My wife Susan was only 35, and the mother of three young children, when she discovered she had breast cancer for the first time. While I was looking for cures, Susan wanted to weigh the treatment recommendations against her values and goals for a meaningful life.
Back then, oncologists did not make recommendations on integrating a healthy lifestyle, including social support or complementary medicine, with conventional breast cancer care. Had Susan been encouraged to exercise, eat healthy food and engage in major stress management, some of the long-term problems from her treatments that she experiences today could have been reduced.
Now, discussion about nutrition, yoga classes, acupuncture and support groups for cancer patients are common. Doctors acknowledge the role of healthy behavior in surviving cancer and improving quality of life.
But most doctors aren’t trained in how to use behavioral or complementary approaches to help cancer patients. Advances in the science of healthy behavior are still not integrated into the delivery of cancer care. The topic of supplements is usually completely avoided.
The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) is a place where mainstream oncologists together with experts in complementary medicine explore the integration of healing practices with cure-focused treatments in cancer and improvement in quality of life. I put together a resource that includes their recommendations.
Download my Integrative Approaches to Breast Cancer Guide. Many of the recommendations apply to other types of cancer also.
If you have patients, family or friends coping with cancer, please share it with them. This guide covers complementary and lifestyle approaches that can be used along with conventional cancer treatments. This is called integrative breast cancer care.
I hope that you’ll find this guide useful on your healing journey.