Because my desire was to get to the root cause of my cancer, I decided to see Dr. Block, a world renowned integrative medicine specialist, who has The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and Optimal Health, in Evanston, IL.
To clarify this need in the light of what I have recently revealed about feeling as if God has healed me, this is my explanation. I do believe God has or is in the process of healing me. However, there was a malfunction in my system which allowed me to get cancer. Unless I fix this environment in me which allowed cancer growth, there is no reason for it not to occur again. In Dr. Block’s terms, the terrain of my body must become amenable for health.
This is a unique medical facility which does some cutting edge things related to traditional cancer treatment like giving chemo which is based on the timing of the individual’s circadian rhythms. Another example of their approach is having the patients exercise as they get chemo to mitigate the negative effects. The Block Center uses the weapons of traditional medicine but adds in the teachings from additional sources.
The overall program involves several components. It seems to me that the main component is nutrition. The initial visit required a full day of seeing various people whom I will describe along with their functions.
A clinical psychologist started off the team effort with teaching on mind body care. She emphasized the importance of having a strong support group, stress care strategies and relaxation techniques. The idea of putting your plan on a calendar from the shopping to the food preparation was a major point– she pointed out that otherwise the info gained would be just more knowledge without lifestyle change. She also brought up how crucial it is to have a spiritual base. She did not delve deeply into this except to say that prayer has been shown to affect recovery rate positively in a double blind study.
Part of the program was to be a physical therapist, but I skipped this in able to be able to fit it all into one day, with the understanding that as a PT, I know the importance of exercise. She was to go over the components of fitness, which are strength, balance and coordination, and aerobic capacity. This all ties in very strongly to recovery and prevention of recurrence. Studies show that exercise is one of the most important parts of prevention of recurrence. And it lessens the negative effects of much of the conventional treatment of cancer (chemo and radiation).
Next, a physician’s assistant does a physical and passes on that info to the next person on the team, an internal medicine doctor. He is really the quarterback of the team. He analyzes the history, asks questions and makes a care plan. This involves recommending what supplements would be best for you based on the info he has gleaned. The total cost of the recommended nutrients if bought from the Block Center was approximately $155 per month (no insurance coverage for this). But, you can search out these supplements on your own if you so choose. I started with a few of the recommendations to make sure I could tolerate them.
The oncologist feeds into this care plan also and if you are currently undergoing or planning chemo or radiation, she is probably a big part of your treatment planning. At the stage that I am now, she was more of a second opinion on my present oncologist’s “wait and watch” plan. She confirmed that medicine currently has no cure for follicular lymphoma and she recommended the BRCA1 genetic test based on my family history (which I complied with at this visit).
Next was the blood draw by a nurse– fifteen tubes of blood for the different tests to be run. (Please God, let our insurance truly cover all of these costs.)
And now to the heart of the matter– the nutritional counseling. This is not covered by insurance. The fee is between $170 and $200. A written plan is given and a short period is given for you to review this. After that, you have a chance to ask questions. She recommends a calorie amount per day and gives you suggested servings per day to make that balanced and nutritional. The diet is modeled after the exchange diet with measured sizes. Basically you can have tons of veggies and small amounts of the other things mentioned.
Here is the plan in a nutshell. Eat 4 to 6 small meals incorporating variety and using organics whenever possible. Use whole grains, not refined. Eat many brightly colored veggies every day including a cruciferous vegetable at least once a day(cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and/or cabbage). Include garlic and onions. Eliminate meat and only eat fish every other day in 3 to 4 oz. servings( the size of a deck of cards). Limit your fat intake and make the fats high in omega 3 oils (like flaxseed, fish or walnuts). Use monosaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Eat moderate amounts of food in brightly colored varieties. Limit fruit when there are high blood sugar issues and limit fruit juice. Replace diary products with soy, rice, almond or oat substitutes. Don’t eat more than 2 whole eggs per week, although you are not limited in eating egg whites. Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea along with enough water to total 8 to 10 cups a day. Use stevia, agave, rice or barley malt sweetener in place of sugar and use these very sparingly.
For me, she recommended a specific brand of cereal (Uncle Sam’s Laxative Cereal)as well as freshly ground flax seed to help me be more regular. Also recommended was lightly steaming my veggies to make them more digestible. She mentioned ewg.org as a source of info on mercury contamination and the best fish to eat.
Last, but not least, was Dr. Block. He spoke about his book, “Life Over Cancer” and the importance of reading it as well as another book, “Born to Run”. He spoke some cheerleading type comments and stories designed to motivate in exercising and eating well. Furthermore, the ideas of attitude and expectations are paramount with him. He spoke of instances where people were told they had a certain amount of time to live and how they followed that like a dictum. He said that 3 things; biography, biology, and pathology, can be influenced to make the terrain of your body amenable to health and not cancer. Baby steps to accomplish this process as well as long term sticking with it will bring this new terrain for good health into your life.
The evaluative process is not finished yet. In 3 to 4 weeks, I will get the results of the blood tests. Then a telephone consultation with the nutritionist will be scheduled. The vitamin levels, inflammatory markers, and hormone levels will be tested along with some other things I did not catch. I will update in this blog when this process is done.
My critique thus far is that this holistic cancer clinic is pretty good. If there is a weak point, it is on analyzing why the vitamin levels are not where they should be. To me the root problem is still a level deeper. They address the body’s insuffiency in part with the nutritional counseling–we are not eating well enough. But what about people with chronic diarrhea or constipation. I think The Block Center needs to go a step further into that deeper level of gut problems that are causing malabsorption or reabsorption of toxic matter. Has antibiotic use created imbalances that need to be addressed? I will go into this more deeply after I finish more research on probiotics. Look for this in a future blog. If you think you have escaped this problem because you have not had much in the way of antibiotics, think again. More to come explaining why this applies to all of us.