Mesothelioma is a serious and rare cancer that occurs in individuals that have either inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers. The fibers then travel through the body becoming lodged, resulting in cancer typically decades later. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the prognosis is grim with the average survival time varying from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis.
Often called “asbestos cancer,” mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to many current treatments. Patients often face surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, as well as being barraged with prescription medicines to relieve the symptoms of the disease and the side effects of the treatment.
More and more mesothelioma patients are looking for non-traditional ways to beat the cancer and to improve their quality of life. Doctors are becoming more supportive, and even encourage their patients to look for alternative treatments of holistic care and alternative therapies that focus on improving their emotional and physical well-being.
What Is Holistic Medicine?
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Holistic medicine is an alternative care approach that treats a patient as a “whole” person as opposed to simply treating the symptoms and illness. Holistic care looks at an individual’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being in an attempt to improve the health and prevent further illness. The concept follows Aristotle’s theory that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
Holistic practitioners believe that there is no limit to the range of diseases that can be treated, although alternative medicine does not specifically focus on a disease. For example, mesothelioma is not treated; rather the body and immune system are strengthened allowing the body’s defense mechanisms to heal the cancer. The approach works on balancing the body, mind, spirit, and emotions while improving the immune system as the entire being begins functioning smoothly. An illness, disease, or disorder is seen as an imbalance in the body’s systems.
Alternative medicine and holistic practice have been around for centuries, but only relatively recently has the modern medical field begun to accept it and begin to integrate it into the health care system and treatment for patients. Holistic therapies tend to emphasize proper nutrition, avoidance of chemical substances, use of homeopathic remedies, and meditation techniques. Holistic care techniques are non-invasive.
Some of the major holistic therapies include ayurveda, chiropractic, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, Unani, stress reduction, and reflexology.
Hypnosis for Pain Management
Trying to limit the amount of pills ingested into their system, some mesothelioma patients are turning to hypnosis as a way to manage their pain. Hypnosis is becoming more popular in clinical settings and is used to help people stop smoking, lose weight, and now, deal with pain.
Hypnotherapy, when performed by a trained specialist, has been proven to be a powerful and effective procedure for many people. The hypnotist slowly brings the patient to a state of high concentration allowing him to have a strict focus. The person then “projects” himself to, or envisions himself in, another place or state where he can block pain awareness or substitutes other sensations for the painful ones.
Hypnosis is considered an unconventional therapy and is often used with other holistic treatments including yoga and meditation. Hypnosis is not effective for everyone.
Supplements and Lifestyle Changes
Some mesothelioma patients decide not to embark on the path of standard treatment and opt instead for alternative treatments and lifestyle and dietary changes.
Through radical lifestyle changes and by altering their diet by adding a regimen of vitamins, herbs, amino acids and other immune boosting therapies and supplements, some find without the often debilitating side effects from chemotherapy they can continue to live their lives as they had before their diagnosis.
Focusing on the power of the mind-body connection choosing to be optimistic and positive is also beneficial. By reaffirming a focus in life and the reason living, taking on their emotional healing can bring physical healing.
By choosing to manage their shortened life outside a clinical setting, those that opt for holistic care feel empowered by their choices. Even though they know they will probably not be cured, they believe continuing to live their life as they choose is important for them and their families.