Take charge of your treatment and make informed treatment decisions.
Anyone diagnosed with cancer is embarking on a life-altering, bewildering, and sometimes overwhelming journey. Although there may be patterns common to all, your story will be different. It will be your own. It is important that you muster energy to become involved in your healing process.
You will make decision after decision about your treatment and deal with all sorts of medical records, financial statements, bills and insurance plans. At times such tasks may seem endless.
Before you lay the challenge of understanding the medical and technical language of your condition and making decisions for your future health. Therein lies much growth and empowerment.
At times such tasks may seem endless and it’s really helpful to ask for support from trusted friends and family. You may feel paralyzed when it comes to making decisions. It is not uncommon to feel as if you are at the mercy of outside forces, or pressured by the seeming certainty of professional opinions.
Learning as much as you can about the type of cancer you have can help you evaluate your options and ease your fears about the unknown. Treatment option will only work if you, the person with cancer, not only understands it but also feels comfortable with it. By allowing patients to participate in and influence treatment, patient and staff become true partners in the healing process.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, chances are you want to use every resource at your disposal to overcome it. That means working with a wide range of specialists who can help you make informed decisions about your treatment, and who will support you on a variety of options - medical, nutritional, physical, psychological, and spiritual.
Finding the right treatment and treatment supports can be very challenging. You will find that there are many different ways to support your healing. The wealth of information available about the treatment of cancer can be sometimes overwhelming, but it is worthwhile to do a thorough research about the different treatment options.
When diagnosed with cancer, you may not only face an on-going threat to life and well-being, you often also face conflicting recommendations on the part of the best experts in the field and the resulting uncertainty as to the best course of treatment.
Your doctor / oncologist may have talked to you about conventional treatment options, such as radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, or hormone therapy.
But perhaps you would also like to explore complementary therapies, such as nutrition and homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, in addition to conventional treatment. There are studies available that suggest that augmenting your cancer care with non-invasive and natural therapies under the direction of qualified practitioners can enhance your treatment and improve your quality of life.
What is the right choice for one patient may not be the right choice for someone else. In the end, only the patient is in a position to make treatment choices. Opinions from those who care and data from providers may be useful, but the patient has to choose treatment.
It is often that close relatives or friends like to "push" a person with cancer to certain type's of treatment because of their own fear to loose their love ones and the insecurity and fear of the patient, to obey to the pressure.
Each individual’s illness is unique. Treatment for cancer, be it breast cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer or any other form, is the same as any illness in that there are underlying factors for the illness, and these factors differ according to the patient.
I believe it's important to use traditional medicine when it's appropriate and complimentary or alternative medicine when it's appropriate.
An important part of the Hippocratic oath, taken by all doctors, is: First to Do Not Harm.
Have this in you mind when deciding what kind of cancer treatment you want to chose. When you are diagnosed with cancer and you start learning about your options it's very easy to get lost in a myriad of details, suggestions and sometimes even contradicting recommendations.
Remember : What feels right for someone does not appeals to another person - one size doesn't fits all.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler - Ross, MD:
"You do what's right for you. I'm not here to tell you what's good for you, because you know better then I do. I can tell you statistically how many have been helped by this approach or that approach. But you are not a statistics. You're an individual. So go for the method and treatment that feels right to you... and not the one your medical team, husband, friend or family thinks you should do. I will help you with support in whatever way I can. You and your own soul, your inner knowledge and feelings know."
The only person’s opinion that matters in your life, and for your choice of treatment, is your own. To hear it you have to make room for it. Sometime we hesitate or avoid to make decisions out of lack of trust of ourselves. That is when we ask others to intervene, to help us make up our minds. Remember, most people are busy helping themselves; they will help you make a discussion that benefits them. Listen to your own heart.
Do not make a decision for any medical treatment out of your fear or that of your spouse, family, friends, or doctors. Everybody has convincing arguments and tries to fit you into their version of the truth. As long as you don't know how to prioritize all the information and know the real value, you get easily lost and spend a lot more money than necessary.
Is there time?
When you find out you have cancer, you may feel that your life is no longer within your control. As if daily life is turned upside down.
People with cancer often feel the sooner they get rid of the cancer, the better. They may feel like they need to make decisions right away. They may be concerned that extra tests and appointments with other doctors will take time that could be spent treating the cancer.
So how long is too long?
Cancers grow at different rates. Most cancers do not grow very quickly, so there is usually time to gather information about your cancer, talk with all different specialists, both, orthodox and complementary medical ones. Only chose a treatment which you can truly agree to.
Talk with your health care team if you do not want to start your treatment right away.
Keep always in mind that you are not only a patient, you are a Person, who has an illness, i.e. cancer.
Feeling clear and confident about your care helps put your mind at ease and enhances your ability to enter the deeper dimensions of healing. As you search for the best possible professional care, look out for an experienced and compassionate oncologist and or complimentary practitioner whom you trust, who answers your questions fully and patiently and treats you as a person and respects your wishes about Your chosen treatment.
Before you commit yourself to a particular treatment, make sure you understand the details of this treatment. Make sure you ask the following questions.
- Ask questions... ask... ask...ask and be persistent until you feel satisfied and have understood everything you have been told. Ask until you have all the information you feel you need to make an informed decision about your treatment.
- Understanding - ask yourself:
Do I really, truly understand what this knowledge, this information and all these statistics really mean?
Often there is a big distinction between having information and understanding what it means.
Ask yourself: "Do I really understand the implication of choosing this particular treatment"?
Or, "Do I feel I have a sufficient level of understanding to trust my doctor's recommendation, and feeling good going ahead?"
If you are declining a particular treatment, ask yourself: " Do I really understand the consequences of declining this treatment"?
"Do I know and understand what the alternative are, and what is involved in pursuing them?"
"What is the wise thing to do?" What does my deep inner wisdom say to me about these choices?" What is the wisest choice in terms of accomplishing my most important goals in life? For this part of the process you need to enter deeply into silence and listen to your inner wisdom.
- Love and Compassion - ask yourself:
" What is the most loving and compassionate thing to do for myself?"
Be aware of the difference between what might seem most loving and compassionate in the short term, as opposed to what may be most loving and compassionate over a longer period of time.
Be honest with yourself! This is your life and your treatment!
After all the previous questions have been answered it is time for you to tune into your intuition for additional guidance. This is a part of your unconscious mind that can speak from a place beyond logic or rational thought.
( see also: your medical appointment ) Be empowered to make your own decision. Assertiveness is not the same as aggression. Many of us afraid to appear stupid and being judged aggressive if we assert ourselves, and therefore do not speak out for our own needs; as a result we end up feeling frustrated and unheard. Assertiveness means is asking directly and openly for our needs to be heard and respected. This is your body, and you have a right to be the major say in what happens to it.
- Be in Charge - Be an Active Member of your Cancer Care Team
- Take control of your situation, how difficult it may seem.
Do your own research - Be well informed when you have a constructive discussion with your consultant about different treatment options. It is your responsibility for getting the right treatment. You are entitled to know what plans the doctors have for you.
- Dr Rosy Daniel's Cancer Lifeline Kit and Health Creation Programme provides you with excellent information about both, conventional and alternative medicine and will help to prepare yourself you psychological, physically, mentally and spiritual for the journey ahead and for your healing from cancer and your life.
Do not make a decision for any medical treatment out of your fear or that of your spouse, family, friends, or doctors.
Everybody has convincing arguments and tries to fit you into their version of the truth. As long as you don't know how to prioritize all the information and know the real value, you get easily lost and spend a lot more money than necessary.
Learn all about your different treatment choices and your particular kind of cancer.
Get a second or third opinion.
Seek out information about complementary medicine care.
Because most doctors are unaware of complementary medicine and alternative therapies they put pressure on patients to have medical treatment, which is sometimes out of proportion to the true benefits of receiving such treatment.
If you considering treatments that are beyond your doctors field of expertise you might find that some doctors will not consider them as a worthy alternative and might will influence you into looking only at he conventional treatments if you try to discuss integrating alternative treatment with your doctor you may encounter a number of reactions, ranging from dismissal to an outright declaration that what you are considering is dangerous, wasting money or rubbish.
If the doctor dismiss the treatments of your choice, you can always ask him how much he or she actually know about the treatment and on what evidence he is basing his opinion.
The decisions about treatment are yours alone to make. Your health is now your top priority.
Decide that you are in charge of your life, because you will undoubtedly find others - a doctor, a spouse, a friend - wanting to make decisions on your behalf, “all for the best” of course as they see it. However, it is Your Body, it is Your Mind, it is Your Cancer, it is Your Healing Journey.
Before you commit yourself to a particular treatment make sure that you really understand both the benefits and the side - effects that you may experience. Understanding your medical care is important to achieving the best outcome.
Avoid a hasty decision about your treatment. If fear is the driver behind the decision-making about your treatment, you can enter a vicious cycle from which it will be difficult to escape from. Feeling clear and confident about your care helps put your mind at ease and enhances your ability to enter the deeper dimensions of healing.
DO NOT SIGN A BLANK CONSENT FORM!
You should fully understand the exact procedure that is to be performed. The doctor not the nurse or the assistant, but the doctor - is obligated to explain to you the purpose of the procedure, the risks involved, the risks of not having the procedure and any other alternatives - in words you can understand!
You have the right to take the time to read this form completely and ask questions. As many times as you need to in order to fully understand what you are consenting to. You have the right to cross out statements you do not agree to. Remember that consent means voluntary agreement. You should not feel pressured into signing something you did not take the time to read or understand because someone is standing at the foot of your bed waiting for your signature. Let them wait!
Exercise your right to be in control of your situation and not be helpless. These are important decisions only you can make for yourself. You don't want to wake up from that procedure to find out it wasn't what you "expected." You don't want to hear yourself saying, "I should have asked, but.... " Maintain your sense of free choice and self-respect, read and understand the informed consent form!
Many proponents of alternative therapies insist that people will have far better outcomes if they use natural medicines alone. However, this can place the individual under acute pressure to decide which camp to join. The decision to use one model of therapy in preference to another must be thought carefully and taken on an absolute individual basis.
If this is your decision, then you need to be prepared to state this very clearly and assertively and repeat it as long as it is necessary to your medical team, family and friends. You may be will receive criticism from all or one of them and they may think you are committing suicide.
You need to ask yourself if you are strong enough to face this criticism and who will support you about your decision. Some consultants and GP's will be more understanding and support your "No thank you" to conventional treatment, then others.
In cases in which the cancer is low grade and in its early stages, the individual has time on their side and may opt to work with complementary medicine and alternative therapies alone for a period and then decide for themselves whether or not achieving stabilization or regression of their disease.
You still need to work hard to change the underlying conditions in your body that allowed the cancer to develop in the first place. Removing the tumor does not mean that you have removed the underlying causes for your cancer.
It may be advisable to remove the tumor if their is a risk that it will break through the skin or posing a threat locally to the nervous or arterial tissues. In such cases, urgent medical intervention may be required to safe life or prevent disability.
The best course of action for those with this dilemma is to talk to a holistic doctor, who might will help you to evaluate realistically which option or combination of options would be best for you when all the various factors and personal views are taken into consideration. In this way, it is hoped that you will be able to decide on a course of action that honours your personal needs and keeps you as safe as possible.
However, if this is not your wish, I suggest that you get ongoing support from a GP to monitor your health and your cancer. If No to conventional treatment is your choice I advice you that you look out for an experience cancer mentor / or and an transpersonal therapist and homeopath who can support you on your journey through cancer. You might would like to work with the Health Creation Programme.
Decide that you are in charge of your life and of your treatment, because you will undoubtedly find others - a doctor, a spouse, a friend - wanting to make decisions on your behalf, “all for the best” of course as they see it.
Remember that you have the right to a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment. Asking for a second opinion does not mean that you don’t like or trust your doctor. Doctors understand you need to feel that all options for the best treatment are being explored. You can also ask whether your doctor has talked with other specialists at the treatment center.
Current Medical Treatments for Cancer
Involves the removal of a visible tumor and is the most frequently used cancer treatment. It is most effective when a cancer is small and confined to one area of the body.
Kills tumor cells. Radiation is used alone in cases where a tumor is unsuitable for surgery. More often, it is used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy.
Is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It destroys the hard-to-detect cancer cells that have spread and are circulating in the body. Chemotherapeutic drugs can be taken either orally or intravenously, and may be given alone or in conjunction with surgery, radiation, or both.
Uses the body's own immune system to destroy cancer cells. This form of treatment is being intensively studied in clinical trials and is not yet widely available to most cancer patients.
Is standard treatment for some types of cancers that are hormone-dependent and grow faster in the presence of particular hormones. These include cancer of the prostate, breast, and uterus. Hormone therapy involves blocking the production or action of these hormones. As a result, the growth of the tumor slows down and survival may be extended for several months or years.
- Bone marrow transplantation
Is the removal of marrow from one person and the transplant of the blood-forming cells either to the same person or to someone else. Bone marrow transplantation, while not a therapy in itself, is often used to rescue a patient, by allowing those with cancer to undergo very aggressive therapy.
There are newer treatment approaches available and other cancer treatments in development.
It is important that you explore as best as you can all your option and get information on the different treatments, both, orthodox and alternative ones. A major problem both patients and doctors are facing is the false hope raised by many so called "breakthroughs". Often these release stories tend to become exaggerated. Make sure that you find out about the source of the "breakthrough - story", i.e. was the story released by a pharmaceutical company, was the new wonder drug tested in people or only in the laboratory on animals, is the breakthrough still in the test - tube?
"Integrative Medicine" means that the best of conventional medicine is integrated with the best of complementary and alternative therapies.
I believe that the goal is to move toward integrative healthcare-where the best of both conventional therapies and healing practices are available to all, and providers from both work together for the best patient outcome.
Integrative medicine is a total approach to care that involves the patient's mind, body, and spirit, social and environmental aspect. All of your health and life are constantly interacting together, influencing one another, and interdependently shaping who you are.
It combines standard medicine with the CAM practices that have shown the most promise. It is treating you and your body far beyond the symptoms of a particular illness. Integrative medicine is the most logical approach to wellness.
Integrative healthcare utilizes the best therapeutic options from conventional Western medicine, as well as complementary therapies and healing practices.
The timing on integrating healing practices into cancer care will vary.
- For some, immediate conventional treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, are generally the highest priority. Complementary/integrative options might not even be considered until after completion of those interventions.
- For others, the interest in integrative therapies arises as they move through conventional care, perhaps motivated by side effects or challenges to their quality of life.
- For yet others, immediately considering an integrative approach will be a primary concern. As with all integration, communication is critical for avoiding any negative interactions, or interference, between treatments.
While integrative healthcare offers great benefits, you do need to take an active role in educating yourself about the full spectrum of conventional and complementary therapies.
Consider time and money
Integration does not mean that you need to pursue all therapies simultaneously. It is important to prioritize your choices so that you achieve the best outcome.
With a serious diagnosis, such as cancer, immediate conventional interventions like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation may take all of your time and energy. Some integrative approaches can be supportive in those situations, like mind/body practices for easing pain or anxiety, or nutrition to optimize your stamina.
In addition, you should consider your ability to access and pay for the therapies. All of our resources are limited. If access to healing practices and complementary therapies is important to you, remember them when (and if) you make choices about insurance plans. These may give you more flexibility and control over your therapeutic options.
Generally, prescription pharmaceuticals are more expensive than most natural products and over-the-counter substances, but if you have prescription drug coverage in your insurance, the out-of-pocket expense to you may be less with a prescription. These aren't the best reasons to choose one intervention over another, but they are considerations most of us can't afford to ignore.
Complementary medicine works in tandem with traditional cancer treatment to create a balanced wellness plan.
More and more people are recognizing the importance of supporting the body, mind, and spirit with natural, non-invasive therapies. In fact, about 70% of people with cancer use some form of complementary medicine, such as dietary supplementation or nutritional therapy, alongside their conventional treatment.
Complementary medicine (CM) is used along with standard medical treatments and refers to a wide variety of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual techniques that benefits at all points in the journey through cancer.
These include: Homeopathy, Herbal medicine, Anti - cancer Nutrients, Diet - Nutritional Therapy, Mind - Body Medicine, Acupuncture, Hormone Therapy, Metabolic therapy Immunotherapy, Physical Therapy, and much more.
In this way they complement conventional medication. Where conventional medicine concentrates solely on destroying the symptoms of disease, suppressing associated processes, and replacing missing substances (e.g. vitamins, hormones, blood elements), CM, wherever possible and sensible, aims to enable the human organism to overcome a disease through its own resources.
Cooperation between disciplines is at the heart of the CM philosophy. Homeopath and Naturopathic practitioners often collaborate with and refer people to conventional medical doctors for diagnosis or treatment.
Complementary medicine seeks to support the body’s immune system and natural healing processes and treat the root causes of illness rather than the symptoms alone. In cancer treatment, these techniques can help ease unpleasant side effects and enhance the effectiveness of conventional therapies, potentially contributing to the success of your treatment.
CM therapies, e.g Homeopathy, aim to identify and treat the root causes of the illness, including its physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological dimensions — rather than just eradicate symptoms. Psychological, emotional, and spiritual factors all play a role in your health, but most conventional treatments only address physical concerns.
Complementary therapies can also reduce side effects, promote overall wellness, and focus on your comfort, making conventional treatment more bearable. CAM therapies themselves are often pleasant, since they’re usually natural, non-toxic, and minimally invasive.
For example, Homeopathy can be helpful to eliminate side effects of conventional cancer treatment and support your energy and immune system.
Homeopathy and Naturopathic Medicine
Homeopathic medicine is by definition holistic. This means that Homeopathic practitioners evaluate all aspects of your well-being, including your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. At the core of the naturopathic tradition is the belief that a healthy lifestyle is the cornerstone of physical well-being.
In addition to treating the symptoms of disease, homeopathic and naturopathic medicine seeks to identify and treat the underlying causes of illness.
Homeopathic and naturopathic medicine promotes lifestyle habits that strengthen the immune system and prevent illness.
Homeopathic and naturopathic practitioners work with the people in their care to educate and empower them to take control of their health.
Studies show that, when used in conjunction with conventional treatment, homeopathy can improve the outlook for many people with cancer. Oncologists do their best to identify and eliminate any cancer cells in your body. A Homeopath or Naturopathic practitioner complements an oncologist’s work by recommending natural, non-invasive therapies that can improve the effectiveness of conventional treatment, minimize side effects, and help you take charge of your health in whichever ways you can.
The patient is cared for as a whole human being, body, soul and spirit. Nutritional guidance, life study counseling, and other natural remedies are used as well as supportive CM therapies.
Homeopaths and other CM practitioners, first of all, tend to spend much more time with their patients, particularly during the initial visit.
Every patient is considered unique, and a Homeopathic practitioner use the first visit to get a broad understanding of patients and their medical histories. For instance, the first visit may include perceptions on body language, a detailed personal history, a detailed discussion about dietary habits, observations about breathing, posture, and many other aspects – all of which determine an individual’s personality.
Are used in place of standard medical treatments, for example: Burzinski, Hoxey method, Gerson Method,High -dose of intravenous vitamin C, Iscador (mistletoe extract, Latrile, Hyperoxygenation therapy, Macrobiotic diet.
Eastern Healing Traditions -
refer to the ancient healing methods of India (Ayuveda), China (Traditional Chinese Medicine)and Tibet (Tibetan Medicine), among others.
Mind/body therapies may have whole body impacts that are meaningful but difficult to measure scientifically. These therapies provide an internal sense of mastery, enable greater flexibility in emotions and beliefs, and empower individuals to make comprehensive lifestyle changes that were previously unobtainable.
Research has supported their use in many different subsets of cancer patients.
- Yoga has been shown to improve quality of life and sleep, while also decreasing anxiety.
- Hypnosis decreases anxiety.
- Meditation decreases anxiety, improves pain tolerance, and improves sleep.
- Support groups improve quality of life and may impact actual longevity.
This category includes practices such as healing touch, therapeutic touch, Reiki, acupressure, Qi Gong, and others. These practices are delivered through the hands, with intent to raise the amount of universal life energy (qi or ch'i) and balance the energy flow within the body by unblocking or removing disturbances within the body's energy paths.
Proponents claim that the blockage or disturbance of the body's energy paths is associated with illness, weakness, and pain. Energy medicine practitioners focus on realigning and strengthening the flow of energy in order to decrease pain, ease muscle tension, speed healing, improve sleep, and generally enhance the body's natural ability to heal itself.
Some research on cancer patients has found improved fatigue and quality of life through these techniques.
Acupuncture, as used within the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, may have multiple impacts on both the cancer itself and on symptom management in ways that is not well understood.
There is ample evidence indicating that acupuncture prevents the nausea associated with chemotherapy and post- operatively from anesthesia.
- Do I feel comfortable with this the doctor or complementary medicine therapist?
- Do I like how the office looks and feels?
- Does the doctor supports complementary medicine as part of the standard cancer treatments?
- Does the doctor has extended training in complementary medicine, i.e. Nutrition, Homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Herbal medicine?
- Does the complementary therapist has training and experience to support me and my caregiver on my journey through cancer?
- Does my doctor and complementary therapist are willing to work together to provide the best care for me?
- How far am I willing to travel for treatment?
- Is it easy to get an appointment?
- Are the hours good for me?
- Will insurance cover the cost for my medical treatment and of CAM?
- What types of CAM do you practice?
- What are your training and qualifications?
- Will you work with my doctor?
- Do you know of studies that prove it helps?
- What are the risks and side effects?
- Will this interfere with my cancer treatment?
- How long will I be on the therapy?
- Do you have information that I can read about it?
- Are there any reasons why I should not use it?
There is a lot of information on CAM, so it's important to go to sources you can trust.
The Internet can be a great resource for information about cancer and places to go for treatment. But you may feel overwhelmed by the quantity of sometimes conflicting information. And some resources may be out-of-date, incorrect, or simply misleading.
It’s best to think of the Internet as the springboard to a meaningful conversation you can have with your doctor, CM practitioner and other members of your healthcare team.
Be careful of products advertised by people or companies that:
- Make claims that they have a "cure";
- Do not give specific information about how well their product works.