How to Pick the Right Path and Prevent Overwhelm when Healing from Cancer
By Alex Orton, N.D.
If you are familiar with the alternative or holistic cancer space–as a patient, a family/friend of a patient, or just out of personal interest–you may have noticed that it’s a complex minefield of information and therapies. One of my naturopathic professors once said, “Getting a group of naturopaths to agree on something is like trying to herd cats.” That’s even more true with holistic cancer treatment.
The juggernaut of the conventional medical system works like the military, with highly specific protocols and standard operating procedures that are expected to be followed to the letter. This system works very, very well when it comes to acute/emergency situations that threaten life. However, this system fails when it comes to chronic conditions that are environmental, behavioral, psychological, and spiritual, as is the case with cancer.
In the holistic world, there are many ways up the mountain of healing. Each person is a complex entity of converging variables working within a unique life situation. For someone to heal from a serious chronic problem that has taken years to develop, it takes nothing short of a complete life transformation to succeed. You can’t heal by living the same life that got you sick in the first place. What parts of your life need to change, and how to do it, is the art of holistic healing. The question is: what is the right path for you?
Common Responses to Overwhelm
When I meet with prospective patients with cancer who are considering alternative approaches, I see the same themes over and over again. Most people often know they do not want to do chemo, but they are overwhelmed by the potential alternative options available without a good sense of what is right for them personally.
This overwhelm will often lead to a few common responses:
1. Shutting down and not really choosing any path.
When you are afraid and confused with different opinions being thrown at you from all sides, it’s easy to go into shutdown mode. Afterall, every option has benefits and drawbacks and raises doubts. “Is the hormone blockade necessary and worth the side effects?” “Is this alternative therapy effective for my diagnosis and situation?” “Should I put in all of this effort if I am just going to die anyway?”
It’s no wonder that many people are paralyzed in the wake of these big decisions, which often feel like (and can be) life or death. These individuals tend to flounder and procrastinate in deciding until it’s too late, and then will be forced to react out of desperation instead of taking a proactive approach.
2. Doing a patchwork approach of many different therapies without a cohesive framework.
This is the most common outcome that I see in the wake of overwhelm. I call it the “throwing tomatoes at the wall and seeing what sticks” strategy. With all the alternative cancer treatment options available and without knowing what you personally need, you just dabble in all of it. You take every anti-cancer supplement known to mankind while doing IV vitamin C treatments, hyperbaric oxygen, laser, UVBI, and rectal ozone around the clock.
With this approach, there is an underlying feeling that what you are doing is not going to be enough or is not going to work, so you need to do more and keep searching constantly. And when your approach is disjointed, you won’t know what is working, how to track your progress, or how to maintain it long-term.
3. Following a cookie-cutter protocol that worked for someone else.
In the face of overwhelm, it’s also common to simply follow a pre-canned protocol that you found online. This is like following a recipe in a cookbook when you don’t know how to cook. Protocols can be good starting points, but they need to be individualized for you or your situation. Every person is different, with different physiological imbalances, different psychological challenges, and different life situations that require some customization. There are many protocols and therapies that have shown promise in treating cancer, but no protocol or therapy works for everyone. Without a deep understanding of your specific situation, arrived at by years of training and study, how do you know that any protocol that worked for someone else is going to work for you?
How to be Successful
After working with many people in their cancer healing journey, I recommend the following for anyone who is looking for a holistic approach to cancer:
1. Follow a holistic, time-tested framework that is individualized to your specific needs, imbalances, diagnosis, and lifestyle.
There are many cancer therapies out there, some of which are popular only because of current cultural trends and good marketing. Some therapies are mostly theoretical and have not been proven to be effective outside of a few anecdotes. For these reasons, I recommend choosing a path that is time-tested, with historical evidence and successful case studies to support it.
Just as important is to find a holistic framework that is individualized to you and your particular situation. People heal from cancer not with magic bullets but instead with a comprehensive program that truly addresses all parts of their life: environmental toxicity, nutritional deficiencies, daily lifestyle choices, and the mind/body connection. Cancer is a multifactorial problem that requires a multifactorial approach for successful treatment. Everything that you do within the right framework should be working together synergistically to address the problem at the root and reverse it.
2. Do your research, follow your intuition, and commit 100%.
The people who I have seen find success in healing from cancer are those who do the research and then follow their heart and go all-in with that choice. This applies to ANY choice, whether to follow your oncologist’s recommendations and do surgery followed by a full cycle of chemo and radiation, or whether to juice 5 pounds of carrots daily without fail. People who heal believe in what they are doing and stay consistent without needing to look for more.
The mind is a powerful tool. When you are fully committed to the path you have chosen, you will find the resiliency to keep going even through the hard times when you have doubts and physical challenges. It’s not about doing everything. In fact, doing too much can often overburden the detoxification pathways and devitalize the system. Instead, it’s about doing what is right for you consistently for a long enough time for your body to heal.
3. Work with a competent practitioner that you like and trust and let them guide you through the ups and downs of your program.
Many people try to put together a program on their own because they are afraid to commit to one path. Putting together a multivariable program for yourself is nearly impossible. If you want to be successful, I recommend that you work with a professional who can see your case objectively and have the clinical experience and discernment to figure out what is best for you. It’s not your job to know everything or be your own doctor.
Pick a practitioner who you trust enough to guide you. Find someone that you respect and with whom you communicate well. Holistic cancer programs can take months, if not years, to be successful, and during that time there are many ups and downs that are expected as part of the healing process. Having a guide who can be there by your side, on your side, for the long run can make all the difference in healing cancer.
Healing from cancer is possible, but sometimes that healing can feel out of reach when you are perusing the web and bombarded with different opinions and options. Hundreds of case studies have been published showing people with stage 4 metastatic cancer living far longer than their prognosis with holistic protocols. Remember that. You are not alone. Do your research, find people who can help you, follow your heart, and let God guide you to the approach that is right for you.
Dr. Alex Orton is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and was Valedictorian of his class at National University of Health Sciences. He is the Owner and Founder of Haven. He has training and certifications in The Gonzalez Protocol®, Classical Homeopathy, Somatic Experiencing, Yoga, Holistic Counseling, Constitutional Hydrotherapy and the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health. As a key member of our curriculum team, Dr. Orton describes the Making of The Gonzalez Protocol® 2021 Educational Seminar for doctors in this video.