View on Breast Cancer
by Dr. Sara
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Cancer. Those two words carry enough power to simultaneously paralyse
and transform your life. Alongside them, comes the need to make
some crucial decisions about what kind of treatment you will choose
to receive in order to return to health. The choice you make will
fall along a spectrum of options. At one end is the decision to
undergo conventional treatment (a combination of surgery, chemotherapy,
radiation and/or drug therapy) and to eschew all other options;
at the other end is the choice to refuse all conventional treatment,
preferring to use naturopathic medicine, energy work, prayer and/or
other complementary therapies. Somewhere between these two is
a combination of conventional and complementary therapies, tailor-made
to meet your needs. A naturopathic doctor (N.D.) can help you
in this decision-making stage by clearly presenting all the options
and how they relate to you and your body, mind and spirit. The
most important result of this process is that you are entirely
comfortable with the choices that you have made.
principles of Naturopathic Medicine focus on treating the whole
person. For this reason, your naturopathic doctor can be an invaluable
resource for addressing all the facets of dealing with cancer.
Here are some general suggestions that an N.D. might provide,
however as everyone's situation is complex and ultimately unique,
I encourage you to seek out an N.D. that you feel comfortable
with for the details of your personal care.
The general principle behind diet should be to reduce the burden
on the body, decrease fat and increase fibre and vegetables. This
means removing all extras, chemicals and pollutants. Coffee, artificial
sweeteners, colours, preservative, pesticides, herbicides, hormones,
etc. should be removed immediately. These all place an extra burden
on the liver, an organ that comes under a lot of stress during
illness and subsequent treatment. All food should be organic when
possible. Your diet should be primarily vegetarian, heavy in beans,
legumes, tofu and vegetables and light in animal products. Not
only do animal products have a lot of saturated fat, unless you
are buying organic meats, eggs and dairy, you are ingesting extra
hormones and antibiotics. On the other hand, it is essential to
provide the body with enough protein to maintain the immune system
and for cellular repair. This means that you have to pay attention
to the kind of vegetarian protein you are eating and find a balance
that works for you. Fat should represent 10-20% of the diet and
the majority of that should be from essential fatty acids. Sugar
challenges your immune system, so keep your sugar intake low.
Clean, pure water and lots of it is essential for "detox-ing"
the body, and adequate fibre, either through fruits, vegetables
and grains or a fibre supplement is necessary to keep the bowels
(Note: All herbs and supplements should be used under the supervision
of a health care provider.) There are many herbs and nutritional
supplements that can help to treat breast cancer, augment conventional
therapies and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
A naturopathic doctor will assess what your needs are and suggest
the appropriate products.
Making lifestyle changes when under stress is often more difficult
than under normal circumstances. An N.D. can help you to stop
smoking and drinking, initiate an exercise program that is appropriate
to your stage of healing and teach you skills to reduce your stress
level. Body or energy work might be suggested to improve lymphatic
circulation, release areas of physical or energetic tension or
/ Spiritual Health:
Part of your first stages of care will be an assessment of your
social support network. An N.D. might suggest an appropriate counsellor,
support groups or other community resources that are available
to those dealing with breast cancer. They might also provide some
counselling themselves. Examining your emotional state is critical
to the healing process, and this can be facilitated through Journaling,
creative expression such as drawing or dancing, and talking with
others, whether they be family, friends, a religious advisor,
a therapist, a naturopathic doctor, or other women with cancer.
is a brief outline of how a naturopathic doctor can help you through
the journey of breast cancer. Each practitioner will bring his
or her own gifts to your care. It is important that you choose
someone with whom you feel completely comfortable, for it isn't
the N.D. who is doing the healing; they are there to serve as
a guide through the maze so that your body and spirit can heal
Sara Ballie, ND practices naturopathic medicine in Halifax, NS.
She can be reached at 902-425-0542.
Cancer Recovery - A Personal Perspective
An Inspiration for Positive Change
March 28, 1991, I was diagnosed with cancer. Ten months earlier,
my brother of 42 died of cancer. I was 41 when I was diagnosed.
It wasn't hard to see a family trend here. My brother's cancer
had been allowed to flourish, due to inadequate and therefore
delayed diagnosis. Mine too had been undetected and allowed to
thrive for two years prior ro an accurate diagnosis.
than this initial and potentially fatal mis diagnosis, the medical
attention that I received was wonderful. I underwent surgery,
six months of chemotherapy, more surgery and a month of radiation.
All my doctors gave me lots of their time to answer my many written
and spontaneous questions, treated me with respect and empathy.
I expressed to each of them my interest in a holistic approach
to my treatment. Although they knew little about complementary
medicine, they portrayed supportiveness toward my pursuit of whatever
I felt would complete my treatment. I felt like an equal partner
in any decisions made about my care and treatment.
that time I had an interest of maybe three years in pursuing complementary
medicine approaches as well as becoming vegetarian. I had difficulty
in finding a complementary medical doctor that I had faith in,
although I went through various phases of serving up plates of
different combinations of pills to my husband for supper. Therefore
I had not, to this point in time, arrived at a programme of healthy
choices that I was committed to.
the weekend following my diagnosis, I persuaded my husband to
go buy Fit For Life I, by Marilyn and Harvey Diamond. Following
the four basic principles presented by the Diamonds made it very
easy to start making healthy food choices and food combinations.
My dear husband also went out and bought me a juicer after the
Diamonds had extolled the benefits of juicing. I am still juicing
my year of treatment, the only social group that I continued participation
in were those that I knew to be positive and also approached death
without fear. Through this I continually got nothing but positive
suggestions and a positive outlook about dealing with the challenge
of cancer recovery. It was one of these suggestions that led me
to Dr. LaValley, MD. and homeopath in Chester, Nova Scotia. At
his suggestion I waited until I finished chemotherapy before pursuing
complementary approaches. Had I lived closed, he would have assisted
me through the conventional treatment phase.
LaValley prescribed a number of lifestyle changes. He had a holistic
approach from cleaning up:
1) the air I breathed
2) the water I drank
3) the food I ate - live [organic whenever possible] foods like
fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains
1) specific supplements for my needs
2) homeopathic medicine
also encouraged me to continue with
1) my mind over matter approaches,
2) my psycho-spiritual connection to my health.
LaValley referred me to Dr. Speckhardt, MD. and Oncologist in
Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Speckhardt uses an experimental approach
of assessing disease presence in the body. Since the modern medical
field is unable to determine the metastasizing of my type of cancer
and figure that I have 50% chance of having it spread, I am kind
of excited about this approach. It is a method that has it's roots
grounded in Europe where homeopathy is often the most frequently
used approach to medicine.
Besides telling me of my genetic predisposition to cancer and
other things, he identified the triggering substances present
in my body. For the most part this was attributed to pollutants
from my Saint John days. These were present and measured in my
body on my first visit to Dr. Speckhardt. As well I have a sensitivity
(allergic like response) to mercury and wheat. I am in the process
of changing all my fillings.
seven homeopathic remedies, Dr. Speckhardt prescribed tamoxifen
(the same non-aggressive chemotherapy that my oncologist here
prescribed) and ESSIAC. ESSIAC is a herbal tonic that nurse Rene
Cassie (essiac reversed) in her Toronto Cancer Clinic used quite
successfully with terminally ill cancer patients for 14 years
in the 40's and 50's. Dr. Speckhardt gave me two addresses that
he knew of where ESSIAC was sold. At the time it was ilegal to
sell ESSIAC in Canada - so I had to import it as dog tonic.
main purpose of ESSIAC is to build up one's immune system and
to rid the body of toxins. This is also the focus of homeopathy
treatment. Six months after my using ESSIAC, Dr. Speckhardt measured
no presence of the Saint John toxic pollutants in my body. After
five weeks use, my energy levels picked up significantly.
been given a list of supplements from Dr. LaValley that included
whole foods, antioxidants, vitamins, co-enzymes, bioflavonoids,
enzymes, etc. The listing was in order of priority and he suggested
that I work my way down the list in purchasing them as I could
addition to the complementary medical approaches I also used mind
over matter techniques. I and my husband did a visualization tape
to help me get through the chemotherapy. I went to bioenergetics
to deal with the mind/body relationship. I went to a chiropractor
to deal with the increased pain in my back caused by the cancer
treatments. I now do daily visualizations to keep a cutting edge
on handling stress. For physical fitness, I walk and rebound (a
mini trampoline - a good work out for the lymph system - good
for pushing those little cancer cells through and out the body).
For spiritual fitness, I continue my affiliation with my Ministry,
pray, maintain a healing journal with a seven day candle on it
and develop my own sense of my personal spirituality.
that I have searched and developed my own truly holistic approach
to health and well-being, and urge each of you to do the same.
I realize I was very lucky, perhaps touched by the grace of God
in surviving my cancer crisis. I could have just as easily joined
my brother. It is imperative that you take charge of your health
before a chronic disease sets in.
has been 11 years since my diagnosis. I have read numerous books
and articles and attended workshops to educate myself on becoming
responsible for my own health. I no longer expect the doctor to
make me healthy. I do hope (for modern medicine certainly doesn't
have all the cures) that allopaths can help if I develop any future
chronic disease, but I will be doing my part to prevent disease.
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