Integrative cancer care – a whole person approach
Today’s guest writer, Jeannine Walston is co-founder and Executive Director of EmbodiWorks, a non-profit organization offering integrative cancer care resources for the whole person. Jeannine has extensive experience in cancer education and advocacy, health care policy, and both conventional and integrative cancer care through work in the U.S. Congress, government agencies, cancer non-profit organizations, and health care practices. In today’s post, Jeannine explains what integrative cancer care is and how it benefits the individual as a whole.
Integrative Cancer Care for the Whole Person
Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1998 when I was 24 years old, my healing journey has taken me to places far and wide. After 12 hours of awake brain surgery and a recurrence a few years later, I quickly learned that my health is defined by much more than my brain tumor diagnosis. From the inside out, I’ve discovered that people with cancer need support for the whole person. My personal journey and professional cancer experience begged the question– What do people with cancer really need for improved quality of life and even survival?” The answer is integrative cancer care.
Integrating more than the cancer diagnosis, integrative cancer care addresses the totality of body, mind, and spirit, including social and environmental health. All of these aspects of your health and life are constantly interacting together, influencing one another, and interdependently shaping who you are.
Let’s start with the entire physical body. Why is that so important? The physical body functions as one whole integrated system. Health care must support the networked parts creating the whole. The internal environment of the body strongly impacts whether or not cancer grows in each person. A healthy internal terrain strengthens vitality and anti-cancer effects.
People affected by cancer also need support to negotiate the stress, chaos, and even trauma related to cancer. Mind-body tools provide cancer patients and caregivers with empowering self-care strategies. As the state of the mind and emotions affect health due to the mind-body connection, mental and emotional balance also improves biological functioning. Supporting the mind strengthens the body.
The mind-body is not separate from spirit. Negotiating the unexpected and uncertainty, people affected by cancer benefit from spiritual support. The existential crisis of cancer even raises questions about existence and nonexistence with challenges psychologically and spiritually. New spiritual understandings and connections nurture mind-body-spirit wellness and wholeness.
Along with body, mind, and spirit, integrative cancer care also addresses social and environmental health. For everyone, cancer is a social issue impacting community. When cancer is in the picture, new perceptions and social experiences emerge. People dealing with cancer—patients, family members, friends—endure a range of social challenges and opportunities. Along with the need for social support, integrative cancer care includes a clean, green environment. People with cancer must take steps to safeguard against high levels of environmental carcinogens. This includes using clean, green products in your body, on your body, and around your body in your environment inside and outside your home.
Support to body, mind, and spirit, including social and environmental health, must be applied to cancer care and especially as studies show that integrative cancer care reduces cancer risk, improves cancer survival, and quality of life. My own journey through cancer over the last thirteen years continues to inform my integrative cancer care knowledge and program. How can you better support your health and healing? What is your integrative cancer care plan? Empower yourself into greater vitality with integrative cancer care for the whole person.
Visit http://www.embodiworks.org/ for more information