Over the past several years, I’ve watched as several friends have battled cancer. Fortunately, most of them have won the fight and are doing really well, but sadly, some of my dear friends did not make it. From talking with each of them and supporting them over the years, one thing that has struck me time and time again is the way cancer will affect your entire life even though the diagnosis is often limited to “just” one area of your body.
For example, ask any woman who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer if she feels like the cancer is just affecting one or both breasts, and my guess is she will probably tell you no. Cancer affects everything.
This is one reason why I think that offering choices whenever possible is so important to people who are fighting cancer. Hearing the diagnosis of “you have cancer” can make a person feel as if every ounce of control has just been taken away. So that’s why whenever possible, I feel that control should be given back to that patient.
Using breast cancer as an example, many patients undergo a combination of some type of surgery and then possibly radiation and/or chemotherapy and hormone therapy too. These conventional treatments have helped save the lives of millions of women over the years, and I’m grateful that they are around to help us.
At the same time, I don’t believe medicine, even the field of oncology, is a “one size fits all” type of field, so I always like hearing from patients how they were given some options and that their doctors worked closely with them to determine what plan of action would be best for them.
I also always love hearing about additional, more alternative treatments that patients use to help them heal. Things like naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, spiritual support, and other things of this nature have been shown time and time again to help many cancer patients get better. And in many cases, it seems like these types of breast cancer treatments are especially valuable in helping patients feel like they are getting back some type of control in their lives again.