Integrative Medicine and Cancer

Health coach: Integrative care takes compassionate approach

By Heidi Baldwin

Baldwin
Baldwin

A cancer diagnosis is life changing, and often brings about feelings of uncertainty and fear.

Navigating treatment options and making lifestyle changes can be overwhelming and all consuming.

Patients worry about making the right decisions, and in the process, many feel like they lose themselves and their identity.

No one wants to be referred to as the lung cancer in room 5, or the brain tumor in room 3, yet mainstream medicine often compartmentalizes people by their disease process, and loses sight of the whole person.

This is where integrative medicine is distinctively different in approach to patient care. The focus is on the whole person, and bringing balance back into their life as they navigate through life-altering decisions.

Integrative medicine addresses not only physical needs of the patient, but emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as well. Patient mindset surrounding the healing process can impact the outcome of the treatment protocol.

More importantly, there is a strong connection between outcomes and the attitude and mindset of the doctor. In integrative care, there is always hope, and this goes a long way in fostering a positive outlook.

We often hear stories about the cold indifference patients receive from doctors giving them a second or third opinion, and the lack of regard for them as an individual.  Integrative medicine helps to nurture the spirit of the individual as they move through their process, and helps them to focus on the quality of life rather than dwelling on time frames. None of us knows how much time we have left on this earth.

For many, a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, but rather a much-needed wake up call to address necessary lifestyle changes.

A patient receives a high-dose IV of vitamin C at Integrative Medicine of Central New York in Chittenango.
A patient receives a high-dose IV of vitamin C at Integrative Medicine of Central New York in Chittenango.

Self-care is essential, but often neglected. How much sleep are you getting? Do you get enough exercise? Are you in a toxic relationship? Is your career fulfilling? Are you struggling to find balance in your life and making time to do things you enjoy?

Integrative medicine also addresses the importance of proper nutrition. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Consider also, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  The body is designed to heal itself, but needs to be fueled properly in order to do so.

You couldn’t fill your car’s gas tank with soda and expect to drive away on vacation. You also cannot feed your body fast food and sugar-laden processed junk and expect the healing process to begin.

The foods you eat either harm you or help you, and an integrative approach helps you to navigate your nutritional needs.

Complementary therapies also enhance the integrative experience. Healing modalities such as reiki help individuals achieve balance and relaxation.

Many incorporate high dose IV vitamin C or other nutraceutical infusions as part of their integrative approach to cancer care. Integrative medicine is as unique as you are, and addresses your individual needs.

Remember, you are not your disease process, and there is a place where you can be heard and genuinely cared for during your healing process.

— Heidi Baldwin is the practice manager at Integrative Medicine of Central New York in Chittenango. She is an internally board-certified integrative nutrition holistic health coach.

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