Integrative Oncology

The best of class on integrative Oncology!

Donald Abrams MD and Andrew Weil MD.

altDon’t let this title fool you. This book is a thoughtful and thorough practical addition to the literature or better yet the tools for the growing integrative healing model of medicine. As for its connection to guided imagery the better-informed client, patient, caregivers are regarding the current state of medicine and the spirit mind body paradigm the better able practitioners and patients communicate.

Alternative Healing and Complementary Medicine

This latest addition to the integrative medicine Library, published in 2009 has a number of important dynamics. Donald Abram’s stated audience are the health care providers who seek up to date, comprehensive, user friendly source of information that will be relevant to the care of their patients. In his preface, Donald goes on to say, “integrative oncology can be defined as the rational, evidence-based combination of conventional therapy with complementary interventions into an individualized therapeutic regime that addresses the whole person living with and beyond cancer -- body, mind, and spirit. The number of cancer patients and survivors incorporating complementary modalities into their treatment program is difficult to estimate precisely but seems to be large and on the increase”.

I took the liberty of using Dr. Abrams first name Donald intentionally, because I have the privilege of having my daughter Eva as his patient and he encourages us to call him by his first name. The essence of the practice of integrated oncology is the personalization and compassion between one person to another. It’s the art of listening, being informed and being open to treatments that have spanned entire civilizations. Even though this book has as its primary audience the healthcare provider it is my position that the material found in this book is in fact as relevant to the client patient in that it gives the client patient an appreciation of the literature that is currently being read and made available in the field of complementary alternative medicine. An informed patient is a better patient and is better served by the practitioner.

There are a number of passages that share a vital message, which is the essence of this book, which is a compassion and deep respect for the spirit mind body paradigm. The chapter on mind-body medicine and integrative cancer care identifies five key approaches that have a special tonality with guided imagery: Relaxation techniques, guided imagery, meditation, hypnosis, and interactive guided imagery. These modalities all combine a form of inner spirit mind body attention. Each description is precise in its language and simple in its definition. It merely informs, but does so with a degree of optimism. That optimism continues as a pattern throughout this book. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen captures the shift that illness plays in our daily lives. "... Illness can shuffle our values like a deck of cards. Sometimes a card we carried at the bottom of our deck turns out to be the top card, the thing that really matters... often a shift in values and perspective is a slow process and is achieved before we even fully realize that we have been changed by our experience". Our experiences are what it’s all about and the end of this book the point is poignantly made.

I was reassured by this works integrity by the second to last chapter, “The Role of Spirituality”. The definition put forth advances the concept very pragmatically and sans apologies, " In the broadest sense, spirituality is focused on purpose, meaning and connectedness with self, others and a higher power. Spirituality is recognized as an integral part of being human. Spiritual issues: grief, loss, pain, suffering, shock, denial, fear, hopelessness, spiritual distress, despair, isolation, are examples of spiritual issues faced by patients”. Another quote from a title "close to the bone" tells about the impact of a serious illness in a person's life, "a life threatening illness", as the impact of the stone hitting the still surface of a lake, in sending concentric rings of disturbances out, as feelings, thoughts and reactions radiate out from this in a center. It impacts relationships, it stirs the depth of others, and potentially brings the patient and those who are affected - Close to the bone”.

The editors wisely close by following their own advice. Listening to the narrative from the patient’s perspective. “A Patient's Perspective” offers a scenario that is often all to common. The ups and downs and ups and finally the highs. Advice to take to heart; “ developing a treatment plan that makes you feel comfortable, tap into your minds healing power, simplify your life by resolving the sources of stress, stay positive, and with a touch of humor. In closing, a good life is summarized in 3 " H's". They are in order of importance: happiness, health, and ...hmmm, I forget the third one.” (ed. We are left to our own devices mine is to imagine that HMMMMM as a sense of HUMOR).

Integrated oncology doesn't forget the H, which is HELP - that the practice of integrative oncology helps the clinical team better address the patient's total care. Integrated Oncology as the hope for a new medicine, a new medicine that focuses on the individual patient and the new medicine that referred to doctors turning to the mind for healing, the deeper mind, the spirit mind body.

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