Other Therapies
Many people with cancer, plus their caregivers and healthcare providers, are looking for natural products and other therapies. Finding credible information on therapies can be difficult.
Our All Therapies section provides evidence-based or evidence-informed summaries on therapies that we believe merit consideration in integrative cancer care.
We don’t recommend therapies but present what we’ve found regarding uses, cautions, professional opinions and more.
As in all aspects of medical care, each therapy needs to be considered in the context of your situation:
Your cancer disease state
- Your physical condition: fitness, nutritional status, stress levels and resilience
- Other medical conditions present: allergies, diabetes or heart disease, for example
- Your available financial, emotional and logistical support
- All the other therapies you are using or plan to use
Integrative oncologists and naturopathic physicians are trained in considering the full context of your situation in recommending therapies. We encourage you to work with a healthcare team who can evaluate therapies in light of your personal context.
Some tips to help you decide
The list of treatment options is very large and choosing one can be nerve-racking, especially when one has been diagnosed with Cancer. However, before you make up your mind about the treatment option that you want to pursue, it is important that you establish trust with a healthcare professional. Remember, most patients who have successfully defeated Cancer and are living a good life have done so in partnership with their doctors. Here are some tips to help you decide:
- Establish basic rules like:
- Are you comfortable knowing everything about the treatment? Or, would you have a caregiver (close family/friend) to discuss things with your doctor and help you with decisions?
- Are you comfortable making treatment decisions yourself? Or, would you prefer that your doctor or a family member or caregiver make those decisions for you?
- Understand the side-effects of each treatment and communicate your preference to the doctor.
- Research well:
- Depending on the symptoms of Cancer decide if you want to research the treatment options or entrust someone else to do it for you.
- Look at medical journals and clinical studies to assess the effectiveness of each option.
- Assess the risks vs. benefits:
- Review the side-effects and decide if you can handle them
- Consider the financial costs of the treatment
- Look at the ways in which the treatment will affect your overall health and quality of life.
- Talk to your doctor:
- Try to understand what if happening inside your body and how the treatment would help heal (only if you are comfortable with it).
- Make a list of questions that you want to ask your doctor
- Keep a diary to note down symptoms and changes in health during the course of the treatment
- If possible, record your conversations with the doctor (with his consent).
- Don’t rush with our decisions.
- Seek a second opinion if you want.
Remember, you are the only person who knows what you are going through. We are not here to tell you which treatment options are good for you. All we want to do is empower you with knowledge about the various types of treatments available so that you can make an informed decision.
References & More Information
- Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
- Life Over Cancer
- Cancer Commons
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Cancer.Net
- LHC: Healing Circles
- Healing Circles Langley: Decision-Making Under Pressure
- Jeremy R. Geffen, MD, FACP: The Journey through Cancer: An Oncologist’s Seven-Level Program for Healing and Transforming the Whole Person
- Norman Cousins: Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Are You Considering a Complementary Health Approach?
- Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP): KNOWOncology
- Michael Lerner: Choices In Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer
- Macquarie University and Western Sydney Local Health District: BRECONDA: Breast Reconstruction Decision Aid