So You Have Cancer: Now What?
by Rene Ng, AP, L.Ac.
Cancer is the one disease dreaded by everyone on this planet. And for those who are cancer survivors, that ordeal is something they absolutely do not want to experience again...ever!
What is Cancer?
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, this disease is “the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer develops when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working. Old cells do not die and instead grow out of control, forming new abnormal cells. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a tumor.”
Cancer cells exist in all of our bodies. Fortunately, for most of us, these cancer cells either remain suppressed by our immune system or are destroyed before they can wreak any havoc with our health. But a growing number individuals are stricken with cancer which is life-altering and often fatal.
For those who have been diagnosed with the illness, what options are available? One path that integrates both Eastern and Western Medicines is what I call “The ABC Approach to Cancer Care.”
The ABC Approach to Cancer Care
This is an integrative approach, combining the best of Eastern and Western Medicines to address cancer, both reactively and proactively. This method has been found effective in not only helping the individual win their battle against cancer, but also to speed up their recovery during remission and lower the risk of the disease’s recurrence.
“ABC” refers to the three major phases in battling cancer, and is identified by the following steps:
- A à The Announcement Phase
- B à The Battle Phase
- C à The Clean-Up Phase
A: The Announcement Phase
This occurs in the beginning when an individual is informed of the cancer diagnosis. Feelings of fear, sadness, anger, frustration and despair are common. High stress prevails which is both demoralizing and can make the cancer condition worse.
During this phase, attention needs to focus on managing these stress levels and mitigating emotional anxiety. Stress can weaken the body which can result in the disease worsening. These suggestions can help:
- Physical Activity: Calming exercises like Yoga, Qi Gong and Tai Chi can help to reduce the physical stress and energetic turmoil. They can also help to facilitate overall circulation and oxygen intake, both of which are crucial in supporting the body’s natural ability to fight off the disease.
- Meditation: This practice can help to settle the mind, promote sleep, reduce anxiety levels, and keep the mind positive and healthy. Maintaining an optimistic, survival-like attitude is vital, and meditation can help achieve this.
- Laughter: Surround yourself with uplifting people and engage in laughter. This not only directs the mind toward positive thoughts, but also reinforces the body with healing energy. The expression “laughter is the best medicine” can be accurate and beneficial in the treatment of cancer.
- Good Nutrition: Cancer cells are living organisms, and living organisms need food to survive. Cut off the food supply to these cells by reducing the intake of foods that help cancer cells thrive like sugar, high fat, dairy and alcohol. Moderate your consumption of coffee and acidic foods in order to keep the body as alkalinic as possible. Eating cooked vegetables and foods high in antioxidants will help.
- Bowel Movements: Make sure to have regular bowel movements. This process is how the body excretes toxins which essential in the battle against cancer.
- Sun Avoidance: Heat from the sun causes the body to be in constant stress. It can also impair the circulatory system which causes dryness, dehydration and a weakened immune system. It would be prudent to avoid the sun and hot facilities like the sauna or steam room.
- Personal Counselling: Seeking psychological guidance can help to release anxiety and stress. This will provide much-needed emotional stability and as you and your loved ones come to realization about what is happening and begin to plan for the road ahead.
- Spiritual Strengthening: Maintaining socio-emotional health can increase the odds of winning your uphill cancer battle. Turning towards religion or spirituality can offer positive reinforcements to strengthen the psych. Spiritual support can include prayer, faith-based counselling, worship services and various classes.
- Body Conditioning: You are about to engage in a physical fight against this disease. Depending on the type of cancer, this could extend over a long period of time filled with fatigue, side-effects, emotional distress, weight loss, an unhealthy complexion and more. Therefore, you need to get adequate rest and strengthen the body to prepare for this ordeal.
B: The Battle Phase
This is the most difficult and enduring of the three phases. This is where the individual goes through one or more types of treatments to fight against the invading cancer with the goal of killing it off. Mainstream medicine treatments, which include radiation and chemotherapy, target the cancer cells in an attempt to destroy them. Unfortunately, these methods often cannot distinguish between cancer cells and healthy cells, resulting in damage to both.
Side-effects that accompany these treatments are often debilitating, demoralizing, painful and energy-sapping. They include skin and mouth sores, throat discomfort, extreme fatigue, hair loss, jaundice, insomnia, immobility, malnutrition, peripheral neuropathy, nausea, headaches, lack of balance, kidney and liver damage, and hot flashes, among others.
A common feedback from cancer patients is that chemotherapy does not kill a person, but the side-effects eventually could. This is especially true if the psyche is so severely affected and the person is demoralized, losing the will to live.
Aside from these mainstream treatments, there are also more holistic, gentler and easier to tolerate with fewer side-effects. These treatments focus more on the environment of the cancer cells, rather than directly towards the cells themselves. Such treatments include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, essential oils, supplements, western herbs, anti-cancer nutrition and light therapy.
In a successful battle, you will see a drop in the tumor markers, a remission of the tumor and cancer cells, and ultimately, no more traces of the cancer. This would be the most ideal and desirable outcome.
- The Natural and Holistic Battle: As previously mentioned, this approach focuses on the individual’s body, immune system and overall mind-body-spirit health. The goal is to attack the cancer cells’ environment, cut off the food chain for these cells and make the body uninhabitable for them. This is a less invasive approach than the ones taken by mainstream medicine, and also has fewer side-effects. However, this approach is also slower because it conditions the body to fight cancer cells which will take time.
This needs to be taken into serious consideration because many individuals can either be at a late stage in the disease or suffering from a particularly aggressive form. Both are situations in which they might not have the time needed for the body to respond to these treatment methods. For those individuals, sole reliance on natural and holistic options is not realistic.
- Mainstream Medicine Treatments: Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy and hormone therapy are among those commonly used in Western Medicine to treat cancers. They target the cancer cells in an attempt to either destroy them or remove them from the body.
These treatments usually are stopped when the individual is either too ill to continue treatment and hospice needs to be called, a break is needed for the individual to recover from the side-effects before continuing another round, the individual decides to discontinue the treatments, regardless of what the current cancer state is, or the cancer enters a remission stage.
Often, chemotherapy and radiation are administered even after remission in an attempt to reduce the risk of future recurrence. However, these forms of treatments usually present with undesirable and debilitating side-effects.
- The Integrative Approach: This is the ideal method of battling cancer. The Western methods directly target cancer cells, while the natural and holistic methods (especially Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture) target the individual’s body and the cancer cell’s environment.
The natural methods can also address the side-effects and calm them down, making the chemotherapy and radiation treatments easier to tolerate, speed up the recovery from surgeries and increase the overall chances of success.
- Nutritional, Spiritual and Psychological Counselling: It is important to continue these forms of counseling in order to keep the mind-body-spirit strong, confident and determined. They will also help mitigate issues that could arise within the family during this treatment process. Maintaining proper nutrition will not only starve the cancer cells, but help the body recover faster from the side-effects and foster a healthy state of mind.
C: The Clean-Up Phase
This is the phase when you receive the news that either the cancer is gone, or the cancer is in remission. Basically, what this means is that you just received a new lease on life. So you want to take advantage of this and embrace life to the fullest. But you should also focus on reducing the risk of the cancer’s recurrence.
- Detoxifying the Body: Even after the battle with cancer, your body will retain some harmful residue from the chemotherapy, radiation and other drugs. In my clinic, have seen patients who present with symptoms that originated from chemotherapy treatments they had over ten years ago. Not to mention, your spouse or partner with whom you share a physical relationship should also undergo a detoxification because that person is likely to be affected by the toxic energy you emitted while going through treatments.
- Investigate the Cancer Source: In almost every case, the cancer did not happen overnight but over the course of time. Treatments, both Western and Eastern, focus on targeting the enemy cells. Once they have been eliminated, it is time to address the individual’s life history including medical, nutritional, hereditary, fitness level, work conditions and other unusual happenings that might have contributed to the cancer’s formation and growth.
Without this being identified, you will have resolved the current symptom––the cancer––but you have not addressed the root cause. This means that, as long as the cause exists, the chance of a recurrence also exists. This is why one often hears an oncologist mention the likelihood of recurrence even if the cancer has entered remission or been healed entirely.
One of the main strengths of Chinese Medicine is identifying the cause of diseases and exposing the factors behind illnesses that an individual suffers from over time. This can help the individual figure out the likely cause of cancer to address it and reduce the chances of a recurrence.
- Nutrition and Diet: According to Cancer Centers of America, one in two patients have nutritional deficit at the time of their cancer diagnosis. Nutritional habits can either keep a person healthy or in chronic state of illness.
Ann Wigmore, a famous pioneer in holistic nutrition, once said, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form or medicine or the slowest form of poison.” So, include supplements, whole foods and certain drinks rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer nutrients in your diet. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- Reishi Mushroom - Tumeric - Raw Ginger
- White Tea - Bananas - Strawberries
- Onions - Garlic - Astragalus
- Artemisia - Reduce Dairy - Broccoli
- Avoid Excessive sugars - Avoid Fatty Foods - Avoid Fried Foods
- Take Walks and Breathe: Cancer cells hate oxygen, so one of the healthiest practices you can engage in is taking frequent walks outside. Walk slowly and breathe deeply. You can also practice Qi Gong and Tai Chi to promote balance and optimal, smooth circulation throughout your body. This will also help to reduce the amount of stress building in your body.
Cancer is a dreaded disease, and it’s a frightening realization that each of us have cancer cells growing inside us at some point in time. The most successful strategy is not just to attack the cancer, but to identify the health risks in our daily lives that could ultimately result in a cancer diagnosis.
Talk to your holistic health practitioner––especially a board-certified, licensed acupuncturist––who can address your medical history and identify potential trouble hotspots to bring you back into balance and health homeostasis. Don’t wait to do something...you never know when it is too late.
Rene Ng, AP, L.Ac., is a board-certified, licensed Acupuncture Physician and Chinese Herbalist in Sarasota. He is also a four-time winner of Sarasota’s “Favorite Acupuncture Physician” award. Cancer care is one of his specialties, and he has been able to help many cancer patients through Chinese Medicine. Ng was instrumental in developing a successful Chinese Medicine program option at San Diego’s largest cancer treatment center that combined with Western Medicine to provide a fully integrated approach to cancer treatment. For more information, call 941-773-5156, email RNG@ChineseMedicalSolutions.com or visit ChineseMedicalSolutions.com.
Edit ModuleShow Tags