Integrative Oncology – Supporting Health and Healing Throughout the Cancer Continuum

Integrative medicine can be defined as healing oriented care that takes account of the whole person – body, mind and spirit, family, community and environment. It is not the same as alternative medicine, a term that implies conventional medical treatment will be avoided, an approach we do not recommend. Integrative medicine makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and complementary, while promoting healthy diet and lifestyle practices, too. The approach encourages patients to be active participants in their health care, emphasizing the therapeutic relationship between patient and health care professional. In this setting, however, the practitioner’s role is different. It is primarily to facilitate the proper functioning of each patient’s innate healing capacity, as well as to help prevent and manage disease with an eye toward promoting optimal health and healing. Not surprisingly, it is women who have been the strongest proponents of the integrative approach to care.

Integrative oncology represents an extension of the integrative medicine philosophy, again combining the best of conventional and complementary medical practices to support successful treatment of cancer while maintaining safety and optimizing quality of life. It aims, foremost, to help prevent cancer. If the disease should somehow develop, an integrative practitioner will partner with the patient in a way that honors their uniqueness and helps them take control of their health. Typically, there is an emphasis on reasonable diet and lifestyle practices both during active treatment to reduce side effects and promote health, as well as following treatment to support both health and healing. Personalized recommendations may include guidance about the safe and effective use of supplements and medicinal herbs, appropriate methods for stress management, and select complementary therapies including acupuncture, oncology-certified massage therapy, energy healing with reiki or Therapeutic Touch, and gentle yoga. These approaches are often effective in helping manage issues such as pain, insomnia and fatigue. They can also promote peace of mind and support overall balance.

Most people get information about complementary and alternative medicine from the Internet, mainstream media, or their local health food store clerk, yet the majority of consumers would prefer to get that information from their medical team. Well-trained integrative oncology staff can help you distinguish between credible information and misinformation, work with you to co-create an individualized program toward optimal health, and help empower you to be an active participant in your care both during and after treatment.

If you are at risk for cancer, are currently receiving care for the disease, or have completed treatment, our team would be honored to serve you. You can call Novant Health Integrative Medicine directly in Charlotte, 704-316-5222; or in Winston-Salem, 336-277-6009. You can also visit www.novanthealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine.

Dr. Andrew Weil

If you are curious about integrative oncology, a unique opportunity to learn more is coming on Oct. 26, 2019, as Novant Health will host the first annual Integrative Medicine Symposium at The Ritz Carlton in Charlotte. This day of the symposium is designed for anyone interested in learning how they might prevent cancer, as well as to help meet the needs of people affected by cancer (including caregivers) during treatment and beyond. Keynote speaker for the event is best-selling author and industry leader in integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil.

Whether you are a cancer patient, a cancer survivor or a family member or friend of someone diagnosed with the disease, we invite you to come learn about healthy ways to eat, vitamins and supplements, and mind and body practices that can promote healing.

Find out more or register for the event at www.novanthealth.org/IntegrativeMed2019