I have always endeavoured to treat people kindly in my practice. Not that I’m above giving some “tough love” to people who are not ready to make changes to their lifestyle, nutrition or medication/supplement choices when it’s clear that such changes would be of benefit. My kindness, as I see it, is in understanding that people make changes when they are ready to do so. Whether it’s in emotional patterns of angry communication towards their loved ones, or it’s related to unhealthy drinking habits. As a naturopathic doctor, I know I can guide people towards healthier choices (and I do) but I also know that no long-term changes come with force (either through a doctor or from oneself).
Recently, I have heard of many patients who have had unkind experiences in their health care. For example, several of my current patients are treated very differently when they are working with a new trial chemotherapy. Their doctor-researchers are quite animated and kind-spirited with the “good patients’ who respond favourably to the treatments, but the researchers often treat the same patients dismissively when they are no longer showing benefits. This is one of the ways that “good patients” get bad treatment. It’s not the patient’s “fault” for not responding well to the treatment, but often this is how they feel. This is also how doctors unintentionally project their frustration over being unable to help a patient, directly at the patients they seek to help.
And unfortunately, it’s no one’s fault in my opinion. Although I am incredibly saddened for patients that endure such changes in relationships that they had formed with these doctors and I wish doctors would stop this behaviour, I do believe that it is stemming from a sense of helplessness in these doctors. They are working with a new medication that they feel will extend a patient’s life, but some are showing poor response to this current hoped-for-cure. What can they work with if this cure does not seem to be working? It’s a difficult place to be.
Patients have often looked at the medical world as holding the panacea to health and cure from disease. But all doctors are human. I am constantly looking at different ways to work with patients in case other options are needed for their best health. Perhaps other doctors can learn about positive health care experiences for patients that are not under their care. Only in this way can we learn that we are all interconnected and the kindness of sharing this positive awareness may be just the boost needed for patient healing from another source, or to redirect the patient’s energy positively in new directions that need to be explored.
Some medical doctors are fantastic in their ability to do just this. Thank-you for these kindnesses. If you have experienced any kindnesses in your own health care, do let me know about it — let’s continue this Qi of Life!
Finding the RIGHT Treatment for Cancer
This is after all, what we’re seeking isn’t it? And we’ve all heard about at least one success story using either conventional or complementary medicine or perhaps a blend of both. Then the other questions creep in. Was the success based on the type of cancer that you have? Have there been studies proving the benefits of the therapies that the success story claims? Who were the researchers of the study?
And this can get very complicated. For example, thyroid cancers have several different target cells that can be affected; each requiring a slightly different approach for treatment. Of course this is true for most cancers of the body. And what if you have one of those cancers that is extremely rare that not many studies are even available for?
Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy answers for cancer treatments. Numerous books have been published touting the benefits of one therapy over another, nutritional plans and suggestions abound, and medical advances keep producing new trial chemotherapies that have no long-term studies for their efficacy.
Tuning in to Your Own Perspective
So what is the patient/family member/friend to do? Stop. Focus. If possible, patients should try to turn inwards for introspection about their own health. Do you have a gut feeling or direction that you feel is going to work best for you? If so, listen to your body and mind. And make sure your mind is free from the clutter of helpful doctors, practitioners, friends and family members. This is your health. The choices you make are for your own benefit, not for the benefit of those around you whose suggestions are quite honest and sincere (from their perspective), but they do not necessarily reflect your perspective.
And your perspective is the key to your health especially in cancer care. This is what we have learned time and again with our patients at our clinic. My husband and I feel especially strong with our skills in Chinese Medicine, so we speak to our patients about nutrition from this perspective, about lifestyle choices from this perspective, and we feel quite confident in our acupuncture treatments with our patients. Chinese Medicine resonates with us. It is our skill, perspective and belief in this medicine that allows our patients who share this perspective to benefit. It is the art and science that we practice.
But Chinese Medicine is not necessarily the treatment that resonates with you. For your maximum benefits in your own care, you need to work with the medicine(s) that resonate with you; with practitioners that you resonate with for your own best results. Some will find that energy work through homeopathy or reiki is what resonates with them; some will be drawn to nutrition and exercise, or a combination of several therapies as they work with an integrative approach to their care.
What if Your Perspective Changes?
Ah yes. This will happen. You will learn about the latest, newest cure (whether a new chemotherapy medication, a new supplement or a new diet). Wait. Doing more is not necessarily better. If you have poor nutritional habits and learn of a healthier dietary plan, do incorporate it. But if you are taking several supplements that you felt confident about initially, do not change your regime one week into your healing process. We recommend that our patients work with a new plan of care for a minimum of 3 months before making any changes. And this means that the mind and body is committed to this regime for the 3 months (pulling the mind away from second-guessing yourself is usually the most difficult part of this process, but it can be done). If at the end of 3 months, you are as drawn to another treatment protocol, do pursue it with the same enthusiasm and full-heartedness that you started your first regime with; maybe there are some details you learned in your first protocol that will help you through your second; I believe that everything happens for a reason and that each step a patient takes will bring greater clarity to see the next needed step.
And although this is not an easy process, please know that we have seen this time and again over a combined 25+ years of experience in healthcare. People who have an awareness of the treatments they feel are best suited to their personal needs and stick to them with confidence and positivity are the ones that do the best in their cancer journeys. This may mean that they reach the 5-year survival point at which they can rightfully use the word “cure” or it may mean that their cancer growth is inhibited, uncomfortable symptoms are alleviated, or that their life is being led to the fullest in this particular moment. Remember that there are no right treatments for cancer; only the right choices for an individual.