Comprehensive Cancer Care: Integrating Alternative, Complementary and Conventional Therapiesby James Gordon, Sharon Curtin
This book represents truly pioneering work. It brings much needed information about the best of new cancer treatments to those who need it most and it does so with compassion and an inspired bedside manner." -Dean Ornish, M.D. Drawing on the studies and critiques of many of the world's most gifted researchers and clinicians, this book scientifically explores the most promising complementary and alternative therapies-and sifts through the often frustrating and confusing barrage of information and misinformation about them-to provide readers with the direction and help they need to create an individualized cancer-care strategy. Comprehensive Cancer Care includes reports on the most accepted and researched complementary and alternative practices, empowering advice for patients with clear action steps for speaking to doctors, and critical discussion of cutting-edge interventions.
- Da Capo Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.09(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.90(d)
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: In the Beginning . . .SARAH FOUND A lump in her breast on May 1, 1995. As usual, she was doing several things at once: taking a shower, planning her day, and performing her regular monthly breast self-examination. Naked, slick with soap, she was thinking about how she could manage to shop for groceries, finish her project at work, and get the kids new sneakers all in that one day. Those few moments alone in the shower were the only time she had for herself; privacy and quiet were associated with the sound of running water, the smell of lavender soap, the smoothness of tile, and the pebbled glass door. When her fingers first found the lump, she hesitated, then probed the spot. She felt her body quiver, as if there had been an earthquake. She immediately thought, 1 don't have time for this.
That moment of discovery was a beginning-and an end. It was the end of her peaceful and lavender-scented sanctuary, the end of her unquestioning and thoughtless confidence in her body. Once she felt this new thing in her breast, the shower became a cold tiled place, where the play of morning light in the water cast a shadow across her skin. She saw her hand groping for a towel and turning off the water. Her hand, her arm, her body, her breast, were suddenly unfamiliar and strange. I'm not ready, she thought. 1 don't want to begin this, not now.
Then came the doctors, the diagnostic tests, the biopsies; the search for information, options, resources, trustworthy experts. Sarah sat silently as her body was scanned by mysterious machines and watched as computers talked and technicians said nothing. She stared at the ceiling, naked to the waist, as white-coated strangers felt her breast and discussed her case. She felt vulnerable, as if every time her breast was bared she was being attacked. She tried not to think, not to feel fear. Don't borrow trouble, she chanted silently. Wait until you know. She smiled, nodded, chatted politely. Inside, she felt herself disappearing, erased and abandoned.
Finally, Sarah sat in her doctor's tasteful office and watched her husband's face turn white with shock as the physician talked about her cancer. She supposed she should comfort her husband, listen carefully to the doctor, ask thoughtful, quiet questions. But all she could think of was how woefully alone and unprepared she was. Panic smothered her, and she sat numb and silent, compelled to hide fear and unable to raise a single issue. It was as if she were only a spectator, standing outside and alone.
Even as she waved away the tissues offered and took her husband's hand, her mind locked on that word. Cancer. He said it was cancer. The word set loose an echo in her head, a wave of sound crashing against her skull. She reminded herself that she was a competent, practical woman. 1 may want to run screaming from the room, and I may resent that I bave to tbink about otber people rigbt now, she thought, but I bave to deal witb tbis. Finally, the echo faded and she could hear the doctor's voice again.
The doctor, a surgical oncologist recommended by her family physician, spoke slowly, explaining the standard treatment for her stage of breast cancer. Surgery: a simple mastectomy, the removal of the breast and the lymph nodes in her axilla, or armpit, sparing much of the underlying muscle that is lost in a radical mastectomy. Radiation: local, precise radiation to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. Possibly chemotherapy, now or later, depending on what they found during surgery and on how she responded to radiation. Side effects? Minimal and tolerable. They, the cancer experts, would take care of this for her. This is what they knew, this is what must be done. Wbat can 1 do? Sarah asked.
Notbing. Just do what we tell you. Our experience shows really good results, and your particular diagnosis suggests a high likelihood o f successful treatment.
Nothing? Sarah felt a gap opening between her and her caregivers. There was their reality-a breast, a lump, a biopsy, the careful scientific studies, the surgeon's experience-and then there was Sarah. The disconnection widened and darkened as the oncologist labored to reassure his patient. He was highly skilled, a recognized expert in breast cancer. Everyone said so. She chose him, believed him to be the best available surgical oncologist. It was tempting, maybe even easier, to adopt the doctor's viewpoint. He would actively perform and coordinate the best interventions medical science could offer. She just had to cooperate, show up, follow the plan, be a good patient. The oncologist spoke in a flat, cheerful voice that reminded her of high school health classes. He sounded censored, as if confined to some sanitized script. The bad news had the ring of truth, but the reassurances fell flat and false.
Sarah didn't speak of her uneasiness with the proposed treatment or with the way her doctor was talking to her. She wondered if her need for more help and information was something peculiar to her alone. The medical care she would receive would be the best, and she suspected that it was her own weakness that now demanded more.
Until now, Sarah had followed all the guidelines: regular physical examinations, mammograms, self-examination of her breasts each month. She knew early detection and treatment were important factors in successful cancer care, and indeed it seemed that she had found her tumor in a timely manner. Sarah tried to focus on the facts, the numbers, the survival rates, the chances of recurrence, the plans for long-term follow-up care. She noticed her husband's color returning and he began to nod sagely, asking a few questions. Everyone but the patient felt confident, she thought. Sarah was appalled to hear her own voice echo that of her husband's, the quiet and polite response of agreement. They can always count on that, she thought...
Meet the Author
James S. Gordon, M.D., author of Manifesto for a New Medicine, is the Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. A clinical professor of medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, he is also director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., and creator of the Comprehensive Cancer Care Conference.
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