A recent family trip to the Midwest had me reconnecting with colleagues in Chicagoland, and, serendipitously, I found myself having dinner with an old friend, who later invited me to visit her office at the midwest outpost of The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). Yes, please!
Truth be told, I had visited CTCA Midwest in my last year of naturopathic school, wide-eyed and impressionable, and felt incredibly intimidated by the prospect of specializing in naturopathic oncology at the time. Even now, as a physician in practice for seven years, I felt a bit out of my league meeting with the Director of Oncology Patient Services, fearing she would be disappointed in my lack of experience in naturopathic oncology. I needn’t have worried though, because what I found instead was an incredibly affirming naturopathic team with bright smiles and collaborative attitudes, who genuinely cared about their patients. Set against the tranquil backdrop of one of the newly constructed wings, the naturopathic oncology department is truly a place for healing, as they work in tandem with medical oncology, nutrition, and mind-body medicine to provide supportive services from all angles.
One particularly interesting conversation I had with the team included naturopathic interventions for pain management and wound healing. Botanical medicine, supplementation, and in some cases, homeopathy are all being utilized to address pain with various etiologies and promote speedy wound healing--even the radiologists recommend calendula cream!
In short, it was a truly impressive afternoon to see firsthand how an integrative hospital can not only run effectively, but tremendously successfully. Inspired to dip your toes into naturopathic oncology yourself, but unable to visit CTCA? I’d personally recommend enhancing your continuing education by having a listen to Dr. Jillian Stansbury’s course, “Pain Management in Cancer Care.” Not only does she do an awesome job of presenting evidence-based options, she also explores the folkloric and eclectic uses of some incredibly helpful vulnerary and alterative herbs, which address the sequelae of cancer and its treatment in a completely different way. (Get ready for your mind to be blown by berberine, y’all. I’m serious.) I promise, it’s two and a half hours well spent!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Ouano is a naturopathic doctor and writer. A fierce advocate for health equity and rights of the marginalized, she frequently writes about the intersection of naturopathic medicine and public health, throwing in personal anecdotes and tasty (and practical) recipes along the way.