Our resident integrative health specialist has been working with cancer clients for the past 15 years. She says healing from and preventing cancer is an intimate dance of identifying and dissolving fears at our core being, empowering self-compassion and addressing where the emotional and physiological elements intersect with a comprehensive biobehavioral approach. Today she’s sharing a look at the conversations she has with her clients working through cancer or on a cancer prevention path and a toolkit to troubleshoot the preventive and integrative healing approach.
Imagine participating in this conversation…
If you have been diagnosed with cancer you have no doubt asked yourself: Why me? Could I have prevented it? Is it my fault? Was it just luck of the genetic draw?
If someone close to you was diagnosed you may primarily be thinking: Could this happen to me? I want to do everything I can to prevent cancer. What lifestyle risks could I be transforming? How can I be my healthiest self yet?
A cancer diagnosis is one of the most in-depth diagnoses I work with. Never is it simply physiological, yet always a complex series of health concerns experienced at every level of a person’s being. Because we travel along paths packed with our own personal set of beliefs and experiences, the journey each person has been walking before showing up at my door is unique. The healing is often discovered in the unfolding of these personal beliefs.
Biobehavorial Wellness’ Role in Oncology
The motto to which I approach healing, especially when working to prevent and address cancer is where science and discovery meet human intuition and wellness. Afterall, cancer is a multi-systemic health concern deserving of a multi-faceted healing approach.
I introduce this motto early on with clients to open up the conversation toward understanding that integrative oncology is about flexibility—to accept that some days the greatest learning will not be from labs or studies, but rather from the depths of our intuition and on other days that science and modern medicine will offer us a glimpse toward a new level of healing.
A few words or phrases to describe the way I approach integrative oncology?
At one’s inner-most depths
From an evidence-based, epigenetic approach
As an opportunity for vibrant, whole-person healing
In research and healing circles, we refer to this as a biobehavioral approach.
Biobehavioral wellness is supported by the idea of psychoneuroimmunology- the intimate connection between immunity and mental/emotional wellness. It’s a look at how biological pathways are influenced by the ways we perceive ourselves. How we think and feel about our wellbeing. The research confirms what you might expect. Our biological pathways are indeed influenced by our fears and deep-level, self-perceptive proclivities, so much so that the Journal of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity published a decade-long review dedicated to this subject. The study, entitled, Psychoneuroimmunology and Cancer: A decade of discovery, paradigm shifts, and methodological innovations helps confirm that an ongoing, integrative approach to cancer treatment and prevention is elemental in improving and solidifying relationships with practitioners and clients. It certainly helps empower, reassure and give people hope that healing at an emotional level can and does influence physiological healing from cancer.
So I ask clients: What are your gut feelings about your experience with cancer, what do you think your body is trying to intuit to you? One of the cornerstones of preventing and addressing oncological concerns is grounding in digestive health. Because immunity and emotions arise from the gut, our digestive health continuum is key.
In our ongoing conversational discovery, I invite clients to explore what’s underneath these gut-related questions:
Am I carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders?
What fears am I storing inside?
Could I be experiencing unresolved anger?
Only then do we understand why cancer cells may be migrating to certain areas of the body, or what we need to do to resolve deep-level thinking before it influences cellular activity.
This conversation, this level of understanding is the foundation to healing through the integrative oncological approach.
Frontline Internal Integrative Approach
Nutraceuticals, food therapies, specialty lab testing. Whether you decide to couple chemo and radiation with nutraceuticals and food therapy or that nutraceuticals and food therapies will be your frontline defenses, the research focused on both could not be stronger. In many cases we’re discovering that not only do these compounds exert direct anti-cancer action such as stopping carcinogenesis in its tracks, they decrease the harmful side-effects of conventional cancer treatments.
Note: Carcinogenesis, the process by which cancer cells develop and become malignant has been shown to be reduced by dozens of therapeutic plant phytochemicals. Studies support how these compounds intervene in the epigenetic triggers that initiate the carcinogenic process such as environmental toxins and viral influences.
Body Work For Emotional, Mental & Spiritual and Physical
Healing Touch and the Emotional Freedom Technique. The idea of becoming weightless/lifting the weight of the world from our bodies can be tricky. Studies published by the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Medicine reveal that with the use of healing touch and The Emotional Freedom Technique, participants experienced tumor reduction, a reduction in cancer cell proliferation and overall immune enhancement. Along with these objective findings, study participants reported feeling lighter, a sense of freedom, less fear and an overall sense of healthy well-being.
When you get the conversation going, who will you nominate as your advocates?
If you’re embarking on a personal voyage to heal from or prevent cancer, I suggest nominating several advocates. Find an integrative practitioner who can help you “run the show” to not only offer direct advice, but also work with all of your other practitioners. Your other advocate should be a most-trusted family member or friend who can help support you emotionally, be your eyes and ears at appointments and be there for you at the drop of a hat essentially. And remember, most importantly, go easy on yourself, allow yourself room to learn, to become weightless and just be.
Christine has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. She is available for both private and professionals consultations. Please contact her here.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy + Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.