An integrative approach to cancer…
- Combines conventional, self, and complementary care into an integrated whole.
- Improves treatment outcomes, makes your body less supportive of cancer, manages side effects, reduces the risk of recurrence, and, whenever possible, prevents or decreases the risk of adverse long-term and late effects of cancer and its treatment.
- Puts you, the person with cancer, at the center as an active participant in your cancer care.
- Is grounded in evidence or best practices in patient care.
- Is anchored in health and healing, focusing where possible on enhancing your innate capacity to heal physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Conventional care is the care you’ll receive from conventionally trained physicians (also called allopathic or Western medicine physicians) and most hospitals. Conventional approaches include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and other treatments.
Self care, also called lifestyle medicine, includes your practices and behaviors regarding diet, exercise, relaxation, and more.
Complementary care adds to or “complements” conventional care and includes supplements and other natural products, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, energy therapies, special diets, and more.
Integrative cancer care promotes healing
An integrative cancer care approach can reduce your side effects, increase your resilience, and/or prevent or delay recurrence, and potentially extend your life. Conventional, complementary, and self care may affect your cancer experience or impact cancer directly in several ways.
Improves treatment outcomes
Improving treatment outcomes involves promoting survival, reducing metastases, slowing or reversing tumor growth, or reducing tumor markers. Conventional treatments offer the best option for cure or remission for many types of cancer. Wise use of complementary and self care may enhance the effectiveness of conventional treatments. They may also provide support when conventional treatments are not a good choice—such as when potential harms outweigh the expected benefits—or are not available.
Optimizes body terrain
All three approaches—conventional care, self care, and complementary care—can contribute to creating an environment within your body that is less supportive of cancer development, growth, or spread. Integrative, naturopathic, and functional medicine physicians and professionals tend to emphasize and help you balance your body terrain. Conventional medicine places less emphasis here. You can be an active player in this area, as self care is central to optimizing your body terrain.
Side effects commonly experienced with conventional treatment can often be reduced or even avoided with complementary and self-care approaches. Complementary therapies are also less likely than conventional therapies to cause side effects when used for treating anxiety, vomiting, sleep disruption, and other common situations. Complementary and self-care approaches can enhance your overall quality of life and general well-being.
Reduces cancer risk
Conventional, complementary and self care can work together to reduce your risk of cancer, recurrence, or a secondary cancer. Complementary and integrative cancer care tend to place more ongoing emphasis and effort here than conventional care.
Supports whole person healing
Complementary and self care can support your mental, emotional, and spiritual levels of healing, typically more so than conventional care.
Offers grounded hope
If conventional options are limited for your type or stage of cancer, complementary and self care can offer additional avenues for healing and potentially extend and expand your life.
Words of guidance
Read words of inspiration and guidance from Michael Lerner, CancerChoices co-founder and author of Choices in Healing.
I hope this letter finds you as well as you can be. You are reading this because you or someone you care about has cancer.
My father and mother both had cancer. So did my wife and so did a half-sister. My brother is a senior oncologist at Boston Medical Center.
I’ve spent 40 of my almost 80 years on this beautiful earth helping people I care about put together their own unique approaches to integrativen cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care, and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care.
I’ve led over 210 week-long retreats for people with cancer. I wrote a groundbreaking book on integrative cancer care. I’ve helped start a global network of healing circles for people with cancer.
I strongly believe in conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy cancer treatments. But I know from deep experience that it’s wise to take a thoughtful approach with conventional treatments, and that conventional treatment alone is not enough.
That’s why my friends and I have dedicated years of intensive work to creating CancerChoices—to give you the best guidance we can on integrative cancer care.
CancerChoices is not finished yet. It may never be finished. The field of conventional cancer medicine keeps moving forward—and so does integrative cancer care.
But we are ready to share with you what we’ve got—and we ask for your wisdom about how to make CancerChoices even better.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What is the difference between conventional cancer treatment and integrative cancer care? And why should you care?
It’s simple. You should care because you will very likely do better with integrative cancer care than with conventional cancer treatment alone.
Why? Conventional cancer treatments—such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation—are often not easy.
The stronger, healthier, and more resilient you are, the more likely you are to do better with the conventional treatments. Common sense self carelifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress and complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture cancer therapies build strength and resilience.
For example, if you get good exercise, eat well, sleep well, reduce your stress levels, and find the support you need, you are simply very likely to do better with your conventional treatments.
Integrative care = conventional treatments + self care + complementary care.
It’s as simple as that.
We’re here to make it easy for you to do better with your conventional treatments with self care + complementary care that are supported by good science.
We have divided your choices into three sections: Choices in Healing, Integrative Cancer Care, and How to Integrate Your Choices. Here is the outline of these choices.
- Choices in Healing
- Integrative Cancer Care
- What is integrative cancer care?
- Choices in conventional treatments
- Choices in self care (Our 7 Healing Practices and lifestyle choices)
- Choices in complementary therapies (supplements, off-label drugs, and more)
- How to Integrate Your Choices
You won’t necessarily follow this order, but the simplest approach to integrative care is:
- Decide on conventional therapies.
- Add simple self care to feel better, sleep better, and get stronger.
- Then add some science-based supplements and other complementary approaches.
But first of all—at the very start, even before you choose your conventional therapies, it is especially important to ask yourself what your goals are.
- Do you want to live at all costs, no matter how difficult the treatments?
- Are you more concerned with quality of life?
- What matters now in your life?
Have you told your family and your doctor what matters now to you?
One thing we promise you. We try to be as objective as possible about all forms of cancer care. We aren’t promoting anything. No one pays or influences us. We’re a free resource for you—and those who care for you.
We want you to know what we wish our loved ones had known going through cancer. We know it would have made a difference for them. We hope it does for you.
Wishing you well,
Whole Person Cancer Care
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