integrative medicine

Caring for the whole patient through integrative medicine

“You have cancer,” could be one of the most difficult phrases to hear. Those powerful words can leave anyone devastated. But if you or a loved one hears those words articulated by a doctor, know there is hope.

After a cancer diagnosis, your mind may immediately turn to how you are going to beat the disease through treatment — and rightly so. But did you know there are ways to enhance your cancer care beyond traditional medicine?

While traditional cancer treatments are focused on helping your body to fight cancer, integrative medicine programs can supplement your treatment plan, bringing a new dimension to medical care.

While traditional cancer treatments are focused on helping your body to fight cancer, integrative medicine programs can supplement your treatment plan, bringing a new dimension to medical care. When you’re facing chronic illness, these programs integrate holistic care to address nutritional, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your life.

According to a recent study, weight gain can have a negative impact on recurrence rates and survival for patients battling early-stage cancer. Studies also indicate that understanding the importance of a healthy diet and exercise regime before treatment can help patients recover faster, decrease their body mass index and improve recurrence rates.

Triple-negative breast cancer survivor Karen Rosenkrans knows firsthand the importance of applying integrative treatment methods to address mind, body and spirit.

Finding strength by building healthy habits

Karen was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in 2006.

Two years after beginning treatment at a different hospital, Karen transferred to Baylor University Medical Center — a decision that made all the difference in her cancer journey. She was able to participate in a triple-negative clinical trial. It has taken her eight years for her body to repair the damage from the chemotherapy.

“Explore."

“During that time I learned so many new recipes and incorporated healthy eating habits into my daily life,” she said. “I’m now 70 years old and I am stronger now than I was before going through cancer treatment, thanks to the team at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center.”

Now cancer-free, the healthy habits Karen’s built continue to propel her healthy, active lifestyle.

“When I transferred to Baylor Scott & White, it felt like family, which is why I still go there weekly for yoga classes,” she said. “Sometimes I go there just to read or go in the chapel to think about why I am here, and reflect on how grateful I am to be alive.”

Cancer impacts your whole person — emotionally, socially, spiritually and in your family life — and it’s important to care for all aspects.

At Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, you can find support groups, exercise and meditation classes, music and art therapy, cooking classes and more. These programs are designed to care for patients beyond their clinical needs. Cancer impacts your whole person — emotionally, socially, spiritually and in your family life — and it’s important to care for all aspects.

These integrative medicine programs help patients and survivors not only cope with the physical and emotional impact of cancer treatment, but also in the recovery and healing process that comes later.

Tune in to cooking classes, which are live streamed in the Onward: The Survivorship Journey Facebook group.

The health benefits of integrative medicine

“Whenever I consult with breast cancer patients, I always educate them about the importance of healthy self-care and proper nutrition in bolstering their overall health and well-being during cancer treatments,” said Dr. Shannon Poppito, clinical psychologist on the medical staff at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas.

Specializing in psycho-oncology, she provides integrated behavioral health oncology consultation services to cancer patients.

“When it comes to breast cancer, it’s key to maintain a healthy diet and exercise,” Dr. Poppito said. “It’s especially important for estrogen-positive breast cancer patients to keep their weight within healthy limits, cut down on white processed refined sugars and flours, and initiate a regular exercise plan.”

Related: Exercise as a prescription for breast cancer survivors

If you’re battling cancer, talk to your doctor about the possibility of incorporating integrative medicine.

Learn more about integrative medicine, or find cancer support near you.

About the author

Matthew Olivolo
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Matthew Olivolo is a senior marketing and public relations consultant for Baylor Scott & White Health. He is a former U.S. Marine journalist and communications professional. When he isn’t writing, he competes in Ironman triathlon races across the country.

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Caring for the whole patient through integrative medicine