Cancer. A topic that I have covered in many articles over the years and something very close to my heart as I, and many others, have been impacted personally. It is a word that most of us fear, mainly because there is a lack of understanding of the subject. The incidence of cancer is climbing in the human race, with an estimated 40% or more of us to be impacted personally within our lifetimes. When we fear something, we want to eliminate it, make it go away. Thus, as humans, we struggle and fight to find a cure that will end all of our fears and sweep this subject under the carpet. After the decades of research and billions of dollars raised, are we any closer to a cure? More importantly, will there ever be a cure to cancer?
I was directly impacted by cancer 12 years ago, and it was a wake-up call as a doctor and as a human being. I began to realize the error of my ways, not just as a doctor, but in my own life and choices. I have spoken with many people over the years who have been directly affected by cancer and most of those conversations are one of enlightenment, while others are more negative. The ultimate question that most have is whether there will ever be a cure for cancer? Surely, we, as mankind, will find a solution after all of the billions of dollars raised and spent, right?
If you are involved with medicine, whether it is human or veterinary, you encounter many patients impacted by cancer. There can be many patients affected by one form of cancer or another. If you dig deep enough, pay enough attention, you begin to realize that although they might all have the same type of cancer…not every patient is the same. A very lean woman with breast cancer may be in one room, while an obese woman with the same diagnosis is in another. One older gentleman with prostate cancer, while in another a mid-aged man with a late stage of the cancer. They may appear the same, but in reality, they are likely very different. We want to see similarities and connections, to arrive at a cure. There are similarities and root connections, but often we fail to truly see them and take from them true meaning.
There are patterns to certain diseases, there is no doubt, but in modern medicine we often try to define every disease through microscopic analysis. The patient doesn’t just have cancer, but now we have to put them under a microscope, define the cellular action, what genes are turned on, and which ones are turned off. Is this approach really getting us closer to a disease or are we actually further separating the person from the condition? Forgetting about the patient and truly looking at them.
What is Cancer to Me?
I’ve looked at this question pretty extensively since my diagnosis many years ago. As likely any cancer patient will tell you, once diagnosed, the subject is often very constant in your mind. Many look at it as a death sentence, once diagnosed, however, to me I saw it as a life awakening. I began to see things differently and took control of matters on my own level. As a doctor, I began to see my patients differently and approached their disease not based on the type of cancer, but on what I saw in that patient. What was going on with them? Why were they compromised? What did they need to recover and rebound? I asked the same questions to myself, regarding my own health.
To many, cancer is almost like an infectious disease, something they contracted. Maybe they used an unclean public restroom, maybe it was a food they ate, or maybe even someone they slept with over the years. The fact is that cancer is not an infectious disease, and you did not contract it. Now, one could contract HPV from another that may precipitate cancer, but HPV is not cancer and having it does not equate to cancer development.
Cancer involves changes in genetic function, mutations, which then impact normal cellular health and function. These mutations can be created as a result of numerous contributors which include diet, environment, stress, and many other factors. The mutations are a fact of life for all of us and they likely occur every day. The question is that given the level of occurrence in these mutations, why aren’t we all impacted by cancer? The answer to that question lies in the answer to the question regarding the common cold. Why aren’t we all affected every year?
In a nutshell, just like everything else in our lives, I believe cancer is a creation inside of ourselves by our own choice, whether it is on a conscious or unconscious level. We open the door for the development, thus it raises the question as to how to shut that door. Cancer is really an opportunistic type of disease, grabbing hold when the patient is most vulnerable.
Is a Cure for Cancer Around the Corner?
This is the million dollar question in everyone’s mind. Is there a cure? Will there ever be a cure? In my professional opinion, knowing what I know now, the answer is ‘NO’. I don’t ever see a single cure for cancer on the horizon in the near or distant future. But before everyone jumps all over me, let’s define what is implied as a ‘cure’.
For most, a cure would be a pharmaceutical medication or otherwise intervention which will eradicate cancer on a small or grand scale. Then, looking at the word ‘cure’, we have to define it. To me, a cure is complete recovery of the disease, and ideally one that leaves a patient in a healthier state than originally. So, taking this into consideration, again, in my opinion, there will not a be a single, pharmaceutical type of intervention that eradicates or cures cancer.
In the world of cancer therapy, the focus is often on clinical signs associated with the disease. The second area of extreme focus is on cellular pathways exhibited by that tumor. The third area is a shotgun approach, essentially using a combination of medications or technique to kill off the cancer cells. Sadly, these medications compromise the patient as well. None of the methodologies often result in a cure for the patient when used alone. Why?
The reasoning is simple in that they fail to take into consideration the patient and patterns that are present. A pharmaceutical can be developed for breast, colon, or prostate cancer and appear to provide benefits for 4 out of 10 people in research, which then most jump on that bandwagon. In reality, we need to ask why the other 6 failed to respond or worse, why those other 6 worsened or even died during therapy. Truthfully, this failure of the other 6 to respond is a signal that something is different about them, despite all having a similar form of cancer.
We don’t like this stuff in research or in medicine. Those people are the outliers, and are often ignored. If we looked closer, we might actually discover more about that one person that can then benefit the whole. What are the similarities, at a root, in each cancer patient?
Seeing the Trees but Missing the Forest
When it comes to cancer, we tend to just see the disease, but fail to see the bigger problem in that patient. If a person is diagnosed with colon or prostate cancer, our focus is often directly on what we can offer in pharmaceutical or surgical form, or radiation. Instantly, we are just focused on the disease, and are more focused on specific pathways in that cell group. We’ve gotten so deep that we have missed the patient and the obvious.
I was listening to a Chinese practitioner discuss health during an interview the other day, and he hit the nail on the head. His response was that from his perspective, we were using high powered medications to cure the patient, when we have failed to realize that the patient themselves has personal problems at home, is depressed, is not active in lifestyle, and eats horribly. There is no way for the body to heal until these factors are controlled and altered.
Truthfully, I believe that all forms of cancer are self-created by us, as humans, and that applies to our pets additionally. Yes, there may be a mutation there, a gene activation or suppression, but we likely had a hand in the game. We contribute to the problem, to the development of that situation through our lifestyle choices, which include diet, stress, exercise, and mental outlook. All of those can and do turn on or off genes. They also either support or impair our immune response. They also either provide for proper cellular function or impair it.
Essentially, those lifestyle factors either open or close the door to disease development.
Ironically, these factors are rarely addressed when it comes to cancer. In most cases, the patient is just a number, being poked, prodded and pushed down an assembly line with an IV pole in hand. The factors of mental health, diet, exercise and stress reduction are often never addressed. When they are addressed, they are seen more often as secondary problems rather than primary. Thus, there is not a lot of emphasis placed upon them.
When I look at true cancer recovery cases, the patients often took matters into their own hands. Most declined traditional pharmaceutical therapies. There are two general similarities between these patients. First, they all recognized stress as a huge player and eliminated it. That may mean a change in jobs, an end to a bad marriage, or moving to a new location. It may also mean taking up exercise, meditation, or other forms of spiritual enhancement. Second, all modified their diets. They gave up all processed foods and elected to eat clean at home, not on the run, preparing the meals from wholesome and clean food sources.
If you look at their regimens, these are the two broad based similarities. Often, many took up meditation or yoga, but not all. Others may have just quit their job and took up a hobby. Regarding diet, all ate clean, but some had rituals such as beet root juice, carrot juice or specific herbs. However, some just ate really clean food. What does this tell us, especially considering that many of these patients were fully recovered from their condition in a matter of months?
It tells us a few things. First, that the body has the full ability and intention to heal and recover if allowed. Second, it reveals to us the importance of stress and diet in the development of not just cancer, but likely many health conditions. Third, it tells us that there is no ‘one’ thing that will cure cancer. Many ‘natural’ possibilities, but no ‘one’ thing by itself is the key. Beets may demonstrate anti-cancer benefits, but not everyone that recovers eats them. Yoga may be beneficial, but not every survivor takes advantage of this modality. It is the sum of the parts, not the individual parts themselves. It is the concept of change, rather than what changes were precisely made.
These are the two bigger problems that are not addressed in the endless pursuit for a cure to cancer. They are also why likely, there will never be a single cure for cancer in a pharmaceutical form. Even if there was one, the results would again vary patient to patient due to the conditions presented above. The body can and will heal when allowed, but you need to provide for it.
If you are one that is waiting for that cure to come down the pipeline, it may be time to start looking within for the answers. That is often a very good place to start and I know you have the power within you to make change, overcome, and thrive…not just survive. The cure may just be inside of you, but through current lifestyle choices, you are holding that healing power back! The road to recovery may prove challenging, but the results will be worth it.
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Author: Tom Schell, D.V.M., CVCH, CHN