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May is National Oncology Nursing Month, a time to acknowledge what is probably one of the most difficult jobs in traditional medicine. In conventional hospitals, oncology nurses work in high-stress environments with the sickest patients. More and more, however, dedicated professionals are continuing their education to become trained in a plethora of alternative modalities and as holistic nurses.
Could these forward-looking holistic nursing professionals be the ones who will bridge the gap between allopathic doctors and cancer patients who yearn for something more?
The Nursing Profession Has Always Been About Care
Since the beginning of the nursing profession in the United States, nurses have been about nurturing and caring for people. The term “nurse” comes from the descriptor “wet nurse.” This was in reference to those women who made themselves available to young ones whose mothers had died or to mothers who were too sick to nurse their babies.
As the profession expanded and became legitimized within the western medicine model, nurses served in the trenches. Nurses were present in ad-hoc hospitals during the Civil War and in make-shift wartime triage units throughout modern history.
It was also nurses who led the way in the introduction of energy healing into mainstream institutions. Healing Touch, a non-invasive treatment designed to restore and balance energy, was one of the first alternative healing modalities to be introduced into conventional medical facilities.
Specially-trained nurses at Scripps Medical Center in La Jolla, California, for example, began using Healing Touch in the early 1990s. It is still used there and elsewhere (including many VA hospitals) as an adjunct to surgery and other medical procedures to assist in pain reduction, relaxation, and physical healing. Other modalities such as Therapeutic Touch and Reiki soon followed. In 2006, it was estimated that there are over 80 colleges and universities across the world where alternative modalities such as Therapeutic Touch are taught.
Continuing Nursing Education is the Key to Mainstream Change
In no other way is the allopathic medical model more evidenced that in the “cut, burn, and poison” oncology departments in hospitals across the country. Will conventional medicine and its institutions ever be able to adopt a more comprehensive and holistic approach to treatment ? If there is hope for this happening, nurses will more than likely be the catalyst.
And according to many in the know, they already are. The Oncology Nurses Society (ONS) has stated that President Obama’s emphasis on “educational opportunities for higher education and graduate degrees” (from his January 2015 State of the Union address) puts oncology nurses “at the forefront.”
For a growing number of nurses, this forefront means responding to their patients’ call for more integrative medicine modalities as a replacement for, or as an adjunct to traditional chemo, radiation, and surgery.
It is estimated that close to one-third of all Americans use some form of alternative medicine. In every state, nurses are required to continue their professional education through the taking of Continuing Education Unit (CEU)-qualified classes. Many nurses respond to their patients’ growing interest in alternative medicine through accredited training in an ever-increasing array of non-traditional healing modalities. They then bring back to their patients in the form of real treatment and care.
Corrine Malanca is co-founder of United Patients Group, a leading cannabis information and education site based in San Francisco.
“Being squarely immersed in the alternative treatment world, one population we interact with regularly are cancer patients and their caregivers,” says Malanca. “We’re seeing a groundswell of interest from the nursing community to push beyond traditional modalities of care, and find them to be incredibly open-minded, curious, and willing to explore emerging treatment options.”
The interest in classes on medical cannabis and the endocannabinoid system has been so great that the group recently launched their own professional-level training program. Of particular interest to this group is the use of medical cannabis for the side effects associated with chemo, radiation, and surgery.
“As is the case with many types of integrative therapies, access to education in these areas can be scant,” Malanca continues. “It’s been inspiring to see how determined the nursing community is to access quality, science-based training in this emerging sector of healthcare.”
Interest in Holistic Nursing is Increasing Every Year
“When it came time for me to choose a specialty in nursing, I considered oncology,” says De’Ann Richter, RN, who was traditionally trained at Gordon University near Atlanta and worked for a while in trauma/surgery. At first, oncology nursing seemed to her like the “big leagues” since these nurses were caring for the sickest of patients.
“But when I did my rotation in Oncology, I left feeling depressed and useless,” Richter admits. “I felt like these patients were sick, not because of the cancer, but because of the treatment for their dis-ease…The nurses were, of course, caring for their patients and doing what they thought was best for them, but it felt like the most hopeless ward of the hospital and I was looking for something that felt more rewarding.”
She eventually went on to become a 7 Essentials Certified Coach,™ personally trained by me (Dr. V) , founder of Breast Cancer Conqueror.com.
“Cancer healing is about the whole person, not the cancer,” says Richter. “It is about equipping the body with the resources that it needs to fight and to heal. These patients (in the 7 Essentials Coaching Program™) are happy, full of hope, and for the most part, feel better and healthier than they ever have before during their healing journey. This is in stark contrast to patients who feel zapped of energy and health during aggressive, toxic traditional treatments.”
According to the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, holistic nursing is defined as “a nursing practice that has healing the whole person as its goal.” De’Ann is not alone in her desire to use her skill and talent as a nurse to inspire wellness, hope, and healing instead of desperation. Florence Nightingale was considered to be one of the first holistic nurses. The “field” of holistic nursing as a specialty has been around for over two decades. In the early years alone, there were close to four dozen scholarly reports published that addressed specific holistic nursing practices.
“In my experience, the nursing profession is the traditional field’s channel into alternative medicine,” says Richter. “Nurses are focused on a patient’s whole wellbeing, not necessarily just fixing the problem. Nurses practice alternative treatment every day in their interactions and caring for their patients.”
Nurses really do lead the way when it comes responding to patients’ growing desire for natural and healing modalities that work with the body, not against it. This is why I truly appreciate all those holistic nurses who are brave enough to think out of the box in the name of true patient care.
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May is National Oncology Nursing Month, a time to acknowledge what is probably one of the most difficult jobs in traditional medicine.
More and more dedicated nursing professionals are continuing their education to become trained in a plethora of alternative modalities and as holistic nurses. Will these forward-looking nurses be the ones to bridge the gap between allopathic doctors and cancer patients who yearn for something more?
It was nurses who led the way in the introduction of energy healing into mainstream institutions. Healing Touch, a non-invasive treatment designed to restore and balance energy, was one of the first alternative healing modalities to be introduced into conventional medical facilities.
It is estimated that close to one-third of all Americans use some form of alternative medicine. Many nurses are responding to their patients’ interest in alternative medicine through accredited training in an ever-increasing array of non-traditional healing modalities.
One area of growing interest is classes on medical cannabis for the side effects associated with chemo, radiation, and surgery.
The field of holistic nursing has been around for over two decades. According to the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, holistic nursing is defined as “a nursing practice that has healing the whole person as its goal.”
Ann Fonfa says
Two of Annie Appleseed Project’s volunteers will be staffing an exhibit table at the upcoming American Holistic Nurses Association in early June. We strongly support the idea of holistic nursing. A good friend, and speaker at several of our educational cancer conferences, Susan Luck, along with co-founder Barbara Dossey, started an Integrative Nurse Coaching program. http://www.inursecoach.com/
Amazed here in Europe (where I work as a doctor) there is not such thing as Appleseed would be welcome change here
Paula Youmell, RN, Wise Woman Nurse says
Truly, is there any other way. We need nurses, doctors, and all professionals in health care who understand and practice holistic / natural care in all areas of our disease care system. It is what healing is. It is what will transform our system into a true health care vs. disease care system.
Silvia Logan says
In my opinion, why don’t we get rid of conventional treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy and just use alternative therapies and holistic treatments. I have heard that terminal cancer patients do better with alternative therapies and holistic treatments than chemotherapy and radiation therapy. More people had died from those conventional treatments than just the disease itself.
Silvia…..your “getting rid” understand but as a doctor there has to be a sort of marriage between the two, like in marriage it is usual to hate one another but still to stay together. Understand it has killed more but if you look at cancer death rates say 20 years ago they were terrible, now so bad, but we are starting to have more and more so-called chronic ill patients that are never really cured and here I agreed holistic treatments do help
Silvia Logan says
Docstormy, I have heard that in recent years that the doctors are trying immunotherapy and viral therapy for stage 4 cancer patients in clinical trials. I have heard that they were far more effective in treating terminal cancer than chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These two mild therapies like immunotherapy and viral therapy just kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone. With those two mild therapies, one does not lose their hair, nor develop cold sores in their mouth, not feel numbness in the feet, nor feel nauseous, nor vomit. One 75 year old retirednurse who lives in the same place as me in Ottawa, Canada had stage 4 anal cancer which spread to both of her lungs did the viral therapy and she just felt mild flu symptom. However, I do not know how she is corresponding with this type of treatment. She did it last June. The doctors in Ottawa, Canada spent 15 years working on this particular type of treatment. Have you heard of immunotherapy and viral therapy? What do you think about those particular therapies?
Silvia…..yes years ago started my work with Helen Coley Nauts who was reopening her fathers work, the Coley Vaccines met her very many times and becasue of her I worked also with Ivan Bodgnov in Bulgaria…look on the net to find Helen. Some of the drugs by the two are hard to get. What seem more down to earth is the viral treatment which I am following what is being done in Lithuania….so I would go for it.
Silvia Logan says
Docstormy, I watched ‘The Truth About Cancer’ with Ty Bollinger and there was a young woman who had stage 4 melanoma. She lived somewhere in Europe and went to Lithuania and did viral therapy and now she is alive and very healthy and has no sign of cancer in her body. One woman only had two days to live and they sent her immediately to Lithuania and now she is cancer free and alive and kicking, because of the viral therapy. I was telling you that the doctor used viral therapy on a 75-year old retired nurse where I live in Ottawa, Canada at the Ottawa General and she did not feel very many side effects, except for minor flu symptoms which are far better than losing your hair, developing cold sores in the mouth, feeling numbness in the feet, nausea, and vomitting. Whether the viral therapy is working well on her stage 4 anal cancer is too soon to tell. I have not heard any recent updates about her since last July. So, I do not know how well she is corresponding to this type of treatment.
Silvia….to answer you probably know that the melanoma is notoriously known for its excellent reaction to immune-modulation and rectal cancer (adenocarcinoma) is much less in its reaction. Worked years with Prof Pantellini in Italy that treated by accident his frist patient that had a stomach adenocarcinoma and strange as it might seems he also had rectal cancer and died 30 years later. But feel our writing is gettting out of the scope of article above (nursing) and suggest you click on my picture which whould bring you to my wordpress page and there we can exchange ideas better
Raj johal says
Hi my dad got pancertic cancer stage 4 and now he can have any more chemo is there any thing we can give him please help
Nora Edwards says
Actually a number of nurses have been using holistic concepts for a number of years. It is just that a many of us have met strong resistance. That didn’t stop us completely, but it was a factor in younger nurses not getting any support for going that direction
linda Smith says
I was one of those allopathic trained ICU nurses who thought holistic nursing was airy-fairy stuff–until I became a board-certified holistic nurse myself in the early 90’s. It felt like I finally came home to real nursing. I then added certifications in Healing Touch and clinical aromatherapy. I now teach a holistic approach to clinical aromatherapy that is energy-based and not massage-based. In fact, I teach it all across the United States and Australia. It is the only program like this in the world. Keep up the great work of telling people the truth about cancer and other “life-threatening” illnesses that are a result of our choices in nutrition and lifestyle. Everything we do is about energy–either depleting or energizing. Holistic understanding of our body/mind/spirt can certainly heal a lot of ills.
Good to hear nurses are making the change to holistic medicine. Change takes time and new graduates in nursing will need to eventually learn there is much more to healing than what they were taught. The next problem is the average person. Most know nothing about alternative medicine and depend on their doctors to guide them, lets not forget cannabis was always legal until someone back in the 1920’s decided to take over the medical system and force drugs on everyone for profits. Free cancer clinics and doctors successfully treating people were forced out of business by the FDA and AMA. When people learn about the past they will more readily accept alternative methods that once worked and can again be the source of cures for many disorders.
Working in a cancer center is a challenge. Patients were always passing away. The staff would leave there in tears and depressed. The doctors often broke down in tears. They did their best but the system only gave them carcinogenic drugs, radiation and surgery to work with. When my father suffered from ling cancer eventually the drugs, not the cancer laid him to rest. Could have used a few holistic nurses back then.
Ann Bowyer says
I live in Australia, and have worked in many oncology wards of both public and private hospitals. I agree that the atmosphere is fatalistic and this disturbs me greatly. When I did my nursing training, the approach was far more holistic than it is today. We were encouraged to treat the patient as a whole person rather than focus on the presenting problem. I have believed for years that the holistic approach is by far the best nursing model.
Nursing training in Australia is now University-based, and centers around medication and diagnostic procedures rather than overall quality of patient care. In other words, it’s all head knowledge with little of what used to be basic nursing skills: compassionate care and communication. Now nurses are told not to waste time talking to patients – when that is what they usually need more than more pills!
And as for natural therapies: these are ridiculed within Australian hospitals. There was one excellent hospital in Melbourne that really impressed me. It successfully implemented a totally holistic approach. However the Government refused to fund it, and within a few years it was forced to close. I was absolutely appalled by this as I had been recommending this hospital highly for its quality of care. In addition, Australia’s Big Pharma scheme has been described as the worst in the world, and is consequently impeding patient access to new, innovative and specialized treatments – including, of course, more natural therapies.
Lee Taylor says
In Australia, in Victoria we have NIIM (National, InstItute of Integrative Medicine). I recently attended as a support for a dear friend who has many medical issues. After undergoing an extensive array of tests,(of the least invasive kind) and very long consults with 5 specialists, she has already experienced a reduction in her chronic pain, and not a pharmacutical drug in sight!!
I could not hold back the tears, as I watched the total relief and peace in her face, as she relaxed in the gentle arms of the osteopath, who has given her some gentle exercises,tools, and a thorough explanation of the process for her to do at home.
There are still 2 very long consults again, with the Integrative MD and Osteopath, after all test results are collated in a few weeks, and a holistic plan is formulated WITH my friend, to facillitate further healing. She had been told by standard MD’s that there was no hope for improvement, only continual decline.
Being from a nursing background myself, I was so impressed with what I found at NIIM, especially as I have watched all of the TTAC series, and found that many of those holistic treatment alternatives in the series, are offered here at NIIM.
Here is the link for you to explore: niim.com.au/
Belinda Spencer says
Anne Bowyer gosh that is really sad and very frustrating. It’s so hard to get the pulling power to make a change, I guess baby steps. I am about to undertake an oncology massage course in the hope I can educate clients about building up their immune system. I feel it is my contribution to help others and hopefully pass on the info about the Truth about Cancer.
Frank E. Burdett says
My Name is Frank e. Burdett. I was diagnose a stage IV of spreading melanoma cancer.
I cured myself o melanoma c ancer of both lungs and liver. and have been free of all cancers for over six years. Oncologists called me a miracle and yet were not interested in the alternative treatment. I wrote to over 30 Cancer societies of the world and never received one reply! What does that tell you!!! I live on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. A colleague of mine in USA had postrate cancer which turned into bone cancer… We both took the same treatment. We both have been free for over six years…
Frank E. Burdett
I am so happy for you. I refused all treatment for breast cancer over 2 years 6 months ago and I am still free of cancer. I follow the the alterative route.
Raj johal says
Which treatment or diet and medicine u had
I am a maternity nurse, not an oncology nurse, but I will tell you that the push is on to return to an holistic approach to care. We offer massage, aromatherapy (I use peppermint essential oil to treat nausea/vomiting and facilitate urination), and herbal teas. I also instruct my nursing students in these therapies. Now if they would only work on hospital food… Many patients wisely bring their own.
Belinda Spencer says
Kim, are there other essential oils you use as well? As I am into Aromatherapy massage, going onto oncology massage soon. I am going to definitely add frankinsence oil to the massages.
Ann Bowyer says
That’s interesting Kim. When I was working in Mid at a private hospital (in Melbourne, Australia), one of our patients insisted in having a room where she was able to cook her own food – which was vastly superior to the hospital variety! Being a private hospital, she was able to do that, and have her baby room in with her. But it was the only time I saw that in all my years of nursing! Congratulations on what you are doing.
Yes, Ann…what can we do about hospital food? I have conversations with the dietitians all the time, and they just don’t get it. I’m a vegan, and when I commented that their “solution” to that “dilemma” of mixed peppers in a super-sweet sauce on white rice was NOT the solution, they disagreed. I suggested adding chickpeas or beans, making the sauce savory instead of sweet, and putting it on brown rice or another whole grain. Hasn’t happened. When, in casual conversation with one of them, I mentioned that I couldn’t acquire a taste for green tea, so I hide it in my oatmeal, juices or smoothies, she said the merits of green tea were over-rated! The first solid food after a C-section is often a hamburger with french fries, The after-hours meal found in the fridge is turkey on white bread with mayo and an apple (which we KNOW is not organic). Even the salads, which look okay, are certainly not organic, and come with packets of salad dressing full of chemicals.
One great thing is that my hospital is designated UNICEF baby friendly. All moms room in with their babies, dads or grandma or sister or girlfriend stay with them, and breastfeeding is strongly encouraged and supported. At least the little ones get a good nutritional start!
My mother died of lung cancer, and my father-in-law had colon cancer. Both smoked and ate the standard American diet. Chemo definitely killed my father-in-law. My mother would beg me not to bring up my sons vegetarian, but of course I didn’t listen. The older and his wife are now vegan and buy or grow organic, and the younger remains a vegetarian, and all are in excellent health.
Sadly, everything today in medicine in about money. We consumers have to educate ourselves.
Ann Bowyer says
Ah yes Kim – how refreshing to ‘meet’ a kindred spirit! I remember hospital food as being thoroughly unhealthy, overcooked, lacking in roughage and complex carbs, and often over-salted! Completely lacking in imagination. I drink a lot of green tea, but don’t like it plain. Hence I buy Liptons green tea with mint. I don’t know what I’d do if it was discontinued!! Do they have that in America?
And as for hospital sandwiches!!! I was on night duty for nearly ten years, and the other staff used to eat junk food all night. Otherwise the choice in the hospital fridge was stale white bread sandwiches with horrible fillings or sickly sweet desserts. The other staff brought packets of potato crisps and lollies by the bucketful. As for me, I brought my own healthy food. The food in Mid was slightly better – I think the hospitals realized they were duty bound to ensure new mothers were nourished! And it seemed to me that the Hospital Dietitian’s answer to the bad hospital food was to cover everything with white sauce!! I have always thought it strange that places where healing is supposed to be provided are actually health hazards!
My mother died two days after my fourth birthday. There was an Inquest into her death, as she was diagnosed with eclampsia, but her obstetrician said “Let nature take its course” and refused to induce the baby. Consequently both she and the baby died. My father died of liver cancer. He was a heavy smoker, but I suspect it was the toxic sprays he used on the fruit trees on his orchard that actually killed him. He didn’t wear a mask when he was spraying. And my brother John was diagnosed with asbestosis around six years ago – thanks to Hardie’s Asbestos who employed him when he was on University holidays. Hardie’s knew that asbestos was a serious health hazard for many years before it was made public. John, like thousands of others, received a pay out, but money can’t compensate for life.
From the article : “Could these forward-looking holistic nursing professionals be the ones who will bridge the gap between allopathic doctors and cancer patients who yearn for something more?” The answer is “Not as long as they remain part of the current system.” Remember the famous Einstein quote, ” We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
I am certified as an Advanced Holistic Nurse and have been a consultant for 18 years. My opinion is that most institutions in our country are quite broken and driven mostly by profit (“health” care, agriculture, education, religion, business & industry, banking, military, etc. etc.) therefore must be transformed. We need a paradigm shift in each of these areas in order to really make progress.
Simply using holistic approaches to ameliorate the damage done by the cancer industry will not produce a healthy society. We must keep our eye on the ball and understand the mind of those whose motive is profit first and foremost. Once we begin to set different priorities, we will make different choices. Look at all the bricks and mortar going in to new cancer centers, new “health campuses” (love that phraseology – as if you learn something about being healthy by going to a hospital or medical clinic) that can only exist if more people need them. You don’t put that much money in a system you believe will promote genuine health making your facility obsolete before it’s paid for itself.
It is up to individuals to begin to understand the toxic nature of the world in which they live and begin to make choices accordingly. We must arm ourselves with good information and make choices from that vantage point. Only when we see the cancer industry needs us MUCH more than we need them will progress happen.
I had to step away from conventional nursing all those years ago in order to truly be a nurse. Had I stayed I believe my bank account would be full but my life energy would have been drained.
I never wanted anything to do with the cancer nurses, what advice can they give you? You must have the deadly treatment. No thank you.
I follow the alternative route thank God .
Can I ask what the treatment was.
Ann Bowyer says
That’s great Lee. NIIM sounds similar to the hospital I mentioned above that was forced to close. That was around 20 years ago now. They even implemented holistic care with surgical patients. I’m wondering whether NIIM may have started up after the closure of the Hospital – or whether the two were connected in some way. I found it appalling that they were refused any kind of funding because they were operating “outside the guidelines”! Whose guidelines, I wonder? It was located in Melbourne’s CBD, and I seem to remember the word ‘Integrative’ was part of the name of the facility. Because I worked for ten years as an agency nurse, I got to know virtually every hospital in Melbourne – the good, the bad and the ugly!! I will check out their link later today – right now I have to be out and about 🙂