Prevent or Treat?
Veronica came to see me. She looked very stressed and worried which made me wonder what type of cancer she had and how bad it was. However, her story was different. She had been encouraged by her friend Betina to schedule an appointment with me.
Betina had been seeing me for some time. She had breast cancer and was undergoing treatment from her oncologist. However, she had asked me for as much supportive help as I could give her, both in general and to help reduce some of the toxic effects of the chemotherapy. Veronica, on the other hand, was interested in prevention.
I had the usual introductory consultation with Veronica, explaining some of the potential causes of cancer and then how we could help to reduce her risk. I then advised her on diet, how to avoid many of the toxins that she was exposed to through her current diet and household cleaning products. We discussed aspects of her lifestyle that she could change, and ways to deal with the stress she was under.
Veronica still had the look of worry on her face and I wondered if there was more to her story that she wasn’t telling me so I explored further, “Was there anything else?” I asked.
“No, not really.” She paused, and I gave her time to gather her thoughts. Then she blurted out……
“You seem to be telling me to do the same things that you advised Betina to do, although what you asked her to do was a bit more involved. Maybe you plan to give me more next time? Is it that you think I have cancer too? This is what I was frightened about in the first place. I know it is silly, but after spending time with Betina and seeing what she is going through, I keep imagining any tiny symptom I have might just be the start of cancer somewhere in my body, and I know the treatment is horrendous. I don’t know if I could go through with it.”
“No,” I assured her. “I have no reason to think you have cancer. I am not hiding anything from you. It is not something that you should be worrying about. On the other hand, since the average person of your age has a fifty per cent chance of developing cancer, it is wise to do all you can to prevent it.”
But why are you making the same suggestions to me as you have done to Betina?”
I assured her that I had gone a lot further with Betina. I also pointed out that, as a Naturopath, I was concerned about and focused on prevention and restoring normal function as opposed to attacking or forcibly removing the most obvious signs of a problem. I explained that this applied both to people with and without cancer.
Cancer is a systemic process and is not confined to the tumour, even if there is no obvious sign of spread. As such, while someone has cancer there is also the probability that new cancer cells are forming. Thus, the first step is to do what you can to prevent this process from continuing. To that extent my suggestions to Veronica and Betina and were similar. The next step is to recommend whatever nutritional and plant remedies I can that are known to reduce angiogenesis (the spread of more blood vessels to support a growing tumour) , to increase apoptosis (the death of abnormal cells), to strengthen the connective tissues (to reduce the risk of metastasis or spread), boost the immune system, and more.
After further discussion, Veronica was satisfied that I wasn’t keeping anything from her. She then became enthused about all that she could do to keep herself as safe as possible, and left looking a lot happier than she had when she arrived.