As an addendum to my last post, I would like to express my thoughts in regards to holistic medicine. I am a big proponent of holistic medicine.

Holistic medicine in my view is the pursuit of optimum health in all aspects: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. It’s about balance and overall wellbeing, not just physical health and comfort.

A cancer diagnosis effects one’s health in all of these areas, our bodies are sick, we are mentally overwhelmed, we experience a roller coaster of emotions, our social lives are turned upside down and if we haven’t already, we truly start to explore our spiritual lives. Medical care in a physical sense only deals with one aspect of a cancer diagnosis. And I do believe that for the best outcomes, we need to work to achieve optimum health in all areas, we need holistic therapy.

While I don’t believe in the extremes of “my repressed thought caused my cancerous tumor” (a notion that can carry with it overwhelming unhealthy guilt), I do believe that when all areas of our being are in optimum health, we will have better outcomes. Inner peace and wellbeing does help our body function better, it can have a positive effect on our appetite, our sleep patterns, even the functioning of our immune systems. I am fascinated by the relatively new branch of medicine that deals with how our mental state impacts our nervous system and hormonal systems, psychoneuroimmunology. It’s an evolving field I am closely watching.

For purposes of clarification, complementary therapies are therapies that complement traditional medical care. So if I used an herbal remedy in addition to my chemotherapy, it would be considered a complementary therapy.

An alternative therapy is one in which a therapy is used instead of, or as an alternative to, conventional therapy. So for example if I used an herbal supplement instead of chemo, it would be considered an alternative therapy.

A good site to check out in evaluating complementary and alternative therapies is the US National Institutes of Health site:

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

I’ve tried to and hope to continue to make my web site “holistic”, hence the addition of some of the reading material, the blog, information about hospice and discussion of the emotional aspects of diagnosis and treatment. I hope to add more about nutrition and support groups and other supportive services as my site evolves. Suggestions are welcome and appreciated!