Over 96% of the cancer survivors we interviewed started and completed at least one treatment program grounded in conventional medical care. Usually treatment includes Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy, Hormonal Therapy and Immunotherapy – often in combination.
We were both surprised and encouraged by this. Conventional treatments have a central role in cancer survival. The overwhelming majority of survivors of cancer do embrace conventional medical care.
Today, more and more patients have decided to take matters in their own hands, demanding a full explanation and researching information on their treatment options. Making the decision to be as informed as possible about your cancer and your treatment options is a positive step towards recovery. Understanding the effectiveness of suggested treatments and how they might affect you is key.
However it is important to remember survivors of cancer take charge of the management of their entire health and well-being. They chose to work with a medical team and follow a treatment program that give them confidence and ensure they understand each component of their recovery program. Survivors also pro-actively incorporate an integrative approach to their cancer treatment and recovery, focusing on the whole person with patient control at the centre. Integrative cancer care incorporates mind, body and spirit (or the physical, mental, spiritual and social) aspects of the person (as well as the persons support system of family and friends). Survivors embrace not only the science that will help them beat cancer, but the impact of health lifestyles.
When visiting your doctor remember:
It is important to ask questions. Treatments for cancer are constantly evolving. Consequently it is not unlikely you will receive offers for treatments including drugs or procedures that have not been mentioned to you by other suffers or friends or family who have had the same cancer. It is therefore important that you should feel comfortable enough to ask any questions or raise any concerns you have about treatment if you do not exactly understand what is being offered. You may also like to request an alternative or get a second opinion on the treatment you or a family member is receiving. You getting the answers you need to feel reassured is the most important thing.
This leads on to our second point, namely that your health and well-being is primarily your responsibility. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are there to help you and can offer you support, but the ultimate responsibility lies with you.
Body Based Treatments:
Massage – increases relaxation and mind-body-spirit integration after surgery, during and after chemo and radiation. (NOTE: for those with bleeding risks avoid deep/intense tissue massage and avoid massage at the site of active cancer lesion/recent surgery/lymph node involvement). It is best to seek a massage therapist with experience of oncology patients and professional training.
Energy-based treatments (can promote healing and decrease a number of symptoms):
Acupuncture – decreases nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy or anesthesia; decreases pain and increases the effectiveness of other pain treatments; may decrease thoracotomy/chest incision pain); may increase smoking cessation. (Caution – in those with bleeding potential, note this is a minimal risk and should be done by a qualified acupuncturist).
Reiki – (ray-key) is Japanese for ‘universal life energy, and is also a word used to describe a system of natural healing, This tradition was founded by Mikao Usui in the early 20th century and evolved as a result of his research, experience and dedication. Benefits reported by recipients include deep relaxation promoting a calm, peaceful sense of well being on all levels. Some people feel sensations of heat, tingling, or experience seeing colours, whilst others can have an emotional response, indicating that shifts are taking place, allowing harmony to be restored.
Aromatherapy – Essential oils (concentrated plant extracts can be used topically or inhaled – with many potential benefits that can affect). Use appropriately and safely , patch testing should be employed to test for allergic reactions and irritation, oral inhalation may cause an allergic reaction or irritation in some individuals, some oils may stimulate hormone receptors; check with a qualified clinical Aromatherapist. Aromatherapy can help with anxiety, grief, mood, mental clarity, nausea, pain, rest/sleep, stress and others.
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