by Carlos M. Garcia, M.D.
We left off last month as patients are being led to believe that being referred to an oncologist, and or surgeon and or radiotherapist constitutes a “team”. However, before continuing I would like to bring to your cognizant awareness an obvious but overlooked point. Unlike cardiovascular disease and diabetes, whose pharmacological treatments have decreased intervention and thus revenue, medicine has found a way to keep the cancer goose well fed.
Medicine has formulated an almost endless supply of cancer patients. Next time you hear an advertisement about medications for irritable bowel, psoriasis or arthritic issues, especially those referred to as biologics, listen to the side effects, cancer in particular and then do your own research. Remember, the objective of the advertisement is to sell a product or service.
A few facts: The only one with skin in this situation is the patient, not the practitioner.
Success/failure: Your success depends on you: how you feel, what you eat, what you think, how you behave. In other words, medical success is not based on a grading curve. If a practitioner has a 100% success rate, it does not mean that you are guaranteed success. If you do not believe in what you are doing or looking on how to make it better or trying every treatment that you have read about, you stack the odds of success against your successful outcome.
Communication: The purpose of any consultation is for you to understand the problem and be presented with solution options in a way that you can understand. Each solution option has its upside and its downside. If you do not understand what the words mean, ask for an explanation. Ask for analogies. If you do not understand, you cannot help yourself! It is up to you with the assistance of the professional to decide which path you will chart. Additionally, nothing undermines success faster than doubting your treatment plan. If you don’t understand and unexpected detours to occur, you will doubt your treatment. If you don’t believe in what you are doing you diminish your chances at success.
I consulted a post Whipple procedure patient. He continued to lose weight in spite of eating 5,000 calories daily. When I asked if he met with a nutritionist prior to discharge he said no. When I asked what dietary guidance he was given by the surgeon, he was told to eat whatever he wanted. I asked if he spoke to the surgeon about his weight loss. He said he had, and that the surgeon stated he knows little about nutrition. He knows how to perform the procedure, while ignoring the aftermath it causes to the digestion. I recommended to the man that he add digestive enzymes either in capsules, papaya or pineapple. He began to gain weight. Then we focused on treating his cancer.
Ask about alternative treatments if you are interested in them. The usual answer is if they were any good we would be doing them… However, the reality is that insurance does not reimburse alternative treatment modalities and the majority of the practitioners are not experienced in using them. Most oncologists will prefer patients defer any alternative therapies. It is so ridiculous that one radiotherapist prohibited a patient from using aloe vera on her skin when she was doing radiation deep into her breast tissue. The result of such ignorance is that the woman’s skin became leather like. Those women that disregarded such advice had suppler skin.
Your participation: Nothing happens unless you participate. Participation is more than appearing and getting intravenous therapy or an operation. What you think, what you believe dramatically alters your success or failure.
The team: It is unreasonable for anyone to expect any practitioner to be omni-knowledgeable, however it is reasonable for them to present solutions, which may involve other practitioners. You have no idea how often I have spoken with patients who have undergone bowel surgery, i.e. Whipple procedure, bowel resection with ileostomy or esophageal radiation who are left to figure out what to eat after the procedure. Cancer cells have 20 times the sugar receptors versus a normal cell. Thus eating /drinking a fluid which is 40%+ sugar, I would think would not be the best choice. The issue is that rarely is the patient made aware of the permanent consequences of the decisions that they are pressured to make. If you lose weight, then you catabolize your body (Your body consumes your muscle and fat for the nutrients that are needed and not being provided by the diet.). When you do this, your body becomes more acidic.
Thus the team I am referring to and the services we provide at Utopia are designed to prepare the patient for the potential aftermath of choices before they are decided upon. For example, I have seen or spoken with untold patients, whose oncologist stood idly by as the patient losses much as 40% of the patient’s weight. Weight loss during chemotherapy treatment is all too common. Unfortunately, none of my patients have ever told me that they met with a nutritionist prior to undergoing the treatment. The few that have met with the nutritionist, after weight loss, have been told to consume products that are very high in sugar. Simple sugars feed cancer. If you don’t believe me, then ask why it is that the simple sugar glucose is a component in the PET scan used to identify the locations and activities of cancer cells.
Some will argue that pressure to decide is not imposed, but perceived by the patient. Practitioners, at least experienced ones, should have a reasonable idea of the aftermath outcomes, of the requests being made of patients and their families/caregivers. If the system is designed for healthcare, then a team of practitioners, from different disciplines, should discuss reasonable anticipated outcomes prior to procedures with the patient and associated family members or caregivers in order to reduce post procedure stress or chaos. The attitude of if I did not ask a question, then the practitioner does not volunteer information, is regrettably not rare.
According to Ryke Geerd Hamer, M.D., a patient has had cancer between 3 months to 3 years prior to discovery. Thus when a patient is told that breast surgery must be done or else death is eminent, in most cases, there is usually time to investigate and calmly decide treatment choices.
Full body PET scan before deciding on a course of treatment: Most women agree to a mastectomy or lumpectomy because they are led to believe that it can be curative. Investigating the extent of a patient’s compromise is essential in order to formulate a complete treatment approach before initiating surgical intervention. However, this rarely happens. The surgeon performs his duties and then discharges the patient. The oncologist is not in concert with a nutritionist to mitigate weight loss. The radiotherapist (radiation) rarely is in contact with the oncologist or surgeon. Physical therapy is rarely consulted and massage therapy for aches and pains is pooh-poohed for potentially spreading cancer cells, even when the patient has stage IV cancer (systemic cancer spread).
Oncology may be defined as the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. But where does cancer come from? Some say diet. If that were the case, then the highest incidence of cancer would be expected in third world countries with poor nutrition and even worse sanitation, but that is not true. Others blame stress. Stress maybe defined as an inability to cope or feeling of being overwhelmed. How does oncology address this issue? It doesn’t. In fact, it adds more stress to the patient’s life.
In its zeal to diagnose and treat cancer, oncology has forgotten to identify the root causes of why people get cancer. Perhaps this could be because there’s no reimbursement code for such request. What makes Utopia Cancer Center unique is that we do find the root cause of why people have cancer. At Utopia Cancer Center we understand that cancer is not the problem, it’s the symptom. If you do not understand why you have cancer, then I tell my patients that you will not understand when it recurs.
In short, and regrettably, it falls upon the patient and their caregivers to make sure that a complete program is discussed prior to starting a treatment regimen. Unfortunately, most patients and caregivers do not have enough medical experience to know what to ask, thus they rely on the practitioners who have failed to create a team to manage the patient. Diagnosis focused medicine appears to sacrifice the patient. It appears that the zeal to follow protocols, designed by who knows, which may or not apply to you, not your diagnosis, is the mainstay of medicine. The art of medicine is currently lost to most practitioners due to insurance reimbursement code driven pressures. This undermines patient- doctor relationships. This undermines patient success, and this is not healthcare, which should place the welfare of the patient before the treatment of the diagnosis. You are not your diagnosis no matter what the insurance carrier wants you to believe, regrettably, it appears many practitioners have forgotten.