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Many years ago, a stage IV prostate cancer patient, who I will call Stan, came to me for complementary care. I have been fortunate to work in cancer centers that are progressive and honor the importance of safe alternative therapies in conjunction with conventional medicine. Stan was receiving the best treatment from the best oncology team and even went out of state to another prestigious cancer treatment center to get another opinion. The first and second opinions matched. Both center's oncologists noted that data for his diagnosis wasn't favorable for long term survival; thus, it was highly unlikely his cancer would ever reach the much desired'NED' status (No Evidence of Disease). Stan and his wife were not deterred.
They persisted, after the prescribed conventional treatment plan, as well as complying with the complementary strategy I supplied. My plan included safe supplementation, dietary support, behavioral alterations, mind-body treatments, and exercise. Stan, I must mention, is also deeply religious and insatiably curious, as is his wife.
As the weeks and months progressed, Stan maintained the treatment protocols and made it through therapy with very few side effects. In and of itself, having only a small amount of side effects during treatment was an enormous accomplishment.
The time for him to be scanned came, and the results revealed NED. He was elated, and his oncology team was baffled. Statistically, this wasn't supposed to happen. Because this was not normal', his case was sent to many tumor boards to ascertain what to do next. Because of this, Stan was assessed frequently in the initial months and proceeding months after another scan, and he retained his NED status.
Knowing that my patients are my best teachers, I asked Stan what he believed made the difference. His reply: "I do not believe it was just 1 thing or one mode of treatment. I think it was a million points of light that coalesced to create healing."
His words had a profound and instrumental impact on me. They concisely articulated my observations in hundreds of patients since practicing for more than a decade in traditional settings: all these therapies matter to the health, well being and outcomes of our patients.
Like Stan, there are lots of patients who get unlikely No Evidence of Disease (NED) diagnosis, as well as patients living long term with cancer. In fact, in the past several years the rate of remission and stabilization has increased so significantly that a newly recognized phase of treatment has been added called survivorship. I can not stress enough how important an integrative approach to treatment matters.