..The Intuitive Times
Naturopathic View


Naturopath View on Breast Cancer

by Dr. Sara Ballie, ND

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Breast 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.

The 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 moving regularly.

Herbs and Supplements:
(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.

Lifestyle Choices:
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 treat pain.

Emotional / 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.

This 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 themselves.

Dr. 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

On 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.

Other 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.

At 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.

During 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 today.

During 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.

Dr. 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

He also introduced:
1) specific supplements for my needs
2) homeopathic medicine

He also encouraged me to continue with
1) my mind over matter approaches,
2) my psycho-spiritual connection to my health.

Dr. 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.

Besides 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.

The 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.

I had 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 afford it.

In 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.

I believe 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.

It 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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