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Dr. Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO is a cancer survivor and a sought-after luminary and a global healthcare authority in integrative cancer research. Dr. Nasha consults with physicians around the world bridging ancient therapies with advancements in modern medicine in the digital era. In September, Dr. Nasha will be a keynote speaker at the virtual Cancer Wellness Symposium

Recently, we connected with Dr. Nasha on limitations with traditional cancer treatments, the impact of integrative medicine and active patient participation has on cancer survivorship, and takeaways she hopes are available following our first annual Cancer Wellness Symposium.

Q: If a survivor is contemplating making lifestyle changes after cancer to improve their health but they aren’t sure where to start, what advice would you give them? 

This is precisely why I wrote The Metabolic Approach to Cancer with my co-author, Jess Higgins Kelley.  Though it is a guide for all phases of the cancer process, it is ideal for prevention.  Folks often say to me, “I was healthy until I received my cancer diagnosis.” 

What I want them to understand is that is impossible.  I want them to be able to dig deep and find their blind spots so they aren’t caught off guard again in the future.  I want them to explore their terrain, and the ten likely triggers for their condition, then address them head on.  We cannot heal from the soil in which we got sick, so doing everything you can to amend that soil is critical in order to avoid the statistic of being one of the 70% of patients, previously diagnosed and treated for cancer, to experience a recurrence.  Knowing your terrain is knowing yourself, and knowing yourself is a powerful tool in healing and prevention.

Q: What are you hoping attendees of all backgrounds can take away from the symposium? 

My intention for the attendees is for them to learn a more hopeful and unique perspective on what they can do before, during, and after a cancer diagnosis.  Realizing you are far more powerful than you are led to believe is an incredible opportunity to take matters into your own hands! It allows you to become an active participant in your healing process, empower and advocate for yourself and others, and explore and apply tools that would otherwise not be offered in standard of care. 

Q: Why does integrative medicine matter in cancer treatment or survivorship? 

As noted above, having a 70% chance of recurrence is abominable. Cancer itself is a collection of mishaps impacting mitochondrial function that leads to vulnerability in the expression of our DNA and RNA that can turn on an unwanted mechanism of untamed, out of control growth and loss of cellular communication.  We have a million opportunities every day, with each breath, thought, meal, movement (or lack thereof) to impact our mitochondrial health.  Unfortunately, cancer treatment itself causes further harm and destruction to the number and function of our mitochondria, setting us up for failure unless we take matters into our own hands.  This is not to say that cancer is or was “our fault”, however, it does elucidate that when you finally know what you didn’t know before, it IS up to you to do the work needed to change statistical outcomes.  Integrative medicine as a whole, and integrative oncology in particular, offer the evaluation, tools and guidance to implement a new way of being that is more resilient and resistant to a recurrence or progression of cancer.

Q: How do you feel about current cancer survivorship care? 

Honestly, as someone who consults on the behalf of patients struggling to recover from or even respond to their standard of care treatment and witnessing their fear that the cancer will return, I see the shortcomings of cancer survivorship care first hand.  A few follow up labs and scans are not enough. Too often the treatments themselves leave patients more vulnerable, with long term health consequences that impact their quality of life and prevent them from finding passion and purpose following such a harrowing journey.

Read comments on any one of the patient forums on social media and you will find folks often struggle more AFTER treatment than they did during.  Once someone “rings the bell” at the end of their chemotherapy or radiation, or their friends and family stop coming by with food and supportive offerings, or their weekly ritual of doctor appointments abruptly come to an end, this is often the most dangerous time when the patient is left without a compass, all alone, with no guidance.  

It is AFTER this phase that the real work begins, to uncover the why of their cancer process, address their current state of health following treatment, and to prevent future recurrence. To me, this is the most critical part of someone’s recovery and hope for long term optimal health and we need to be doing so much more.

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Join us September 22nd for the Virtual Cancer Wellness Symposium. The event is completely free to the general public. 3.5 CME/CEU credits are available as well for the early bird price of $50. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.