Questions and Concerns for Patients’ Self-Inquiry Process

Because the nature of cancer and cancer care is complex and confusing, it can be daunting finding the key issues that will lead the patient back to health. In the ACR Institute’s coaching, we help the patient and or his-her care-taker to address four methodological aspects of the cancer self-inquiry process. First, the patient needs to know the precise diagnostic and the consequences of all credible options.

A. General Disease Inquiry Questions

1. What type and stage is the cancer? And are there other disease conditions ?

This is an important first question to ask one’s oncologist because his-her treatment plan will be based on the diagnosis. Most oncologists are fixated on the cancer and fail to identify other health conditions and mechanisms, in particular those that may be responsible for tumor growth. It’s important from the start to have a holistic approach to health.

2. What are all of the patient’s credible scientifically proven options, the consequences thereof

 In this inquiry,  the effects of not activating any treatment plan should also be addressed. With and without lifestyle change.

3. What are the first proposed steps  ?

Asking what the first steps are after the diagnosis will help to know is the treating physician and oncologist are competent. Patients often feel confused by the complexity of cancer care. Cancer care and treatment often require many different disciplines of medical care, and it can be all the more difficult to navigate that many integrative and conventional oncologists are not up to speed with the research.

4. What will the timeline of the proposed treatment plan look like?

Each cancer diagnosis is unique, and each patient is different, from when they need to start treatment to how soon they can get back to their normal life and what to expect along the way. The patient should always have an open critical mind and question the doctor’s protocol, in particular by asking him-her for evidence and following up with questions on why this piece of evidence is clinically superior to that piece of  evidence.

5. What is the goal of treatment? The proposed outcome ?

Too often, patients are led to  believe that the goal of treatment is to get rid of tumor (s). But this is not the major issue. Micrometastases complications are what most patients die from, then comes the issue of iatrogenic complications, clots and infections as well as a few other elements.

6. Who can be called upon to help answer questions?

Navigating one’s diagnosis, treatments, doctor visits can be daunting.  Bringing a trusted friend or family member to the doctor’s meeting can help to take some of the pressure off. This support person can also make sure your questions get answered.

B.  Life-saving & Lifespan Questions

1. If chemotherapy is the chosen treatment modality,  chemo-sensitivity testing to determine which drugs are most effective should be considered. Just like a good immunologist will perform a cutlure test to determine what antibiotic may work best, a good oncologist should use these DNA testing procedures.

2. If radiation and chemotherapy  are chosen, the oncologist should be asked how she-he will protect the patient’s body from side effects, in particular from cancer-causing free radicals and oxidative stress that come from these procedures ? Among other procedures, anti-oxidant, hyperthermia and some form of fasting have been shown to be protective, so the patient should ask his-her oncologist about these modalities.

To our knowledge, most conventional oncologists are ignorant of these protective modalities, if that is the case, this would be a reason to find another health-care professional. Or at least, to convince the oncologist to incorporte these protective therapies in his-her protocol. Likewise with surgery, there are holistic modalities to avoid the surgical spread of cancer cells  and to minimize immune depression.

3. What the oncologist’s plan is for addressing cancer stem cells.  Many oncologists have none, this would be a clear sign of incompetency because the key reason that explains cancer recurrence is based on the migration and metastasis formation of cancer stem cells, including after the five years cut-off date.

4. How the oncologist plans to support the immune system ? What she-he is planning with regard to the cancer’s underlying inflammatory processes ? Among other questions on mechanisms.

5. Then the patient or caretaker could test the oncologist to see if she-he is up to speed with regard to innovative cancer therapies and research, including, but not limited to products like magnesium, haelen, mistletoe, herbs, vitamin C IV therapy etc.

6.  For advanced cancer, the patient should ask about the oncologist’s plan for  pain medication, their side effects and alternatives. Weakening one’s immune system with certain pain meds should be seriously questioned in terms of benefits-risks, and all the more so that there are credible alternatives. Many advanced cancer patients die from the morphine drip.

7. How does the proposed treatment plan affect  cancer recurrence ? This is one of the key Achille’s heels of both conventional and integrative oncology. There are many metastasis drivers, cancer stem cells being only one of them.

8. How does the cancer treatment plan under consideration affect the patient’s lifespan ? This is a relevant question because most conventional anti-cancer treatments shorten lifespan. When conventional oncology measures relative lifespan benefits, it is in relation to conventional life expectancy with a given cancer and a given treatment plan. In this context, there can be some improvement, though usually in months. Holistic oncology is less interested in a few months or even years than in a few extra decades in terms of lifespan of the general population.

C. Six Guiding Questions to help get at the Scientific Truth

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal Of Medicine”. (source)

1. Source of the Claim or Story: There are many claims and healing “stories” in medicine. One should also critically examine the Source of the story or claim. Is it based on a valid scientific study from a reputable institution, or is it anecdotal information from a non-scientist? Is there any reason to think that the writer might be biased ? Cancer treatment plans should be objectively demonstrated in the peer-reviewed scientific literature to be more effective than a placebo and without serious side effects that will shorten one’s lifespan.

2. Strength of the evidence. Was it a small preliminary pilot study or a large double-blind, placebo-randomized controlled trial? Was the effect a large one? Was it a clinically meaningful effect? Does it only report a correlation, or is there evidence of causation? Do they report relative percentages or absolute numbers? (Check out Cochrane for evidence weighing). These are a few of other “tests” the ACR Institute uses to ascertain the scientific validity of a claim.

3.  Relevance (Salience): Is the study about similar patients or patients with another culture ? Medicine is as much a culture phenomenon as a scientific one. So it’s relevant to ask about culture. Secondarily, it’s relevant to ask questions about the gr0up that was studied. Often, cancer patients lifestyles differ and that difference may be decisive in terms of survival.  Was the  study a mice or test tubes one ? Did it come from human clinical trials and were these well designed and without flaws ? Etc.

4. Sides of the scale. Does the story provide a balanced view with input from experts not involved in the study? Are there legitimate disagreements?

5.  Rationality and Common sense: Does the story make sense and fit with other relevant information or does the story sound too good to be true ? Does it use “red flag” words like “miracle cure”, “the truth about this or that” and other suspicious marketing formulas ? If the story claims that breatharians can live without food or water,  a little digging will show that claim is exaggerated. Likewise with water being molecularly transformed and becoming healing just by thinking positive thoughts in the direction of the water. Research has  shown that Demoto claims on this topic has never been scientifically replicated in an independent lab. Yet millions of people feel the need to believe in his claim. That does not mean that postive thoughts are not good. On the contrary, they are strongly relevant for any treatment success. But buying structured water whose crystals have molecularly changed to become super healing appears to be based more on marketing hype than on scientific truth. I’m writing “appear” because scientific humility is also important. We should stay open and curious with regard to all claims. But basing one’s cancer treatment on a claim that has little or no evidence to back it up can be risky. And if one does that, the patient should closely monitor its results. (1)

6. Salesmanship (Marketing):  Is the purpose of the article to sell  something or to promote a particular treatment or brand? If so, the information may not be trustworthy.

D. How to dealt with Immunity to Change

In Immunity to Change, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey analysed a study that showed how difficult it is to get patients to be compliant to even a reasonable treatment plan. In this study, it was shown that if cardiologist doctors tell their seriously at-risk heart patients they will literally die if they do not make changes to their personal lives, in particular with change in diet, exercise, ceasing smoking,  only one in seven of these patients will be compliant and make the required lifestyle changes. Furthermore, around 6 percent of Americans consistently engage in the top five health behaviors.

In their writings, Kegan and Lahey distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges. A technical challenge has a straightforward solution based on new information and new skills, like switching on a light bulb to “cure” darkness. An adaptive challenge is one that needs a total mind-body-spirit engagement preceded by a clear understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the disease the patient wants to resolve. That’s why a medical doctor’s “instructions” on a technical issue carries with it little if any compliance. Many doctors take more time to find the right “liability-free” words to put in the medical record than actually helping the patient to find root causes, unblock energies and restore homeostasis. This is one reason why holistic coaching tends to me more effective with respect to compliance, the patient will also feel more accountable when the coach follows up on him-her.

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To benefit from a personal cutting-edge and holistic guidance (info & experience sharing), consider scheduling a consultation or coaching session

Consider enrolling in Pr. Joubert’s Cancer Research Methodology Workshop.

“In the quest to find the culprit (root causes), first weed out the impossible, and then, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, consider that to be the agent you are looking for”. Sherlock Holmes (from memory)

To learn how to dig deep in order to find strong scientific evidence, consider taking the ACR Institute’s course on cancer research methodology. Learning to ask the right questions is key. If the right issue and the precise concomitant questions are not addressed, the best “answers” will be irrelevant and misleading.

Pr. Joubert gives his students the tools they need to do what he does, dig deep to the facts behind the headlines and the health claims, evaluate the studies rigorously, and distinguish between the reality and the hype.  In the workshop’s case studies, we look at the headlines from major news sources and then dig deep to find the evidence that supports the study’s conclusion. Much of media, including medical media, distorts the truth. Bloggers have been instrumental in correcting media errors.  If a headline asks a question, the answer is usually no, etcetera.

Click here to examine this workshop (pending)

“Cancer Patients who live far from conventional cancer-care centers have at least a chance in surviving their cancers” Georges Mathé. A French renowned oncologist who invented the beginning of bone-marrow transplants for leukemia. By “living far”, Mathé meant “who avoids”.

References

(1). I knew a cancer patient whose partner persuaded her to try some fancy light and color therapy and felt so confident in it that they chose not to monitor the results, just because they saw some positive effects at the start. In less then couple months, the cancer had grown inside the patient’s chest in a massive way and the patient died.
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