Few challenges in life are as physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining as a struggle against cancer. Beyond the toll of the disease itself, many patients experience depletion due to the treatment, lifestyle changes, and the financial costs of cancer treatment. Family and loved ones face many struggles, too. Maintaining your emotional and spiritual wellness during cancer treatment gives your treatment the greatest chance of success.
In the cancer treatment community, we talk about treating cancer holistically – that is, addressing the causes of the illness, not just the symptoms, by focusing on the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical elements of the patient.
When you hear “holistic cancer treatment,” you may have questions or doubt. It’s perfectly natural. Common myths about holistic treatment – perpetuated by skeptics and advocates alike – are among the reasons for confusion about holistic cancer care. I’d like to help dispel some of those myths:
Myth #1: Holistic Cancer Treatment is Mystical Voodoo
“Holistic” doesn’t mean mystical, other-worldly, or ritualistic. It simply means treating the entire person: Physically, spiritually, emotional and mentally. Holistic treatment often includes common sense practices like switching to a more natural diet, detoxification, strengthening your immune system, guided exercise, relaxation techniques, and counseling. Even alternative health practices like massage therapy and acupuncture are now commonly accepted in the mainstream.
Myth #2: Holistic Cancer Treatment is “A Wing and a Prayer”
Skeptics often portray holistic cancer treatment as self-delusion. They say it isn’t proven. In fact, many patients discover the benefits of holistic cancer therapy after conventional cancer treatments have failed. Thousands of patients have lived longer and enjoyed a better quality of life thanks to a holistic approach to treating cancer.
Myth #3: Alternative Cancer Treatments Are All the Same
Some cancers – and some patients – respond to acupuncture or meditation. Other patients find relaxation techniques like yoga and aromatherapy effective. Others see an impact from dietary changes. Alternative practices often get lumped together as “holistic treatments,” but this is an over-simplification. Alternative disciplines are not all the same, and not all are appropriate as part of a cancer treatment plan. Your holistic cancer treatment strategy should be unique to you.
Key Takeaway: Holistic Cancer is Worth Learning More About
The quest to define – and sometimes misdefine – holistic cancer treatment stems, in part, from a struggle to influence public perception, acceptance and behavior. But as cancer patients and their supporters know, the last thing you need after a cancer diagnosis is more struggle.
By addressing myths about holistic cancer treatment head on, I’m optimistic patients, loved ones, and doctors can have a more constructive conversation about its benefits in defeating cancer.
About the Author: Peter Ewens is the President and CEO of Natural Horizons Wellness Centers, which offers an integrative Comprehensive Cancer Care program in Fairfax, Virginia. His focus is on helping cancer patients and their supporters understand what to expect at holistic cancer treatment centers.