Gathering Information

Cancer: Information is Power

It is a good idea to gather as much information as you can about your type of cancer, its causes, and treatment options. Having this information will not only reduce your anxiety, but will help you select the best treatments for your recovery.

Ask your physician if they have any information for you to read or can suggest other good sources, such as websites, books, or magazine articles, that can provide you with a basic working knowledge of the type of cancer you are dealing with. Have your doctor explain any unfamiliar medical terms or anatomical processes. Don't be left in the dark by medical jargon. Illness has its own vocabulary and becoming familiar with technical terms allows you to gain a sense of strength in coping with the challenges of a long-term recovery process.

There is no magic bullet for cancer. Rather, the alternative medicine approach systematically looks at contributing factors, such as toxins, dental factors, stress, and many others, then seeks to cleanse and support the body in the healing process.

Ultimately, it is your decision as to what treatment program (conventional and/or alternative) you want to pursue and it is best for you to base that decision on sound advice and as much knowledge as you can acquire.

Choosing the Right Therapy

One of the primary messages of this website is that there are safe and effective alternatives to conventional, toxic treatments (chemotherapy and radiation) for cancer. Unfortunately, you probably won't hear about them from your conventional doctor. But a closed mind should not come between you and healing your cancer.

Alternative medicine physicians can guide you on the wide range of natural therapies available as well as the judicious use of conventional treatments. The goal is to help you achieve a working balance between physical healing and emotional, mental, even spiritual aspects of your life. For example, Robert C. Atkins, M.D., of New York City, says that the key to success in alternative medicine approaches to cancer is to gather as much data as possible on each patient, then to apply the "Hippocratic pecking order." This means using the more benign, nontoxic therapies first and saving the riskier, more invasive therapies for last, if ever. He studies the patient's immune system and the status of its key white blood cells in detail. Dr. Atkins also uses tumor markers (blood tests that detect the presence and extent of tumors) and sonographic or X-ray studies when needed. "The priority is to see whether we are getting a response to our initial treatments," says Dr. Atkins.

Dr. Atkins has observed that, in general, people diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers benefit more from nutrition and other biologic treatments (e.g., enzymes, botanicals, and glandular extracts) than from chemotherapy. For this reason, in most cases he suggests "holding off' on chemotherapy and conventional treatments unless it becomes clear that the safer treatments alone are not getting the job done. By employing nontoxic strategies first, Dr. Atkins is able to support his patients' immune capacity to reverse cancer before the system is ravaged by toxic treatments. Those patients who take this approach, says Dr. Atkins, tend to benefit the most from alternative cancer therapies. As one patient told him, "I've gotten to know about two dozen of your patients and the ones who went through chemotherapy before they saw you aren't here or alive anymore."

"Chemotherapy and radiation are completely unwarranted in this situation, and surgery alone, when combined with an integrated immune-enhancement and detoxification program, is almost always sufficient for curing breast cancer," says Robert C. Atkins, M.D.

But the either-or question many patients ask—"should I go with orthodox treatment or alternative treatment?"—is off the mark. This question is like asking which half of the card deck a person wants to play with, says Dr. Atkins. "As long as both halves are there, let's play with the whole deck," he says. "Patients with cancer who seek either orthodox or alternative approaches are entrusting their lives to doctors who are playing with half a deck." In most cases of cancer, Dr. Atkins says that a complementary approach is needed, one which emphasizes alternative therapies along with limited and judicious use of conventional methods.

Although Dr. Atkins contends it is a fallacy to think all cancer resides within the boundaries of a tumor, he does find a role for surgery on a case-by-case basis. He finds it rarely necessary in prostate cancer, but in breast cancer, for example, surgery can be appropriate, where possible. "Surgical removal of breast tumors can lead to a complete remission of breast cancer," says Dr. Atkins. "Chemotherapy and radiation are completely unwarranted in this situation, and surgery alone, when combined with an integrated immune-enhancement and detoxification program, is almost always sufficient for curing breast cancer."

Dr. Atkins regards chemotherapy as otherwise dangerous and best avoided in treating the majority of cancers. "Only in situations in which chemotherapy is proven to be effective and curative would I recommend it," he says. "In general, this might be testicular cancer, many children's tumors, and extreme cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma. On the other hand, Ukrain can do everything chemotherapy does but without any side effects, so it renders chemotherapy largely unnecessary."

Radiation treatments are typically futile, too, says Dr. Atkins. "In some cases, however, we need to shrink tumors if they're encroaching or impinging on more vital parts of the body. In that case, a combination of radiation and hyperthermia [heat treatment delivered by ultrasound or microwave] can be effective." Dr. Atkins was among the first doctors in the U.S. to successfully combine radiation with hyperthrermia to help treat prostate cancer.

With so many alternative cancer therapy options, it is literally impossible to do "everything," says Michael B. Schachter, M.D., of Suffern, New York. This is where the art of medicine comes in and why it is critical to have a physician well-versed in alternative medicine. To understand patients and their total situation, as well as the current available information on alternative therapies, which literally changes every day, the physician must integrate all of the information and, together with the patient and patient's family, choose the elements of the program that will most likely work for that particular person. Then a reasonable trial should be given with careful observation. A willingness to shift gears and either remove or add elements of the program should be maintained in order to increase the chance of a successful result. Many of Dr. Schachter's patients are exposed to conventional therapies before receiving his treatment. He believes that patients receiving conventional cancer therapy while also on an alternative medicine supportive regimen do better than those who undergo conventional therapy without receiving such support.

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