A cancer diagnosis has a way of completely paralyzing us. Fear takes over and most of our decisions for our loved one or ourselves are led by fear.
I felt consumed with fear too. The first month was a blur after we found out our 3.5 year old daughter had cancer. I remember the poor statistics and sitting through the discussion of all the terrible possible acute and long term side effects from the chemotherapy.
I believed in my doctors and trusted their experience, but something inside me stirred when I was told Zuza could eat anything as long as we get calories in her. ANYTHING? I looked around and saw kids getting chemotherapy who were drinking soda and eating ice cream. It felt wrong.
I thought, how can this be right? I knew that the foundation of our health is nutrition. How can nutrition not matter when someone is trying to rid their body of cancer?
As a mom trying to help save my daughter’s life, I started on a mission to find the best tools to help Zuza’s immune system handle the cancer and to help her thrive as a cancer survivor.
Zuza’s option for nutrition while she still was able to eat from the hospital was processed hot dogs, chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. Once she became unable to tolerate food by mouth they wanted to give her pediasure through the NG tube. Pediasure’s first three ingredients were sugar, corn and soy. This was the first of many obstacles we encountered in the hospital. The nutritionist was annoyed with us because we used breast milk and our own super juice (organic vegetable juice we made) and it was more work for her to calculate the calories Zuza was getting. I quickly noticed the huge disconnect between western care of the cancer with chemotherapy and integrative care of the cancer patient with many tools. No one in the western world even mentioned mindfulness and its importance in the healing process.
I consumed integrative oncology books daily while we were inpatient. I sought out second opinions and consulted integrative providers across the world. When Zuza did not ever go to the ICU like they predicted “every child with this cancer ends up in the ICU” they did not ask me about all the other tools I was using. They just called her “weirdly resilient”. There was nothing weird about it. The Integrative Tools were working to help her immune system and they continue to work to keep her body thriving as a cancer survivor.
I learned that 90% of pediatric cancer patients have late effects. But I discovered that late effects can be reduced or completely avoided if there is a strategic plan. This must include nutrition and more. The fact is that during and after treatment, most individuals can’t absorb good nutrition. That’s why with cancer patients, one of my primary focuses is healing the gut so that they can absorb the good nutrients that I teach them to put into their body.
Every single cancer patient is different and deserves a caring and strategic plan for their healing journey. This is a healing journey we do together. I act as your health coach, educator and medical advisor.
I understand how overwhelming cancer can be because I have gone through the experience. I take a caring approach to develop programs that are doable for parents and kids, and support and boost your individual immune system at whatever stage of the journey you are on.
Based on my own family’s knowledge of the cancer care system and our experience, here is how I approach working with cancer patients and cancer survivors:
I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to care during cancer. As I learn about you through an extensive history, laboratory and nutritional analysis, I will develop an individualized program to support you during treatment. The program will focus on nutrition, complementary supplements to your treatment, detoxification and mindfulness.
A new journey starts when you are considered a cancer patient in remission. Now Is the time to focus on your biggest fears: relapse and late effects. Through extensive evaluation, laboratory, nutritional and functional testing, I develop an individualized program to help your immune system repair, and detox from the chemotherapy and radiation, to reduce your likelihood of developing of late effects.
Acute effects develop during cancer treatment such as vomiting or hair loss. Late effects develop months to years after the end of treatment, and may include fertility issues, neuropathy, heart and lung issues, osteoporosis and cognitive function decline. The good news is that late effects can often be healed over time. My program will help you reduce late effects and we will work on any current long term effects you have from treatment.
Direct Communication with Me, Your Provider
During this time, it is particularly important to have the ability to easily reach your health care provider. Our families have direct access to me via phone, text and email.
I believe the best way forward for patients touched by cancer is to build a tailored complementary integrative program to raise their personal odds of survival and to thrive after treatment.
TeleWellness Cancer Consultations
TeleWellness Consultations is a term for virtual office visits — video chats through your smartphone, tablet or computer. You can see and speak with me using real-time audio and video technology. Please note that when you consult with me, I do not replace your primary care provider; rather, I act as an expert educator, helping you understand the Integrative and Functional Medicine approach to cancer support. Consultations are available for both cancer patients/survivors and cancer caregivers.