In general terms, cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that multiply and grow in an uncontrolled way, and in some cases spread from their original location. Cancer cells don’t act alone. They enlist the body’s normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels in their efforts to survive and spread.
Cancer cells don’t abide by the same checks and balances that normal cells are controlled by. They switch on and off certain genes and proteins in the body, create their own blood vessels to get nutrients for growth and have little tricks that let them hide from our immune system so they can’t be detected.
Think of cancer as a weed and your body as the soil that cancer might try to grow in. Healthy soil is more likely to promote growth of plants and flowers while unhealthy soil promotes growth of weeds (cancer). Conventional therapies like chemotherapy or surgery work to remove the weed which is obviously helpful and necessary BUT doesn’t take into account the soil.
So, what we need to do is make the soil (our body) inhospitable to cancer and this is where natural medicine really shines. Many of the healing practices that natural medicine promotes including diet, physical activity, natural supplements, and stress management help to modify the terrain and the tumour microenvironment, making the body inhospitable to cancer.
There are some key areas that need to be addressed because cancer thrives when any of these are out of balance:
- Oxidative stress
- Blood coagulation (blood clotting or stickiness)
- Glycaemia (elevated blood sugar)
Natural Ways to Support Those Diagnosed with Cancer
Nutrition and diet are vital to fighting cancer. Because cancer uses your biochemistry to grow and spread, the environment in which cancer cells live is as important as cancer itself. One of the easiest ways to change this environment (the soil) is through your diet. There is no one size fits all cancer diet so I will tailor any dietary changes depending on the type of cancer you have, personal preferences and the stage of treatment you are at.
There is an ever-expanding body of evidence supporting the numerous benefits of exercise for people in all stages of cancer treatment. Exercise helps reduce cancer treatment side effects, improves efficacy of treatment and tolerance to treatment, boosts immune function and is also associated with a reduced risk of recurrence. I can advise on basic ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine as well as refer you to experts in the field if you require increased support.
Nutritional & Herbal Medicine
I use specific nutritional and herbal medicine supplements as part of your treatment plan to help reduce short and long-term side-effects of conventional treatment, sensitise cancer cells to treatment and support recovery from your treatment. All supplements I prescribe are based on research studies and are chosen specifically for you. Care is always taken to ensure there is no chance of negative interactions between nutritional and herbal supplements and conventional treatment. I only use practitioner only products that have been scientifically validated and tested.
Stress Reduction & Mindfulness
Our minds, emotions and cognitive and behavioural factors affect biology, immunology and biochemistry. Science has long demonstrated the connection between mental-emotional factors, human physiology, and cancer treatment efficacy. Psychological stressors are known to have a significant impact on your body’s immune response and some research indicates that simple but deliberate daily relaxation practices can produce changes in gene expression that may help inhibit specific cancer-promoting factors while enhancing treatment and health.
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
- Lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin
- Weight changes, including unintended weight loss or gain
- Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening or redness of the skin, sores that won’t heal, or changes to existing moles
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Persistent cough or trouble breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating
- Persistent, unexplained muscle or joint pain
- Persistent, unexplained fevers or night sweats
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
- FBE- measures haemoglobin, platelets and white blood cells
- U&Es- kidney function and electrolyte levels
- CRP/HsCRP- marker of inflammation
- Vitamin D levels
- Iron studies
- Zinc levels
- Copper levels
- B12 & folate levels
- Fasting glucose
- Fasting insulin
- Omega-3 index
- Thyroid profile
- Oestrogen & oestrogen metabolites
- Cortisol levels
- Individual genetic testing
- Microbiome testing
Adjunctive Oncology Treatment
How can Emily help me if I have cancer?
I work with clients at all stages of cancer treatment and treatment priorities change depending on where you are in your cancer treatment. Using research informed recommendations, the primary goals of integrative oncology are to:
- Reduce short and long-term side effects of conventional treatment
- Enhance the efficacy and outcomes of conventional treatment
- Support your overall health and wellbeing
- Support your recovery from surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other targeted therapies
- Reduce the risk of recurrence
Having worked as an oncology nurse for a number of years, I have a special interest in supporting clients with cancer. I have undergone further study in Oncology Nursing with Melbourne University and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and in Integrative Oncology with the American Institute of Integrative Oncology.
Can Food be Medicine Against Cancer?- Dr David Wilkinson
The Definitive Guide to Thriving After Cancer- Lise Alschuler & Karolyn Gazella
Radical Hope- Kelly Turner
Life Over Cancer- Keith Block