Thursday, October 27, 2011

Night 2 of Healing Cancer World Summit: Dr. Contreras & Dr. Connealy

Again, I have to wonder why you aren't taking in these amazing informative and empowering interviews with integrative and alternative cancer experts...for  I am so appreciative of the opportunity to learn what is out there for resources besides the usual options of surgery-chemo-and/or-radiation. It is interesting to note that the two clinicians I listened to, Dr. Francisco Contreras and Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy, both MDs, are careful to point out that they do sometimes direct patients to make use of conventional treatments (as above), but always with 'adjunct' natural therapies and care.

Before I listened to the interviews I was on Twitter for a bit and read the circulating article by Dr. Andrew Weill (maybe one of the best-known integrative docs) concerning the outpouring of venom (it doesn't quite sound like grief)against the "alternative cancer" treatment that "failed [the late] Steve Jobs". Pancreatic cancer is one tough cancer to manage, either way. People, we don't know all the details, and we don't know how the outcomes would be if he had undergone surgery... the prognosis is usually not great.

What I have found in my own experience(and blessedly, I have not had to deal with a diagnosis of cancer)is that most of the conventional medical practitioners I have been to have been busy beyond belief and have been trained mostly to bypass any suggestions as to how to help me with suggestions around lifestyle changes in preference to getting out the prescription pad. On the other hand, the alternative caregivers I have visited seem to want to hear my own take on-- well-- my own body. I have never felt like an increasingly more invisible older woman who will take up residence in their waiting room if they encourage me with too much interest in how I am feeling or coping or what I have tried. But I digress...

Dr. Contreras is actually an oncology surgeon for anyone who might jump to conclusions tars all "alternative" doctors with the same brush ("quack" being the standard slur if anything but MD appears after the caregiver's name). He grew up with a pioneer in the 'alternative health' field, his father, Dr. Ernesto Contreras. Together they worked in the small cancer hospital in Mexico called "Oasis of Hope" to honour one of his father's former patients, who, written off by the allopathic medical system in the US stated that the Contreras's program offered him an "oasis of hope". The name really meshes with their philosophical foundation. Where they see "the World" (i.e.,conventional medicine)focused mainly on destroying the tumor (which hasn't worked all that well), they chose early on to make the patient the focus of their work-- to provide all the resources they have access to to meet individual needs, to do no harm, and to love the patients as themselves, the hallmark of a Christian medical practice, which is, indeed, what they are. Their natural and adjunct therapies include everything from prayer to laughter to painting the walls mauve, the most immune-stimulating of all colours. If you want to read statistics of their patients' survival rates stacked against those of the conventional studies (using the same criteria involving lab tests, xrays and markers for cancer)go to

Quotes from Dr. Contreras: "Buy into the diagnosis, but don't buy into the prognosis"... "Cancer is not the killer-- Hopelessness is the killer."
Dr.Leigh Erin Connealy is the Director of the Center of New Medicine in California. Dr. Connealy's mother had been prescribed DES when pregnant with her, the medication of the time meant to prevent morning sickness that has since shown to promote breast cancer in the offspring of the pregnant women. (My sister-in-law grew up with stained dark yellow teeth as a result of this medication, and developed breast cancer in her forties). Dr. Connealy went on a journey to find the best resources in her own health management. Around the same time a number of patients asked her questions about 'natural treatments' and prevention. She was motivated to find answers to their questions and was very attracted to practicing integrative medicine as a result. Like Dr. Contreras, she hasn't "thrown the baby out with the bath water"-- there is still a recognized time and place for conventional, more invasive therapies, but her focus is on educating and empowering her patients to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. Dr. Connealy talked about preventative and treatment measures such as diet, water, exercise, detox and breathing, and the use of certain medicinal herbs. She strongly suggests that everyone-- those with cancer and those without-- should follow an anti-cancer lifestyle. Dr. Connealy has written the book "Be Perfectly Healthy" and has a new book coming out soon.

Both of these speakers have inspired me to make a few lifestyle changes I need to make to start to feel healthier and to ramp up my immune system.

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