Nurses Guide to Integrative Oncology

CancerChoices is a resource for oncology professionals and healthcare professionals who want a balanced assessment of complementary therapies and lifestyle practices in cancer care. This guide is a portal for information and resources for oncology nurses.

Welcome and introduction

Oncology nurses have been taught to care for people, not just treat diseases. Imagine being able to build upon what you already innately know with additional knowledge and resources to inform and guide your patients to integrate evidence-based complementary therapies and self care (lifestyle) practices with their conventional cancer care. This is integrative oncology.

If you are or feel called to be one of the “go to” people for information, resources, and guidance on integrative whole-person care, you’re in the right place. Get comfortable, take four slow deep breaths, then dive into learning about integrative oncology and where you as an oncology nurse fit in this whole-person approach to cancer care.

About CancerChoices

We are an independent, no-cost, science-backed resource helping people with cancer, caregivers, and healthcare providers understand choices in integrative cancer care.

The CancerChoices team synthesizes the research on complementary therapies and provides digital handbooks on a wide range of topics, including eating well and other self-care practices, managing side effects and symptoms, and much more. Support to find healing and meaning within the cancer experience is at the heart of CancerChoices.

CancerChoices considers what’s important to the whole person and recognizes each person’s innate ability to heal. CancerChoices is 

  • A trusted resource, rated highest of 11 websites for trustworthiness and quality of information on complementary cancer therapies in an independent review conducted by researchers from the NCI ›
  • Evidence-based
  • Objective, receiving no funding from manufacturers or retailers of complementary therapies
  • Curated
  • Continually updated

Why oncology nurses?

Do you ever notice that some of your patients come to you first when they have questions about a complementary therapy or self-care practice? Maybe they’re thinking about trying something, or they’re already doing something that they’ve been “afraid” to tell their oncologist. They go to you first for lots of reasons. You’re the one spending time teaching them about treatment, assessing them on each treatment visit, and supporting them throughout. They see you as knowledgeable and competent. And they sense that you’re doing more than giving care—you’re caring for them in a deeper way, a way we nurses call holistic. When patients say “I love my oncology nurse” (which they often do), they mean it. 

Because of your expert care and your sincere caring, your patients trust you. Patients often rate nurses as the most trustworthy, honest, approachable people on the medical team.1Saad L. Military brass, judges among professions at new image lows. Gallup. January 12, 2022. Viewed October 24, 2023; Brenan M, Jones JM. Ethics Ratings of Nearly All Professions Down in U.S. Gallup. January 22, 2024. Viewed February 5, 2024.

  • They count on you to listen without judging or cutting them off.
  • They trust you to be honest if you don’t know the answer. 
  • They count on you to help them find trustworthy information so they can make informed choices in whole person cancer care. 

Your other team members also trust you when you advocate for a patient who comes to you not only for treatment, but also to be treated as a whole person.

“As navigation evolves, all individuals working in [nurse] navigator roles will need to be well-versed in helping patients to identify and access integrative therapy resources throughout their cancer experience.”

Cindi Cantril, MPH, RN, OCN, CBCN, and Pamela Haylock, PhD, RN, FAAN
from Patient navigation in the oncology care setting

Author

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Reviewers

Susan Yaguda, MSN, RN

Manager at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute and CancerChoices Clinical Consultant
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Susan Yaguda, MSN, RN, has been a nurse for nearly 40 years, working in a variety of healthcare settings. She currently works in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute as the manager for Integrative Oncology and Cancer Survivorship. She works with a multidisciplinary team to deliver holistic, evidence-based support and education for patients and care partners at any point along the trajectory of cancer care. She completed the Integrative Oncology Scholars Program through the University of Michigan in 2020, is certified as an Integrative Health Coach through Duke Integrative Medicine and has a post-graduate certificate in Nursing Education from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Susan also was awarded the Planetree International Scholar’s Award in 2018 and was recognized by the Daisy Foundation for Nurse Leadership in 2021. Susan has a particular interest in empowering patients and care partners with knowledge to help drive informed decision making and educating nurses on the benefits of integrative care for patients and self-care. She has presented nationally and internationally on integrative oncology and nursing education.

She and her husband, Mark, have two adult children and a very spoiled foxhound. She enjoys hiking, knitting, cooking, and pickleball.

“As a frequent consumer of Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, and now CancerChoices, for both professional education and patient support, it is an honor to have the opportunity to engage with the dedicated team at CancerChoices to serve those impacted by this disease.”  

 

Susan Yaguda, MSN, RN Manager at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute and CancerChoices Clinical Consultant

Miki Scheidel

Co-Founder and Creative Director
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Miki Scheidel is Co-founder and creative director of CancerChoices. She led the effort to transform Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, the prior version of CancerChoices, to its current form. Miki and her family were deeply affected by her father’s transformative experience with integrative approaches to metastatic kidney cancer. That experience inspires her work as president of the Scheidel Foundation and as volunteer staff at CancerChoices. She previously worked with the US Agency for International Development and Family Health International among other roles. She received her graduate degree in international development from Georgetown University, a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Gettysburg College.

Miki Scheidel Co-Founder and Creative Director

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher

Melissa Oprish

Communication and Outreach Lead
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Melissa Oprish brings several years of experience working in marketing, content creation, and writing with a focus on wellness, parenting, and food. Melissa has been closely touched by cancer through her husband’s diagnosis and believes deeply in the power of not just physical healing, but spiritual and emotional healing as well. Melissa’s educational background is in sociology and marketing with a recent certification in holistic nutrition.

Melissa Oprish Communication and Outreach Lead

Last update: February 12, 2024

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in 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. We review 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 therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

This guide was funded by Jonas Philanthropies, Inc.

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