The Need for Integrative Therapy in Cancer
Western medicine or allopathic medicine as it is popularly known largely focuses on treating the disease. For diseases such as cancer, western medicine has been the mainstay for curing the disease. However, while some people are keen on following alternative systems of medicine including Ayurveda and Unani, largely we have not looked at cancer care in a holistic perspective.
It has always been approached from the service provider’s perspective instead of focusing on the patient. While 20% of treatment for cancer happens in the hospital, the other 80% happens at home. So, it is highly important to shift the focus from the disease to the patient.
Integrative medicine is a holistic movement that attempts to do exactly that. Integrative medicine pays attention to the mind, body & spirit of the patient who is undergoing treatment. It is the support layer that aids in improving the success rate of the treatment while keeping in mind the emotional health of the patient & family/friends.
With integrative medicine, the treatment outcome improves, the overall prognosis is better & the individual comes out healthier after treatment.
There are several elements, which constitute integrative medicine:
- Nutrition: Often, nutrition in India tends to be influenced by upbringing, family or in a few cases by conscious lifestyle changes. Good nutrition helps in disease prevention and aids better outcome during treatment & rehabilitation. The kind of nutrition differs according to the treatment stages. So, as part of treatment, there is a need for awareness & support to identify the right dietary needs of the patient.
- Exercise: There is sufficient statistical evidence to show that exercise can reduce one’s risk of contracting disease. Nutrition & diet often go hand in hand to keep an individual healthy during treatment period. Based on the kind of treatment & the physical capacity of the patient during treatment, exercise could vary. However, studies have shown that the faster one gets back to normal routine, the stronger one becomes during & after treatment.
- Counselling: In India, family is usually a big support system during treatment. When in crisis, family comes to support. Despite the support, sometimes patients & family members need professional help to make sense of what is going on. A psychotherapist helps support the patient & caregiver to maintain good mental health through the treatment period.
- Spirituality: Spirituality is an important aspect of mental health for several people. While this is not measurable, healing the mind is an imperative part of integrative medicine. Spirituality helps maintain a positive outlook during the treatment period. It helps for patients & caregivers to be in touch with their mind and focus on maintaining good mental health.
In a nutshell, traditional treatment + complementary therapy is integrative therapy.