If you follow Cancer Recovery Foundation International’s guidelines, you will soon hear the term “integrated cancer care.” When the term “integrated” is used, we mean patient-centered cancer care that extends well beyond the orthodox treatments of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The fundamental focus of integrated cancer care is about displacing illness by creating wellness—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Orthodox medicine often has a place – an important short-term role – in the cancer recovery process. But nutrition, exercise, and stress management – not medicine – form the basis of integrated cancer care. We also include beliefs and attitudes, social support, creative thinking, and spirituality within integrated cancer care.
Integrated cancer care requires patients to be active participants in their own health and healing. It views physicians as one of several possible health advisors, requiring those same health advisors to view patients as a whole person, rather than simply a physical body or a disease.
It is not to be confused with complementary and alternative treatment options. They are techniques, while integrated cancer care is much more. For the vast majority of cancer patients who contact us, when we suggest integrated cancer care, we are actually suggesting a whole new way of life.
Cancer Recovery Foundation International, along with our affiliated organizations, is the world’s leading proponent of integrated cancer care. Nearly 35 years from its humble beginnings, we are grateful to have dedicated staff and relationships with hundreds of health advisers around the globe. These include traditionally trained oncologists who honor and practice the tenets we teach. The guidance contained on this website is based on this vast knowledge base and experience.
Integrated cancer care is action-oriented, designed to help you, the patient, put in motion a program that will maximize your opportunity for a complete recovery, while also maintaining a high quality of life. It is something that must be practiced. If you are newly diagnosed or experiencing a recurrence, embrace these concepts and principles for the next two years—a reasonable time for recovery. Return to these truths again and again to get “unstuck” in your cancer journey.
The embrace of a holistically-integrated cancer care program offers a powerful alternative to the current orthodox cancer treatment paradigm so widely practiced by oncologists and accepted, without serious questioning, by cancer patients. Current conventional Western cancer treatment is exclusively focused on the disease—the tumor model. Following a myriad of tests, a diagnosis is made. Once diagnosed, the tumor or the blood-based cancer is attacked with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. Medical expertise is required to prescribe and administer these treatments, and thus a different specialist is present to implement each treatment modality. The entire process is focused on the tumor and precious little about the person.
Since the focus of the tumor-based model is solely on the tumor, little – if any – effort is expended in exploring the benefits of healthful diet, regular exercise, immune-enhancing treatments, social and emotional support, spirituality, or other methods to enhance a patient’s well-being. As as result, a focus solely on the tumor leaves the thinking patient dis-empowered and unable to contribute to their own healing. In fact, empowering cancer patients and their support team may be one of the most important aspects of our work. If Cancer Recovery Foundation International can equip you – along with tens of thousands of additional cancer patients – to fully understand and practice integrated cancer care, we will have changed the singular treatment mindset in cancer.
Let’s be clear: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can play an important role in cancer treatment. But with most cancers, especially early-stage cancer, the benefits that conventional treatment may provide must be carefully weighed against the risks.
Conventional treatments do not address the underlying factors that predispose one to – or prevent – cancer development. Conventional cancer treatments merely treat symptoms. The tumor model of cancer considers the tumor the entire problem and ignores factors like tobacco use and obesity that directly affect the development of lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. The orthodox approach says, in essence: “See, there’s the tumor. That’s the problem. That’s what we will attack.”
Converse to this narrowly defined approach, the emerging integrated model of cancer treatment recognizes the tumor as a physical indication of a greater underlying imbalance. The new model of cancer care recognizes the growing evidence that shows that supporting and creating high levels of well-being with nutrition and exercise is at least as important as conventional cancer treatment.
In addition to the nutrition and exercise emphasis, the broader aspects of emotional, social, and spiritual support from this model of treatment can be critically important to optimal health—so critical as to create a level of well-being that transcends disease. The multi-pronged approach of integrated cancer care and treatment recognizes the importance of the person as a whole, rather than just the cancer. It is a critical distinction. Please grasp the importance of this truth in your own journey: your cancer is not just about the tumor.
Science is beginning to discover what ancient healers from a variety of cultures and disciplines have known and practiced for centuries—that our mind and body and spirit are inseparable. Together they create a “life force” that nurtures health, healing, and the optimal functioning of our immune system. This means that health is much more than healthcare, and that cancer care is much more than cancer treatment.
Understanding and acknowledging that our body and mind and spirit are inseparable, the emerging paradigm of cancer care provides optimal support for the whole person. These disciplines can be naturally and safely integrated with conventional cancer treatments if the patient desires. Supporting overall health and well-being supports immune function, which facilitates the healing process, improves our quality of life, and enhances recovery. In short, the wise integration of body, mind, and spirit helps create health and encourages healing.
The study of the relationship between the mind, body, and immune system is called psychoneuroimmunology. Scientists are discovering that when we feel empowered, our immune system is empowered. Fear can have a substantial negative impact on immune function, whereas regaining a sense of control and positive engagement in our own health and healing helps support immune function. The principles of empowerment, self-engagement, and personal choice are at the heart of the emerging model of cancer care.
More than any other dynamic, the emerging model understands that mind, body, spirit, and immune system are one. Moving away from the single-dimension tumor model of cancer, we are progressing toward multiple ways of supporting mind, body, spirit, and immune function that include exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, and spirituality. All are interrelated, contributing to the benefit provided by the others in a synergistic way. By engaging in the many ways we can support mind, body, and spirit, we clearly optimize our body’s healing potential. Today, we can say with certainty that a cancer recovery program without integration of body, mind, and spirit is an incomplete program at best.
Thousands of cases of recovery from “incurable” life-threatening diseases, including advanced cancers, have been scientifically documented. Greg Anderson, founder of Cancer Recovery Foundation Internatioanl, is one of those documented cases. There is no question you also possess that potential.
While research of this integrated cancer care phenomenon is still in its infancy, a growing cadre of physicians, practitioners, and allied healthcare professionals are coming forward to serve cancer patients in optimally engaging in their own health and healing. With growing scientific interest in this field, researchers have begun to study patients who have recovered from seemingly impossible circumstances in hopes of beginning to understand how we all can better facilitate our body’s remarkable healing abilities.
Cancer Recovery Foundation International is asking you to act now to design and implement your own integrated cancer recovery program. In fact, if you are dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, there has never been a better time or more important time to fully embrace this program.