Alternative/Complimentary Therapies, anxiety and cancer, Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Side Effects of Chemotherapy, stress and cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer, Uncategorized, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Conventional vs. Alternative Medicine ~ can’t we all just get along?

Ok, I’d like to have an open and honest chat about different avenues of healing and how I’ve struggled. Us cancer patients/thrivers want to support ourselves in every way possible to both cure cancer now and forever ~ we see lots of doctors, read books, talk to fellow cancer peeps, and do research online. Actually, we do A LOT of research online which can sometimes lead to exciting discoveries and more often, it leads to a full on-set of Google-itus (panic attack + frozen in fear + holy-shit-everything-causes-cancer-including-the-treatments-I’m-going-to-die-and-it-won’t-be-pretty syndrome). Just me?

 

Cancer can be treated different ways. There is the more common conventional route, also known as modern medicine, which usually includes a combo of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormone therapies. And there is the alternative route, also known as natural medicine, which treats cancer with various natural modalities such as nutrition, juicing, cleansing, herbs, supplements, mind/body work, vitamin infusions, and other therapies.

 

I’m noticing most people fall into one camp or the other.

 

I seem to be a rare bird. Someone who sees SO MUCH love, knowledge, value, and benefit in BOTH worlds. This is why I chose to do a combined approach for healing. I had a good experience while undergoing 18 months of cancer treatment and if you could see me now, you would have no clue that I have been through 5 months of aggressive chemo, 2 surgeries, 5 ½ weeks of radiation, and am currently on Tamoxifen. I look and feel great, and I attribute this to going into the experience with a clear mind and supporting myself with many natural ways of healing too: yoga, inquiry, acupuncture, nutrition, juicing, supplements, emotional releasing, and sound healing to name a few. So yes, I do drugs and nature.

I do drugs and nature 🙂

 

I’m a plant-based organic-eating yogini who also believes in science-based medicine, and this has been one of my biggest challenges: the war between conventional and alternative medicine. They trash the shit out of each other!

 

When trying to support myself in learning natural ways to heal and ease side effects, it was nearly impossible to find an article or study that did not bash chemo, radiation, and surgery. Statements like “chemo only creates cancer and kills people,” “the cancer will come back even worse if you do conventional medicine,” “it’s all a big pharma conspiracy ~ they are just trying to keep you sick so they can make money.”

 

As someone who said yes to what my conventional doctors recommended, this created a lot of fear and shame. I reached a point where it just felt kinder to myself to stop consulting the almighty Google and focus on being present with myself.

 

But then there’s a flip side. When reading articles about conventional medicine or talking to some of my doctors, I noticed many would immediately discredit natural therapies as pure “quackery,” and completely ignore the many accounts of people being healed, for years, without any use of conventional medicine. “That’s impossible. A total waste of time and money. How dare they take advantage of these vulnerable human beings.” Then there are also stories of naturopathic doctors who have mysteriously gone missing after claiming they found a cure for cancer. Or they are faced with legal charges making their medical practice illegal.

 

As someone who has experienced so many benefits from my yoga & meditation practices, eating a clean diet, doing acupuncture, and incorporating more supplements, this left me feeling frustrated and annoyed that doctors weren’t more interested in this. “Hey – look at me! I’m actually enjoying cancer! Don’t ya wanna know why/how?”

 

And if the overwhelming amount of conflicting information isn’t enough, I see people harshly judging each other for their choices in treatment, both in person and also all over social media, forums, & online.

 

It’s tough. I don’t know what is true and what is not. I see valuable points on each side. I’m not a doctor, a scientist, or an expert with healing plants. All I have is my experience of the cancer journey and this part has been hard for me. I have felt torn, confused, and overwhelmed…oh wait, stress causes cancer too! Ahhhhh!!!!

 

I know people who have died after the use of conventional medicine. I know people who are completely healed by it. I know people who have died after the use of natural medicine. I know people who are healed or in the process of healing from it. There are bonuses and risks in both paths; neither carries a guaranteed cure. There are good days and hard days in both paths too, neither is a joyous party 100% of the time.

 

So why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t we just accept that there is more than one way to heal cancer? Why do we need to put down another healing path in order to share and promote our own? Think about it. If you are really set in your beliefs about medicine (or anything), in which scenario are you more willing to change them? When someone comes at you with insults or when someone invites you to an open-hearted conversation rooted in experience and research?

 

In my medical utopia, I see both sides coming together as one. Dropping the judgments and criticism, the shaming and anger, and being more open to learning from each other. We all have the same goal: to cure cancer and live long, happy, healthy lives.

 

So how can we end this war?

 

Simple. I can control every word that is posted on the internet and every word that comes out of your mouth. Easy peasy. Right?

Or…

It starts with me. I can stop trashing conventional and alternative medicine for trashing each other. I can stop seeing them as two separate sides in my own mind. I can focus on the wonderful and helpful ways I have healed from cancer and share them with others. I can stop being defensive/taking things personally when someone questions my treatment choices. I can be open and excited to learn from others who did not choose the same healing path. I can be a compassionate, non-judgmental listener when someone complains about their experience. I can make peace within myself over any shame or guilt I have carried for my own choices.

 

Ok, this sounds great…but HOW?

 

The Work of Byron Katie. I take my stressful thoughts and judgments about doctors, medicine, treatment, myself, and others to inquiry. I sit in meditation with the 4 questions and turnarounds and I free myself from the war within. It leaves me more open, more available, and more authentic with myself and others.

 

When I read articles or watch documentaries, I not only take notes on what I’d like to incorporate into my own life or ask my doctors about, I take notes on stressful thoughts that come up from the words that I read. See…it all can be a gift. Bringing me back to my work. My awakening.

 

When I do my work, my mind opens to see that my “medical utopia dream” is actually more of a reality than I realize. I remember that my conventional doctors talked to me about nutrition, yoga, meditation, acupuncture…they even recommended writing. My Chinese Medical doctor encouraged my use of conventional therapies and he offered acupuncture and herbs that not only helped to ease side effects, they helped the medicine to work more efficiently. Last week, my Dermatologist recommended using essential oils for scarring. How cool!

 

My practice keeps coming back to this: There is no single right or wrong way to heal. We all do what is right for us. For me, the most important part of my healing path is peace.

 

If you’re looking to find more peace around any type of diagnosis (from cancer, to allergies, to low back pain), I invite you to join me and my dear friend, Helena, for our upcoming online class series, “Making Peace with Disease using The Work of Byron Katie” that starts December 4th. Save $30 when you register by tomorrow. You can join from the comfort of your home and even stay in your PJ’s. I won’t judge 😉

 

And let’s keep this conversation flowing…how else can we work together to create a more harmonious, healing experience for all?

Image result for byron katie quote defense is the first act of war

Work with me…

Schedule a private session

New online series! Making Peace with Disease through The Work of Byron Katie: Dec 4 – Jan 21 

Yoga, Inquiry, Gong Meditation: November 9

Yoga & The Work ~ Teacher Training: November 19 & January 14

 

Related blog posts…

Alternative/Complimentary Therapies for My Breast Cancer Treatment

Inquiry: “Chemo is poisonous to my body” ~ is it true?

All-Natural Remedies for Chemo Side Effects

Mental Medicine: The Work of Byron Katie

 

Advertisements
anxiety and cancer, Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Post Treatment, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Side Effects of Chemotherapy, stress and cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Diagnostic Testing without Stressing

Last week, I was lying in a twisty yoga pose when I felt some new lumpy tissue above my left breast. “Perfect timing!” I thought, since my next follow-up appointment with my breast surgeon was just around the corner. I felt zero anxiety, zero stress leading up to the appointment.

Today during my visit, I had two different doctors explore the lumps with their hands and then they did a sonogram. I noticed thoughts arise my mind, “The cancer is back! This can’t be good!” accompanied by scary images of the future. Yet, I didn’t believe them. I clearly saw that they are not real, in this moment it’s just imagination.

Do you know what I experienced instead?

Pure gratitude for reality. Gratitude for the lumps showing up, gratitude for the trained experts, and gratitude for the sonogram machine that can further investigate what’s going on in my body.

My breast surgeon then said, “It all looks good! See you in 6 months.”

5 Steps to Clear Scanxiety

Do you feel anxious, worried, & fearful when it comes to doctor appointments and diagnostic tests? If so, you are so not alone. Whether you’re simply scheduling the appointment, driving to the exam, sitting in the waiting room, getting your boob squashed, or being rolled in and out of a magnetic test tube…it’s possible to be at peace.

Here are 5 simple steps that have helped me deal with the oh-so-common Scanxiety:

  1. Connect with your breath.

Notice where your breath is in your body. Begin to focus your breath on your belly. Take a deep breath in through the nose, and a nice long exhale out through the mouth.

  1. Touch something solid.

Use your hands to touch something solid – the chair, a wall, the table. Feel the floor beneath your feet, your hips on the chair, or your back or stomach on the exam table.

  1. Notice your surroundings.

Become a witness of what is around you. See the shapes, colors, and textures. Notice the sounds – the voices, the music, the machinery. Take in the smells (ok, maybe not!). Observe the movement of people around you. See the kindness in people’s eyes.

  1. Question your thinking.

If you feel stress, pause and notice your thoughts. “This will be painful…The results will be bad”…and ask yourself these 2 questions from The Work of Byron Katie: Can I absolutely know it’s true in this moment? Who would I be, right here, right now without the thought?

  1. Remember it’s all here FOR you.

The doctors, the nurses, the staff, the needles, the drugs, the lighting, the equipment, the music, the warm blanket…it’s all here for you. To support you. To get a clear picture of what’s going on in your body. To help you heal. To give you the next direction.

And if you try these 5 steps and epically fail…that’s all good too! You are free to freak the f*ck out. There is nothing wrong with you. Forgive yourself. Begin again. There will always be another opportunity to practice in Life School, I promise.

Work with me…

Schedule a private session

New online series! Making Peace with Disease through The Work of Byron Katie: Dec 4 – Jan 21 

Exploring Mind/Body ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: October 21

Yoga, Inquiry, Gong Meditation: November 9

Yoga & The Work ~ Teacher Training: November 19 & January 14

 

Related blog posts…

What if Fear is just a Fart?

Inquiry: “The cancer is spreading” ~ is it true?

How I Found Peace during “The Waiting Game”

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness

Alternative/Complimentary Therapies, Cancer Diagnosis, chemotherapy, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Side Effects of Chemotherapy, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

All Natural Remedies for Chemo Side Effects

This post is for anyone looking for natural & effective ways of dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy.

So here you are, about to take the next step into your healing cancer treatment plan: chemotherapy, which I affectionately now call “C-Love.” Take a look in the mirror at that sweet, beautiful face. You are strong. Fearless. Or possibly scared shitless?

If you’re like me, you may have heard 1,000 horror stories about chemo and I’m here to tell you that it just wasn’t my experience. Do you think your body has a better opportunity to heal when you are cursing and fearing your treatment or accepting it with gratitude? I chose to receive C-Love as a healing cleanse for my body. I envisioned my healthy cells being protected and anything that no longer serves me being washed away. I chose to see the good in all things ~ the needles, the nurses, the
drugs, the side effects. Chemo taught me how to slow down, focus on me, and love myself unconditionally. How to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and connect with others. How to see I am always supported, even when I’m not feeling so hot. There were some hard times, a lot of easy/fun times, and some hilarious times. Open your mind to the blessings that are always around you ~ I promise, they are there.

I noticed different sensations would come and go and I LOVED learning all-natural ways to support my body and mind. So here is a list of what worked for me. I invite you to see what you’re drawn to, clear anything necessary with your doctor, and find what works for you. You’ve so got this!

Overall Health & Wellbeing thru the Cancer Journey

(click links for more guidance on each therapy)

Yoga

Breathing

Meditation

The Work of Byron Katie

Walking

Rebounding

Acupuncture

Nutrition

Supplements

Emotional Releasing

Writing

Art

Essential Oils

Sound Healing

 

Low Immunity

  • Eat organic, plant-based diet with lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy, soy (ALL soy- especially for estrogen-positive cancers). If you eat meat, choose all-natural meats with no growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Organic Raw Vegetable Juices
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea (click link for recipes)
  • Warm Water w/Lemon
  • Curcumin Supplement
  • Garden of Life Organic Multi-Vitamin
  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Vitamin C
  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Probiotic
  • Vitamin D
  • Calm Magnesium & Calcium Supplement
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Do you think your body has a better opportunity to heal when you are at peace and loving life or when you are stressed and angry? When you are cursing and fearing your treatment or accepting it with gratitude? Question your stressful thoughts and find peace during the cancer journey.
  • Daily movement like walking, yoga, dancing, swimming, rebounding.
  • Time relaxing in nature
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Wash hands frequently and avoid touching face & mouth.
  • Keep all-natural hand sanitizer in purse.
  • Avoid crowded places, especially during nadir days ~ when WBC (white blood count) is lowest.

 

Nausea

  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea
  • Organic Raw Vegetable Juices
  • Curcumin Supplement
  • Eat smaller meals multiple times per day.
  • Eat blander foods and avoid spicy foods.
  • Enjoy soups, smoothies with turmeric & ginger.
  • Avoid over-eating; stop eating before you are full.
  • Gentle belly breathing
  • Take ALL medications and supplements WITH food unless directed otherwise by doctor.
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga: Practicing constructive rest position (lying on back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor) or reclining bound angle pose (lying on back, soles of the feet together, knees wide) has helped me with the stomach flutters. I place my hands on my belly and breath into them. Pelvic tilts, rocking the knees side to side, and child’s pose have been really helpful too. Avoid a lot of up and down movement.
  • Warm (not hot) showers and baths
  • Acupuncture

 

Fatigue

  • Daily movement – choose something you love – walking, yoga, rebounding, swimming, dancing – at least 30 min/day will help you to build & sustain energy.
  • Rest when you need to rest. Think of your energy level like a gas tank between each treatment ~ don’t over-do it in the beginning and pace yourself. This your time to slow down and be.
  • Master the art of napping ~ it’s AWESOME! The body heals when it sleeps.
  • Eat organic, plant-based diet with lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy, soy (ALL soy- especially for estrogen-positive cancers). If you eat meat, choose all-natural meats with no growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Believing stressful thoughts can zap your energy; clear your mind and gain greater peace by questioning your stressful thoughts.
  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Meditation
  • Breathing
  • Yoga: A short, gentle flow with supported back bends & heart openers (I prefer blocks & lots of blankets).
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical Therapy
  • Warm (not hot) showers and baths

 

Aches & Pains

  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea
  • Calm Magnesium & Calcium Supplement
  • Curcumin Supplement
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Yoga: Gentle stretching & breathing with an extended exhale. If legs are extra achey, I will lie on my back and place my legs up the wall.
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Question your stressful thoughts about pain (ex/ – “I want the pain to go away.” “I shouldn’t feel like this.”) and question stressful thoughts about what you think the pain means (ex/“It will only get worse. The cancer is spreading. I can’t live like this.”).
  • Warm (not hot) Epson Salt baths
  • Acupuncture

 

Mouth Sores

  • MUST-DO for prevention & treatment: Homemade mouth rinse ~ Add 1 tsp or baking soda + 1 tsp Sea Salt or Himalayan Crystal Salt to 20 oz of water. Rinse mouth 5-6 times per day throughout treatment. This also worked for me at the first signs of a sore throat.
  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods.
  • Ask nurses if sucking on ice while receiving chemo would be helpful (it was recommended for me while receiving the red Adriamycin drug).

 

Constipation

  • Triphala Supplement ~ helps maintain healthy flow of digestion and purifies the blood.
  • Psyllium Husks ~ helps to soften the stools so they can pass through more easily.
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea
  • Traditional Medicine’s Smooth Move Tea
  • Organic Raw Vegetable Juices
  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Eat prunes daily or drink warm prune juice
  • Avoid foods with a lot of bread, meat, dairy
  • Buy a Squatty Potty!
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga: incorporate gentle core strengthening and twists into your yoga practice.
  • With your hand, gently make circles over your belly in a clockwise direction.
  • For severe constipation, self administer an enema (uncomfortable and WORTH IT!).

 

Hemorrhoids

  • Follow above constipation remedies.
  • Replace toilet paper with all-natural, unscented baby wipes.
  • Add more oils into meals and smoothies (organic, unrefined coconut, olive, sesame oils are best).
  • Keep anus clean and apply a little coconut oil to it.
  • Acupuncture
  • Laugh on the toilet ~ come on, this is pretty ridiculous, eh? I can even tried “toilet yoga.”

 

Dry Skin

  • Keep skin well moisturized throughout treatment.
  • Use all natural (preferably organic) oil-based body products without harmful chemicals or plant-based estrogens.
  • I used organic argan oil, jojoba oil, and Juice Beauty products.

 

Chemo Brain

  • Acupuncture
  • Restorative Yoga: calming poses like forward bends, child’s pose, pigeon, legs up the wall.
  • Meditation
  • Breathing
  • Creamy Ayurvedic Spiced Latté Tea (w/Black Pepper)
  • The cancer journey can be so overwhelming with all of the new information, medical terms to learn, bills, treatments plans, mental/emotional issues…brain fog would be natural for any person going through this! Consider, where can you do less in your life? Can you make time to just relax and be?
  • Humor ~ Everybody forgets stuff, and I chose to laugh about it with myself and others instead of getting frustrated over it. Sometimes I’d remember things and if I didn’t, that’s ok too. This is an appropriate time for the mind to be mushy. Enjoy being more present – people spend a lot of money and time on forgetting the past and future!
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Question your stressful thoughts about memory (ex/ “My memory should be better. People will be angry with me (if I forget). My memory is permanently damaged.”) or about any stressful situations you may be experiencing.

 

Weight Loss

  • Increase healthy fats like avocados, olives, nuts, nut butters, seeds, coconut/olive/sesame oil.
  • Add more protein like organic beans, wild-caught salmon, and soy-free, pastuere-raised eggs.
  • Add vegan protein powder such as Hemp Protein or Vega.
  • Buy new clothes that actually fit. This was an emotional game-changer for me!
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ question any stressful thoughts about your body image (ex/ “I want my old body back. My body is too skinny/ugly. People don’t find me attractive.”).
  • Remember, this too shall pass. Bodies are always changing. This is an opportunity to love yourself regardless of your outer appearance.
  • Acupuncture
  • Eat before and after exercise.
  • Yoga: focus less on cardio movement and more on grounding & strengthening poses Warrior Poses, Triangle, Chair, Tree, Half Moon, & Goddess Pose.

 

Hair Loss

  • Before hair loss (which occurs about 2-3 weeks into treatment), consider cutting and donating your hair to a charity.
  • Have a hair shaving party with close friends and family!
  • Keep an electric razor on hand for when hair begins to fall out. When you’re ready, GI Jane that shit off!
  • Buy a wig, invite some girlfriends to come along!
  • Buy cute scarf’s, hats, wraps – I loved these: chemobeanies.com.
  • Throw a hat/scarf party.
  • If you really don’t want to lose your hair, consider getting the “Cold Cap” treatment, which may be covered by insurance.
  • Acupuncture
  • Embrace being bald ~ there are so many bonuses!
    • The most low maintenance hairstyle you’ll ever have
    • Best head massages
    • Shower at least twice per day
    • No need to buy any hair products – no shampoo, conditioner, styling spray, combs, hair ties, razors
    • Travel just got way easier
    • No more shaving! (people pay a lot of $ for this)
    • Smoothest legs you’ll ever have
    • Feel like a true badass walking around bald – OWN IT – you’re beautiful. Plus people are soooo kind when they see you’re going through cancer treatment. If we all treated each other like we were going through cancer, the world would be a happier place
    • Enjoy the fun process as it grows back – it starts with the super soft fuzzies and then maybe a new color or curlier or straighter!
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Question any stressful thoughts about your body image (ex/ “I want my old body back. I look like a sick person. People don’t find me attractive.”).

 

Hot Flashes

  • Acupuncture
  • Wear layers that can easily be stripped off in public.
  • Sleep naked
  • Sleep next to a fan
  • Apply a cold wash clothe on forehead.
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Breathing

 

Acid Reflux or Indigestion

  • Avoid acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, and vinegars.
  • Take Papaya enzymes before meals.
  • Eat small meals more frequently.
  • Drink warm water with meals.
  • Sleep with the head elevated above the heart.

byronkatiequote

© 2016 Bethany Webb. All rights reserved.