It was important to me to take an active role in my health when I got diagnosed and explore all different types of healing to complement my medical cancer care plan. To me that meant finding ways to heal and strengthen my whole person - mind, body, and spirit.
After having surgery to remove my tumor following my brain cancer diagnosis, my medical team put together a comprehensive treatment plan including combined chemotherapy and brain radiation. There was a clear plan of attack for killing cancer cells, but I was left wanting to take greater control to support myself. I decided to take an active role and find out ways I could further help my body heal. I wanted to find a whole-person approach that would search deeper and tell me more about what was going on in the rest of my body. I found various Integrative & Naturopathic specialists to get various opinions on how to best complement my Standard of Care plan run by my amazing medical team.
Integrative Naturopathic Medicine is an integration of conventional and holistic or alternative modalities (such as herbs, homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, etc.), It is healing-oriented and takes into account the whole person (body, mind & spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.
A Naturopath is a medically-trained professional who incorporates eastern and western healing philosophies into their practice. They are focused on integrated care – meaning seeing the person as an entire working system. For me, it was critical I was in the care of additional professionals who were looking at my entire, whole being closer since my cancer treatment looked solely at my brain and not the rest of my body (or my emotional-mental health).
They run tests and diagnostics to best understand what’s happening in our bodies on a deeper level than the standard panel measuring blood cell counts. There was something going on deeper with how my body was running and my immune system not doing its job so I wanted to include every possible resource at my treatment to understand what was happening, and how I could get myself healthy and strong.
I met my Naturopath early in the process of my treatment. Right away more tests and panels were ordered. The Naturopath wanted to get to the root of why I was here: why was my immune system so compromised that I got one of the deadliest cancers at 36 years old? How could this have happened when I was deemed so “healthy?” What was happening in my body?
I tested positive for Epstein Barr and Cytomegalovirus and also discovered high levels of mold and heavy metals. Was this why I got cancer? Probably not but it definitely didn’t help and addressing these underlying issues would help my body heal the cancer faster – and stay healthy. Viruses never leave our bodies, and so many of us have them dormant or active in our systems. There’s mounting evidence suggesting that viruses in the body can trigger conditions and diseases like cancer. They can fan the flames of inflammation, which researchers are now relating to many chronic conditions, and hinder our immune system’s ability to fight. Information is power and knowing this helped me prioritize keeping my immune system strong and incorporating herbs to keep the virus at bay.
To complement my medical care plan, my Naturopath created a parallel protocol for me focused on boosting my immune system and supporting my body to get through treatment. This included supplements like Curcumin and Boswellia that helped with inflammation and a variety of immune supplements focused on support and detoxification. I also began making changes to my home environment to rid as many toxins as I could. We began using air purifiers at home, removing toxic cleaning and personal care products, and changing my diet to focus on nutrients that I was deficient in and reducing inflammation. It could only help, so why not make these small positive changes?
I believe it is also important to get retested annually and to monitor how my body is reacting to the changes I’ve made in my diet, environment and supplementation. Tracking this data has proven to me that the changes are working and how to continue to best support myself. My cancer has been stable for 3.5 years (and counting!)
If you are in cancer treatment, or have any chronic ailment, I highly consider having a Naturopath as an additional resource. Your standard medical team will be very focused on eliminating or managing the disease – but their role stops there. Getting to the root causes of imbalances or testing for overall body health won’t really happen outside of what the cancer touches. A Naturopath is also a great resource for after cancer care to ensure your body is staying healthy and to build a strong immune system moving forward.
In my opinion every person should be monitoring what’s going on holistically in their bodies even when they’re healthy – it’s especially important when you’re dealing with a health crisis.
Always consult with your doctor and medical team before trying anything new so it does not interfere with your cancer care plan.
Check out AANP licensed Naturopathic Physicians here.