At the end of a recent presentation a man approached me with this question. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and she wanted to know what else, beside conventional medical treatment she can possibly do.
He was eager to learn about complementary or non-medical approaches to healing cancer but he was church going person and was concerned about the use of hypnosis. Like many, him and his wife held all sorts of misconceptions about hypnosis. In fact, if it weren’t for their doctor mentioning my name they would never think to attend my lecture.
The short answer to his question about the merit of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) for cancer is a resounding YES. Having said that not all CAM for cancer are alike. There are as many methods out there as they are practitioners, but if you are looking for a form of treatment that is considered evidence-based you will find a short list.
This is not to say that research equal effectiveness, far from it. If we keep in mind that what we call evidence-based today was at one point the subject of mockery we must consider there are methods of healing we did not yet discover or researched. Evidence-based simply means there was sufficient interest in one method to the point that funds could be raised to explore it through the tools of science.
Though the medical field has long recognized the benefits of Hypnotherapy, the topic is still poorly understood and certainly under utilized. The British approved the use of hypnosis back in 1955, even the Pope and Roam Catholic Church approved its use in 1956 and last but not least it was approved in the US in 1958. Still we find its use limited in medical facilities.
In my little corner of the universe this is about to change. From May 2013 patients of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute who visit the Zakim Center for Integrative Care will be able to benefit from hypnosis for cancer. The Zakim Center already offers its patients a wide spectrum of evidence-based practices. Practices such as Acupuncture, Chi Kong and oncology massage have long been researched and the data is promising. Listening to patients testimonials, I for one am very grateful that we live in a day and age where patients can benefit from this union of medical and non-medical methods.
To find the right CAM practice for you, first define the end result you are looking for. This end result can be pain relief or lessening side effects, immune enhancement etc. Done right, this will allow you to narrow your search. And yes, talk to your medical team about your wish to integrate non-medical methods into your cancer care, their answer might pleasantly surprise you.