Botanical Approaches




Checklist for Patients

The treatment recommended by the oncologist or other practitioner treating cancer patients is often regarded as the primary means of destroying or removing the disease. Most patients are led to believe that immediate action is required to "fight cancer"—this despite the fact that it is widely accepted that many cancers are not even detected for years after the first cell became wayward. The urgency of the recommendations is often confusing to patients, but more important than the mental and emotional state of the patient is the fact that control over the future seems to be slipping away from the patient to the medical profession.

What is ignored in the first days and often months of treatment are the life style factors that possibly contributed to the development of cancer. Addressing these issues tends to restore some sense of patient control in a situation that otherwise feels like it is spiralling out of control.

For instance, countless studies suggest that there might be a correlation between certain dietary factors and cancer. We have all heard of the risks of smoking or saturated fats, but have we also heard that certain bras or dry cleaning agents may aggravate the tendency towards breast cancer? Are we aware that stress management is crucial to a successful outcome in all health situations?

The checklist is not a complete punch list for people facing cancer, but it is a starter and it may prompt some patients to take more initiative in finding additional information that may promote a more successful outcome.

Even in the very early stages of treatment, there are measures people can take to improve their responses to treatment. Though I try to stay current with a lot of factors affecting health, I am just one person so consider the checklist a diving board: once you jump off, you have to swim, and this is basically something only you can do. I can nudge, but that is about it. You may have more than one diving instructor and more than one person to teach you how to swim.

Speaking for a moment from the side of the professional, it has always felt a bit unfair that assessments of the merits of particular protocols were so narrow in scope that that the differences in diet, supplements, life style, stress management, creativity and inspiration are never factored into the conclusions. Consequently, except for a rare study here or there, such as those done by Dr. O. Carl Simonton, most people are led to believe that the main modality accounts for most of the success or failure of a protocol.

While I believe that the choice of that modality is important, I also believe that if it is true that patients who are happy have a longer life expectancy than those who are not, then we have to ask what makes which people happy. Likewise, if broccoli is good for us, why not eat more cruciferous vegetables and go easy on the simple carbohydrates like white flour and sugar. I do not think that any patient who fails to make meaningful life style changes can be truly serious about getting well. Moreover, that patient may have impossible expectations about what the doctor can accomplish without the patient being more proactive.

All the measures people can undertake on their own restore power to the patient and balance the relationship between practitioner and patient. Keep in mind that experienced as your doctor is, he or she is a specialist in a field that did not include food and nutrition, herbal medicine, or prayer and meditation in the curriculum used to train doctors. Though this is unfortunate, the good news is that this leaves a virgin world for patients to explore on their own!

So, regardless of whether a patient chooses to go the surgery and chemotherapy route or some completely holistic route, nearly every informed person would agree that stress reduction will promote wellness. For instance, there are studies showing that laughter therapy increases white blood cell activity. This means, you can take herbs or laugh! In short, you can use a visualization technique or meditation or food and herbs or some sophisticated immunotherapy, but you will most likely have to take personal responsibility for this part of your healing. If you explain it to your doctor, he might shrug his shoulders or support you by telling you that what you are doing might be helpful.

Since we agree that no one person can possibly know all we need to know about the individual variations in pathology, responses to treatment and diet, and destiny, we agree to exploration. Being metaphysical, I personally believe that exploration is a good transmutation of the energy that might otherwise be used to expand the growth of the malignancy, but I doubt there will ever be research to support this notion.


Stress is cumulative, but as the causes of stress are examined and transformed, there is more energy for healing. Doctors, whether surgeons or herbalists, do not take responsibility for stress management. . . though I personally feel the day is coming when more doctors will take the extra minute or two necessary to suggest to patients that this is something they might take up with a specialist, a psychologist, pastoral counselor, or other individual.

This checklist is just that. While not pretending to be complete, it is provided so that if there is any suspicion at all that one is not doing one's utmost to overcome cancer, the points on this list can be examined, one at a time, to see if there are opportunities to improve one's odds.

The checklist is divided in sections that can basically be called: physical, emotional, and spiritual measures that can be addressed to see whether or not there is room for improvement.

The most important question a patient can ask is whether or not he or she is taking anything that is directly anti-tumoral in its effects. Cancers differ, but there is plenty of literature in both the allopathic and holistic worlds to suggest that some foods and herbs have significant anti-cancer actions. They work differently, some inhibit cellular mutation, some effect replication, some deprive the tumor of nutrients needed to survive, but there are foods and herbs to consider.

Next, patients often have questions about the side effects of treatments: the risk of dissemination of the tumor due to biopsies and surgery or of secondary cancers due to irradiation; the toxic side effects of chemotherapy and the damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart; the dryness, discomfort, and loss of elasticity associated with irradiation. While no one can guarantee complete relief, there are many ways to reduce side effects and support a higher quality of life.

Next, people want to know about how to promote the development of healthier blood cells, how to improve digestion and elimination, how to deal with the possibility of parasite infection, and so on almost endlessly. Then, there are issues of swelling, itching, burning, pain, loss of appetite, weight loss . . . it's endless but there is also scope for improvement in the sense of physical well being.

This is one of my areas of considerable expertise. I have written books and lectured on the stress patterns that result in disease. We all have stress, and we all have more or less capacity to handle challenges, usually we have glaring areas of weakness as well as some outstanding strengths. Most of us are confident in some things and uncertain in other areas. We are also spontaneous in some situations and guarded in others. Whenever there is any lack of ease at all, there is blockage and congestion . . . and while not everyone might agree, my specialty is in showing how the particular patterns translate into physical issues.

My favorite lecture is called "Fate." Having chosen that title, I would not say that I am a fatalist, rather that I see forces operating that bring certain issues to the fore. My definition of fate is that is the place where psychological and spiritual forces intersect. This concept is very difficult for people who have never thought of it before. However, I see everyone as having a reservoir of emotional experiences that contains our feelings about everything and everyone, from such simple things as how we react to inflections in the voice, colors, tastes, and places to such complex issues as risk, caution, security, loss, survival, and pain. We also each have gifts from God that are ours to develop and express. To the extent that they are not being given opportunity to unfold in the life styles we have created, we have what might be called soul fatigue, a devastating devitalization that occurs when the soul despairs of its potential to complete its mission.

The checklist is about these points and much more. Visitor questions often stimulate me to write new pages so the contents of this section tend to go through fits and spurts of expansion and lulls.

God Bless!

What patients most often remark when reviewing the checklist is that they had no idea that there is a psychological as well as spiritual component to cancer that they had not considered. What is so gratifying to me is that so many have found the inner exploration more rewarding than the outer quest for cure.


Clearing the Mental Slate and Seeking a Second Opinion


See also the site entirely devoted to this subject:

Cancer Checklist





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