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All of the parts create the whole. This applies to every human body, but when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1998, at age 24, I did not consciously connect those dots.
Since then, I've survived an intense journey, and learned how to apply the idea of holistic health to cancer care for optimal health and healing. This kind of treatment addresses the whole person – body, mind and spirit, including social and environmental health. It also improves quality of life and cancer survival. Many cancer study results show the findings.
So how do cancer patients create an integrative cancer care plan? Here are some tips to help you:
1. Ask for support.
Hopefully you immediately receive some help as you begin your cancer journey. Identifying what you need is really important. Think about family and friends who can assist you. You might find surprises. Some people may give you more than you expect, and others may not show up. Seek knowledge about health and healing from new contacts, too. Other cancer social support systems include in-person, by telephone, and online services. Being proactive is important.
2. Give yourself self-care.
Before you start research and through your healing path, use ways to relax yourself. You must feel calm enough to access options, navigate cancer, and when possible living your life also with joy.
3. Collect basic cancer information if possible.
Find basic information about your cancer diagnosis and recommendations for treatments. Also have your cancer type reviewed at another institution.
4. Consult with a cancer coach.
One-on-one support services through a cancer coach can help in many ways, including research of cancer treatments, help with any and all components of integrative cancer care, and navigation through the cancer journey. Hire someone with this expertise.
5. Research your cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment options.
Explore cancer information resources through government agencies, non-profit organizations, PubMed, other online databases, and journals. Know that a lot of variability exists between cancer types, treatments, and providers.
6. Develop questions to evaluate cancer treatments and providers.
As you research, create a list of quality questions for your research. Quality cancer questions assess safety and efficacy of cancer treatments, levels of evidence, qualifications of cancer providers including integrity, and other topics. Learn how to thoroughly research treatments and providers for informed decisions.
7. Research multiple oncologists, and ultimately choose one.
Learn about oncologists with expertise in your cancer diagnosis, especially since cancer treatment recommendations vary. Choose several oncologists to collect multiple opinions. After consulting with several providers and also confirming your cancer diagnosis, select your oncologist. The optimal situation would be to have an integrative oncologist in your tumor type. But, very few oncologists apply quality integrative cancer care knowledge and skills.
8. Find providers for whole body cancer care.
You will most likely need integrative providers with tremendous education about cancer and the entire physical body. Consider integrative cancer medicine systems in functional medicine, naturopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine. Aspects for cancer evaluations and sometimes therapies include the immune system, inflammation, sugar levels, vitamin levels, circadian rhythms, neurotransmitters, nervous system, digestion, and more unhealthy components in the body.
9. Support your mind-body health.
The mind and body are one. Your mental and emotional inner life support your health and healing. Optimize your mind-body balance and vitality through self-care and providers. Strategies include massage, meditation, imagery, breathing techniques, movement, biofeedback, creative expression, and psychological support.
10. Tend to your spirit.
The spiritual dimensions of life often become more prominent when dealing with cancer. A deeper internal and external relationship with spirit and spirituality offers profound dimensions for healing. The spirit’s connection to the soul also provides insights into the true self.
11. Improve your environment.
With countless chemicals associated with cancer, actions must be taken to safeguard against contaminants. Create a healthier green environment with non-toxic personal care products, household cleaning, air and water purification, and protection against other everyday exposures.
12. Focus on what you love and trust instead of fear.
Give your attention to your passions. Your expressed joy will help ground you in yourself, give strength through any challenges, and activations of your innate capacity. Focusing your attention on what you love will bring light to you within. Feel your strength. Trust
The process takes time breath by breath, step by step, and chapter by chapter. Cultivate your foundation. Build your team. Continue to support your precious, powerful health and healing daily through self-care. Embrace your deeper essence. Love yourself. Live your life more to the fullest.
How will you create an integrative cancer care plan?