Cancer has taken millions of lives and cost trillions of dollars to treat and prevent. Unfortunately, the cure for cancer is as far away now as it was decades ago. A new book, The Cancer Solution: Taking Charge of Your Life with Cancer, exposes why the cure for cancer is still elusive, and identifies where research for cancer should be heading.
Author Jack C. Westman, M.D., has been studying cancer care and prevention for many years. He served as a caretaker to his wife, who succumbed to breast cancer after a 34-year battle. Westman offers insight and inspiration on how to help someone who has been diagnosed with cancer navigate their way through the healthcare system.
Dr. Westman has helped people for six decades as a psychiatrist, professor, author and director of a nonprofit advocacy organization. He was also the keynote speaker at the World Conference on Cancer Therapy in Atlanta, GA this past Monday.
Uniquely positioned and qualified, Dr. Westman comes in as a 3rd party observer, examining all the research being done and exposing the gaps that have kept us from a cure.
I have the pleasure of promoting his work to the news media and want to share an insightful interview with Dr. Westman:
1. What events inspired you to write The Cancer Solution? The death of my beloved wife and the appearance of cancer in two close relatives inspired me to learn all that I could about current cancer research and treatment.
2. What type of support are you seeking for innovative cancer research? First of all, innovative cancer research must focus on the process of neoplasia that forms cancer cells. Public and professional advocacy of this concept is essential so that public and private funding of research is devoted to preventing and stopping neoplasia. The 13.7 million persons with cancer and their caregivers in the United States are in a unique position to carry out this kind of advocacy. Since one of three persons will die from cancer as it now stands, everyone should be advocates for change as well.
3. How does your book help cancer patients? This book gives the reader a broad overview of cancer research and treatment in simple terms with enough technical details so that patients can use it as a reference for their questions about specific aspects of cancer care. It is a handbook on cancer that describes both the big picture and the specifics about receiving cancer care and dealing with the issues involved in living with cancer. It also outlines nutritional and life style changes that can effectively complement conventional cancer treatment and prevent cancer. It creates awareness of the need for public pressure to improve cancer research and care
4. Will medical professionals and healthcare providers embrace your book? Perhaps not, if they do not read my book carefully. Because I have been able to devote two years to fulltime research on cancer research and treatment, few physicians possess the knowledge about cancer that I have gleaned from my extensive review of the literature. This means that other health care providers and researchers may find that my observations and conclusions do not conform to their ideas and practices. For this reason, my book only contains information based on scientific research or the policy positions of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and other organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences.
5. In your book, you document the evidence that there will be a major change in the way cancer is treated over the next decade. What exactly will change? The focus of cancer research and treatment will shift from searching for and destroying cancer cells to the factors in the immune system that permit the formation and growth of cancer cells. Immunotherapy and nutritional therapy will be available to reduce the need for, and even replace, radiation and chemotherapy. The outlook for cancer with shift from measuring months and years of survival to complete remissions.
6. How can diet and nutritional supplements play a key role in either cancer prevention or treatment? Many foods in the typical American diet contain cancer-producing toxins, just as does the smoke of cigarettes. Eliminating them from one’s diet can prevent cancer. Other nutrients, such as curcumin in curry, prevent the formation of cancer cells and even destroy them. They also can enhance the effectiveness and reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy.
7. As a psychiatrist, how do you believe one’s mindset can influence his or her state of health? Without question, receiving the diagnosis of cancer is stressful. The course of cancer treatment also is stressful. The hormonal effects of stress reduce the effectiveness of the body’s immune system and thereby interfere with the body’s defenses against cancer. Shifting from a sense of helplessness and dependency to one of taking charge of one’s life with cancer not only reduces stress, it also enhances the performance of the body’s immune system and can increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
8. As the president of Wisconsin Cares, Inc., a non-profit, how do you help families? The mission of Wisconsin Cares, Inc., is to promote the well-being of children and their families through developing public policies that strengthen families at the state and federal levels. For example, through the efforts of Wisconsin Cares, a Wisconsin State Department of Children and Families was established and Coordinated Services Teams for families involved in more than one system of care were made available throughout the state. One result of the latter was closing two state reformatories.
9. If someone is diagnosed with cancer, what are the six things they need to know or do right away?
1. Be sure that their advance directives for health care are up to date.
2. Ask their doctors for a detailed description of their cancer and its aggressiveness.
3. Obtain as detailed a prognosis as possible
4. Put together a notebook or digital folder for recording and keeping their health records.
5. Do as much research as they can on their particular form of cancer.
6. Obtain information about the possible benefits and disadvantages of recommended forms of treatment and do not be reluctant to seek a second opinion.
10. If you could whisper into the ears of oncologists and other doctors, what would you urge them to do when it comes to treating cancer patients? Be honest with your patients. They need to have the facts. They need to know the pros and cons of their treatment options.
11. You saw your wife lose her battle with cancer. What did that painful experience leave you with? A commitment to do anything I can to prevent others from going through her debilitating and dehumanizing experience.
12. As a psychiatrist – and not an oncologist – how are you in a position to advise on the treatment or prevention of cancer? First of all, I am a physician and able to learn about and understand medical matters. Secondly, my background makes me especially sensitive to the life experience of cancer patients. It also brings out the importance of talking with patients and learning from them. Thirdly, I am aware of the vital importance of helping patients overcome anxiety and fear and their destructive physical effects through mastery of their emotions and developing a sense of control in their lives.
13. Are you surprised, with all of the billions thrown at research and the millions of cancer victims studied by doctors, that we still haven’t cured cancer? No, not at all. The focus has been on killing cancer cells rather than on the process that forms them. There also is a vast cancer care system ranging from pharmaceutical companies to hospitals that depends upon the treatment of cancer. Oncology is the only specialty based on a specific disease. For these reasons, winning the war on cancer can be perceived as threating the existence of oncology and the cancer care system. My own view is that the cancer care system will always be needed, but that it will not need to be as large and costly as it is now.
14. Right now cancer is treated, typically, with radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. Why are you saying doctors should employ immunotherapies and nutritional therapies? Immunotherapy and nutritional therapies can enhance conventional cancer treatments now and with more research and clinical application possibly replace them in the future.
15. How do you counsel doctors who seek support for their efforts to help patients in a losing battle with cancer? Most importantly, most doctors went into medicine to help people get better. It is not easy for them to be treating patients whose chances of long-term survival are not good. If they learn more about alternative, complementary, and integrative cancer therapies, the outcomes of their clinical work will be more rewarding.
16. What can be done to bring down the expensive healthcare costs associated with cancer? Better coordination of existing treatments would help reduce health care costs. The American Society of Clinical Oncology has established guidelines for doing this. For example, applying treatments that cost $7,000 to $12,000 a month just to prolong a low quality of life for months is not in the interests of the patients nor of those who pay the costs. In the long range, more effective treatment will reduce costs as well.
17. What advice do you have for family members seeking to help and support a loved one with cancer? Along with your loved one, learn everything you can about the specific form of cancer involved. Most importantly, take care of yourself so that you can be a competent and effective caregiver.
18. There are many charlatans out their peddling phony cures and useless treatments. How can one spot them? Anyone who claims they have a cure for cancer and sells it, is suspect. Still there are many remedies that can be effective in cancer care. The answer is to do one’s own research and determine if there is clinical or research evidence that supports a claim that an unconventional treatment works.
19. Exactly what type of holistic response to cancer are you calling for? Most importantly, cancer should not be seen as a freestanding disease. It is the result of a breakdown in normal body functions. In this sense, it is a metabolic disorder. This means that cancer should be approached with all of the body systems in a particular human being in mind. The fact that it is life threatening especially highlights the need to consider how a patient is coping with cancer.
20. What are five obstacles to making progress on the war on cancer?
1. Viewing cancer as a disease in itself and simply killing cancer cells.
2. The lack of a financial incentive for the cancer care system to cure cancer.
3. The cancer research system is more oriented to the career advancement of researchers through publications than to achieving the goal of curing cancer.
4. The lack of federal and private funding for basic research on how cancer cells form and spread.
5. The lack of public pressure to change the present cancer care system.
21. If weight control, addiction, and other human behaviors can prevent or delay the onset of certain cancers, why are Americans literally killing themselves with poor daily habits? This reflects our society that is dehumanizing, materialistic, individualistic, erogenous, and fascinated by violence. There is little modeling of, or encouragement for, sensible living. Commercial interests are served by foods and life styles that are antithetical to healthy living. There also is a self-destructive streak in many people who consciously or unconsciously do not like themselves.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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