Monday, April 9, 2012


Please know that if you are newly diagnosed with cancer, you have CHOICES. Whether it be an integrative, complementary, or a completely alternative approach to your treatment, you are not powerless. Your doctor is there to guide and work with you, not to order and instruct you.

The below questions are designed to get you thinking. If you or a loved one has been newly diagnosed with cancer, I think you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to spend some time pondering these. Pray about them. Educate yourself until knowledge overcomes fear. Then decide what is right for you.

5 Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to Any Cancer Treatment

1. If I didn’t do any treatment for 6-8 weeks, how could my cancer progress?
After going through initial biopsy and staging procedure, this should be your first question. Find out how your cancer behaves. Learn as much as you can from your doctor and your own research. Don’t focus on the treatment! Learn about the actual cancer.

Whether your cancer is aggressive or indolent, an immediate switch to a diet high in organic, raw juices, salads, and smoothies, and free of all sugars, meats, and processed foods will slow your cancer’s growth and begin to re-build your immune system. Also consider supplements that strengthen the immune system.

As soon as you are diagnosed, there is no time wasting. You will be surprised about how long your doctor will wait to schedule you for your treatment. Testing alone takes WEEKS. 

It has taken years for your cancer to develop to its present condition. You should immediately begin an anti-cancer diet. There is no reason to wait, no matter what treatment you decide on!

2. What are long term side effects and what are the conventional treatment cure rates for my type and stage of cancer?
Following your diagnosis your oncologist will immediately begin to teach you about the schedule of chemotherapy and radiation you will receive for your cancer treatment. Learn about the side effects and decide if they are something you are willing to risk, especially knowing that there could be long term effects AND a greater risk of developing a secondary cancer later.

When you study survival statistics, you have to understand that the survival rates for cancers in the U.S. are marked by a 5 year survival. It doesn’t take account if someone dies the day after their 5-year “cancer-versary” or if they still have cancer. They just have to be “alive” 5 years from diagnosis. It also doesn’t take into account that person’s quality of life during and after treatment.  For example, for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of the most curable cancers with chemotherapy and radiation, the 5-year cure rate according to the American Cancer Society is 84%. According to a large 2004 clinical study, the number is closer to 40%.

You will also want to ask your doctor for the Material Safety Data Sheets for the doctor’s recommended chemotherapy regimen. These will list all chemicals involved and their short and long term side effects.

Also, do not be shy about asking another doctor for their opinion. 

3. How is the rest of the world treating cancer? How much does my oncologist know about alternative cancer treatment?
Although much of the Asian and European medical world has been influenced by the American pharmaceutical industry, there are many clinics in these areas that are treating patients successfully without chemotherapy or radiation. International doctors are much more likely to view the body in a holistic perspective than American doctors.

Your standard American oncologist probably won’t know much about any treatment except the big three: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He/she may be aware of clinical trials available, but in most cases there are still side effects and these trials are still pharmaceutical. Long-term side-effects and efficacy aren’t known as well. Your oncologist will not prescribe you an alternative treatment since a “treatment” is not a drug if it lacks FDA approval.

Oncologists are great for teaching you about the behavior of your cancer and monitoring you by blood tests and scans.  

If you decide on an alternative treatment you may find it helpful to have a knowledgeable holistic MD or naturopath to help coach you along the way. One way to do this is to visit your local health foods store and find the free health magazines/ publications. They’re usually near the entrance. Call the natural practitioners listed in there and ask around by explaining your situation.

4. What about conventional treatment will guarantee that my cancer won’t come back?
Many supporters of conventional treatment believe that chemotherapy and radiation is the elite cancer cure, but one look at even generous statistics, and you can see that is not the case. It is true that chemotherapy will kill cancer cells in most cases, but it also kills a large amount of healthy cells along with it. Let’s say you do obtain remission with conventional treatment. If you don’t change the underlying habits that led to your cancer in the first place, how are you insuring yourself against the cancer coming back?

Your immune system will be battered during chemotherapy and radiation. It is important to eat as much of an anti-cancer diet while going through conventional treatment to help counter the negative effects. Please know that your oncologist should know any supplements or foods you are eating. There are some foods that can interfere and weaken the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

5. What if the conventional treatment doesn’t work? On the other hand, what if I did alternative treatment and it doesn’t work?
Oh boy, was this one I struggled with.    First of all, the side effects were AWFUL. Heart damage, hair loss, nausea, anxiety, depression, secondary cancers, and infertility.
Also, if for some reason the first round of chemo didn’t work, I would have had to go through another 4-6 months of a different chemo.   After that, my only hope would be a clinical trial or a last minute attempt at an alternative treatment.

I chose to pursue FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE. It is much more difficult to do it the other way around after your immune system has been taxed by chemotherapy and radiation, sometimes multiple times. My biggest worry was “what if the cancer gets worst and is much more difficult to treat?” With close monitoring, this is not a problem. Have a cooperative oncologist keep an eye on the size of the tumors and any tumor marker tests or blood tests that can show progress. Consider HcG testing.

As long as you are proactive with an anti-cancer diet, your condition should not drastically worsen in 4-6 weeks, the amount of time most alternative protocols take to show progress. The more aggressive the cancer, the more intense the protocol needs to be from the start. Like I said before, learn about the behavior of your cancer to weigh this decision. Consult with more than one doctor.

Remember that the goal with alternative therapies is to build the immune system and holistic health of the person, not to rid the body of tumors. Tumors are symptoms of a deeper problem. Rejuvenating and supporting the self-healing process will help your body rid itself of cancer without using toxic chemicals. If for some reason the initial alternative protocols do not work, you can change or add additional protocols. There are hundreds out there. 

Research, Research, Research
Do your RESEARCH! Have an advocate work with you. The amount of information you will learn in those first few visits to your doctor will be daunting.

You should also ask for permission to Audio Record your cancer decision conversations with your doctor. Cancer can put us into a mental fog and we don’t always hear everything the doctor says.

If you have a friend or family member who has been recently diagnosed, send them this. It is VITAL that we as patients are well-informed and make decisions out of knowledge peace- NOT out of fear.

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