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The Mesothelioma Center's August Support Group Session - Complementary & Alternative Medicine


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The Mesothelioma Center at offers a monthly online support group for those that have been affected by mesothelioma. In this session, licensed mental health counselor Dana Nolan will give a brief educational presentation on a mesothelioma-specific topic, then open up the discussion to patients.

In this month's session, writer Michelle Whitmer opened up the session with a presentation on Complementary and Alternative Medicine options for mesothelioma patients.

For more information about this online support group, please visit:

Published in: Health & Medicine
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The Mesothelioma Center's August Support Group Session - Complementary & Alternative Medicine

  1. 1. Michelle Whitmer Associate Editor
  2. 2. Welcome Hello and welcome! My name is Michelle Whitmer, and I’ve been a writer and editor at The Mesothelioma Center for more than five years. I’ve spent the past five and a half years solely researching and writing about mesothelioma and asbestos, so you can imagine that I’ve read a lot about natural therapies for mesothelioma.  In college I studied biology, environmental sciences and English, which prepared me for the world of medical research and writing I was about to enter. I’m a certified yoga instructor and a member of the American Holistic Medical Association, and I pursue ongoing education in natural medicine. (800) 615-2270
  3. 3. Welcome  I’m fascinated by technology and science just as often as I’m impressed by the power of natural healing, and I want mesothelioma patients to know it isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. Patients can take the best from both worlds!  I am not an expert in complementary and alternative medicine. I’m not able to answer specific questions about CAM, but I can point people in the right direction to find answers. And our Patient Advocates are available to answer many general medical questions about mesothelioma. Now that you know a little about me, I’ll sum up what I’m about to discuss, then give the short presentation. After that I’ll turn things back over to Dana. (800) 615-2270
  4. 4. What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)? The acronym CAM refers to complementary and alternative medicine.  Complementary medicine refers to therapies that are used in conjunction with standard treatment.  Alternative medicine refers to therapies that are used instead of standard treatment.  Another approach, known as Integrative Medicine, strives to integrate the best of complementary and conventional therapies using a multidisciplinary tactic to address the unique needs of each patient. (800) 615-2270
  5. 5. Examples of CAM Therapies Some examples of CAM therapies include:  Alternative Medical Systems o Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Naturopathy  Energy Therapies o Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, Qi Gong  Exercise Therapies o Yoga, Tai Chi (800) 615-2270
  6. 6. Examples of CAM Therapies  Manipulative and Body-based Methods o Chiropractic Care, Therapeutic Massage, Osteopathy, Reflexology  Mind-body Interventions o Meditation, Hypnosis, Art or Music Therapy, Biofeedback, Relaxation Therapy, Support Groups  Spiritual Therapies o Prayer, Spiritual Healing  Nutritional Therapeutics o Vegetarianism, Vitamins, Macrobiotic Diet, Gerson Therapy, Budwig Protocol (800) 615-2270
  7. 7. Why Do People with Cancer Choose CAM? People with cancer may use CAM to:  Help cope with the side effects of cancer treatments, such as nausea, pain, and fatigue;  Comfort themselves and ease the worries of cancer treatment and related stress;  Feel that they are doing something more to help with their own care;  Try to treat the cancer. (800) 615-2270
  8. 8.  Paul Kraus was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 1997 at the age of 52. He opted for an alternative approach and decided against conventional therapies. Paul switched to an organic vegetarian diet, juiced, took supplements, exercised, practiced mind-body therapies like meditation, and incorporated a spiritual perspective that helped to reduce stress. Paul also used Ukraine, which is a compound made in Austria that is half herb and half chemotherapy, for nearly 18 months. Paul is alive and well, living in Australia with his family. (800) 615-2270 CAM Therapies that Mesothelioma Survivors Have Used The following mesothelioma survivors used CAM therapies in their treatment plans.
  9. 9. CAM Therapies that Mesothelioma Survivors Have Used (800) 615-2270  Judy Glezinski was diagnosed in 1990 and underwent surgery and radiation for pleural mesothelioma. She lived with mesothelioma for 18 years and incorporated the following CAM therapies: prayer, aromatherapy, massage (including reflexology), and mangosteen juice (reported to shrink lung tumors in some people).  J.R. O’Connor was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2001 and didn’t qualify for surgery or radiation, and he refused the chemotherapy the doctors offered. He lived seven years after diagnosis by making changes to his diet (he ate organic, cut out most meat, ate more fresh produce, and eliminated sugar and processed foods), taking supplements, exercising, and practicing mind-body therapies such as hypnotherapy for stress reduction.  Bob Oberstar, 71, refused chemotherapy and radiation following his surgery for pleural mesothelioma. He wanted to avoid the side effects of those treatments and instead decided to boost his immunity and health with a new diet and exercise regimen. His diet focused on eating foods high in antioxidants to strengthen his immune system. Bob likes to remain active outdoors through fishing, hunting and gardening.
  10. 10. CAM Therapies that Mesothelioma Survivors Have Used (800) 615-2270  James Broomer, 74, didn’t see much success with chemotherapy for his pleural mesothelioma one year ago. After doctors told him to turn to hospice, his wife decided to try a special diet called the Budwig Protocol. Six months later, James had gained 20 pounds and was no longer in need of an oxygen tank or the pleural catheter that used to drain fluid that no longer collects in his lungs. In addition to a special flaxseed and cottage cheese recipe taken daily, the Budwig Protocol includes lots of fruits and vegetables, and omits animal fats, dairy, seafood, white bread and sugar, certain oils and trans-fats. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each of these survivors did something different that worked for them. It is important to note that all of these survivors worked with licensed medical professionals while undergoing CAM therapies. You too should work with a licensed professional, and our Patient Advocates can help you if you encounter difficulty locating one.
  11. 11. The Importance of Involving Your Oncologist  Your oncologist can explain why some alternative therapies might conflict with your traditional treatment.  They can also prevent you from being duped by questionable sources of alternative medicine. Be open and honest with your doctor.  If your doctor isn’t receptive to your interest in CAM therapies, consider finding an oncologist who will work with your interests. Integrative medicine programs staff oncologists who use both traditional and CAM therapies, and these programs are available at certain cancer centers throughout the U.S. (800) 615-2270
  12. 12. Trustworthy Resources of Information on CAMM The Mesothelioma Center is growing their online resources on CAM, so keep checking for new information. And though we are not experts on any form of treatment, you can feel free to contact one of our Patient Advocates if you have any questions. We’ll help you find the answers! Online Resources  The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine  Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer (non-profit)  National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (800) 615-2270
  13. 13. Trustworthy Resources of Information on CAM Cancer Centers offering integrative medicine programs in the U.S.  Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center  Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center  Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology  Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute  Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center If you have any questions for me, email me at or call (800) 615-2270. (800) 615-2270
  14. 14. Dana Nolan MS LMHC Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  15. 15. Why CAM?  Lack of faith in Western Medicine  Avoid side effects/long term effects of traditional treatment  Mind/body connection  Lack of control (800) 615-2270
  16. 16. Loved ones want to DO something  Offering to help investigate treatment options  Strong opinions  Love  Concern  Fear This can lead to mesothelioma patients feeling pressured by family/friends to pursue one type of treatment over the other. (800) 615-2270
  17. 17. How to help  Ask your loved one if they want your assistance in investigating treatment options/centers  Accept their treatment decision (800) 615-2270
  18. 18. When the patient feels overwhelmed  It is okay to set limits  Ask for their unconditional support  Understand that loved ones want to do something to help (800) 615-2270
  19. 19. Challenging decisions  Don’t underestimate the importance of supporting a cancer patients treatment decision Questions? (800) 615-2270
  20. 20. Contact Information 1-800-615-2270 (800) 615-2270