What's In Your Treatment Box?

20 years ago now I was a Naturopathic Medicine resident, in the final year of a full time, 4-year post-graduate degree. I completed the Naturopathic Physician Licensing Exams (NPLEX) and obtained my licensure in Ontario, Canada. It wasn't until 6 more years in general family practice that I decided to specialize in Oncology. This condition and the people with cancer chose me for various reasons ranging from the cancer-belt geography of where I was practicing at the time, my interest in the details of biological signals and the metabolic effects on the body, and wanting to do more for people who were living with cancer at all ages and stages and dealing with side effects and quality of life issues that were crushing them. Immunotherapy and its targets were still research-based/in trials. There had to be, and there is, more than just the conventional trilogy of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for people with cancer. When I was diagnosed with my cancer in 2020, I chose surgery but you can be sure I was also using all evidence based supportive care options before and after to reduce risk of recurrence and promote recovery. You can say I am biased to this approach by my personal and professional experience, its ok.

Before, during and after the start of conventional treatment, there has ALWAYS been botanical medicine, nutrition, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and homeopathy to name a few systems of health care and treatment that existed for all health conditions, including cancer. This never was, and is still not 'outside-the-box' stuff, unless your 'box' is defined as conventional treatment.

This does not mean they were more effective or better, though in some cases that may be true. It means that the combination of conventional (inside the box) and pre-conventional (outside the box) oncology treatment adds up to better side effect management and better quality of life for a person actively undergoing cancer treatment. Research over the next two decades established these benefits and integrative cancer centers full of the above treatment options now exist as a result.

With the knowledge from my Naturopathic Medicine degree and the ongoing education, I set out way back in 2002 to help in every way that the evidence indicated an effect on cancer metabolism. The evidence came from studies published outside North America for the most part. At the same time, I obtained Certification for nutritional IV therapies in 2003, training in Germany for Mistletoe therapy in 2010 and again in 2021, obtained the Naturopathic Oncology Board Certification in 2010 and recertified in 2020 (FABNO) and attended a lot of conventional and alternative oncology conferences all over North America. There is always more to learn and I love that about oncology - nothing stays the same in treatment as new research results come out. It was hard work at the start, as there was little support for patients. Not all family members and oncology centers accepted what their loved ones/patients and I were trying to do with their conventional approach:

  1. Support the conventional treatment to that make it more effective.

  2. Reduce the conventional treatment side effects and support the body so the patient doesn't have a dose reduction or treatment delay as these can affect survival.

  3. Help the immune system regain its ability to fight cancer cells.

  4. Use objective data, such as imaging and lab results from specialized testing to guide our treatment recommendations.

From the above guideposts I developed evidence based protocols for side effect management for different types of chemo and radiation therapy, surgery preparation and recovery protocols, and weight maintenance/gain protocols that didn't involve eating nefarious calories that increased cachexia, inflammation and risk of recurrence, but a nutritional intake that promoted an anti-inflammatory effect. Over the years the research on many things such as circulating inflammatory markers, yoga, meditation, alkalinity and pH, special diets, coffee enemas, detoxification, radiation, surgery, infrared lasers, heat therapy and saunas, electromagnetic fields, pulsed electric current, curcumin, inflammation, mistletoe, Vitamin C, oncogenic markers and targeted and immunotherapies and more was published for all to read. Where it was supported in the evidence I would add that to the protocols and reference it for patients and their oncologists to review.

As the research also produced results indicating that there were targetable metabolic signals and drugs that can be made for those targets, it affirmed that a Naturopathic Oncologists' approach to cancer was very much in step: Find the metabolic or cellular switch that turns on cancer cell replication, and, using another metabolic agent, shut it off/turn it down/force its cellular demise using the body's immune system. This is a very granular explanation of how my work is done. I also make individualized protocols to go beyond that cell and treat the whole person, and support the body's fight against this disease after treatment is completed. This work is about recovery from treatment and recurrence prevention. This work is much more personalized to the patient and these protocols are very different from the side effect management and surgery recovery protocols.

Now cancer treatment is no longer a combination of just three conventional treatment options. This is a very good thing, as options change with research results and this allows us to accept treatment outside the trilogy treatment box. There are many ways to target a dysfunctional cell that replicated and formed a tumor. If these additional treatment options do no harm, and they have a beneficial effect for the patient, it doesn't require a double-blind, placebo controlled study to determine the next steps. There are many ways that have existed for a long time that go beyond the treatment trilogy that can improve quality of life and reduce side effects. As a board certified Naturopathic Oncologist, I use advanced integrative knowledge and therapy recommendations for every type and stage of cancer, in addition to encouraging the conventional treatment options for patients. If this approach is something that resonates with you, now is the time to build your integrative cancer treatment support plan with my experience and knowledge. Read more about my practice. Schedule your intake appointment. Send this to someone you know who has cancer.

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