This page is for those of you who are newly diagnosed or who are new to Integrative Medicine (IM), and who are wondering how to find your way into what can at first seem a confusing and complex world. To help you, we use video footage of leading experts speaking at our Your Life & Cancer event. The first weekend of this event was designed to provide an introduction to IM, so these recorded sessions are ideal.
The first two videos set the scene, but after watching those, it is suggested that you follow your interest in which you choose to watch.
In this introductory session, you’ll hear some of the thinking and science behind integration as a way to improve outcomes and quality of life. Professor Robert Thomas is a leading oncologist and has been an advocate for integrating lifestyle approaches into oncology for a couple of decades, making him an ideal person to introduce the subject. Dr Marie Polley is a respected researcher in the field of IM and one of the architects of the Social Prescribing movement that is improving access to non-drug approaches to health across the UK.
Through the Cancer Options consultancy, Patricia Peat has been advising people with cancer on integrative strategies for 20 years. This interview delves further into the thinking behind Integrative Medicine and the many ways in which it can support a patient through treatment, as well as the synergies that exist between conventional treatments and lifestyle approaches. Dr Catherine Zollman is Medical Director of leading charity Penny Brohn UK and has a wealth of experience in supporting people through cancer treatment.
It’s more than likely that the very first place someone with cancer taking a first look ‘outside the box’ of conventional care will look is nutrition. Most people nowadays have some appreciation of the direct connection between nutrition and chronic disease, and indeed nutrition is an excellent starting place in the exploration of the potential of IM. Toral Shah and Kirsten Chick are both highly experienced Nutritional Therapists, and each have their own personal experience of cancer and nutrition to draw on.
The science of the microbiome has witnessed an explosion of attention in recent years that has spilled over into mainstream research. The absolutely central role it has in the success of conventional treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery seems to have come out of nowhere to become a leading focus of attention. Modern lifestyles have played a huge part in changing the nature of our microbiome, and this in turn is playing out in our susceptibility to disease. In summary, it is an enormously important topic. Dr Carol Granger and Miquel Toribio Mateas are both leading experts in this field.
The topic of supplementation is fraught with opposing advice, which makes it the most challenging aspect of nutrition to consider as part of an integrative cancer care programme. This session puts it all in a healthy perspective and will help empower you to find a safe and sensible way forward, and to avoid the many pitfalls that await those new to IM. Dr Sally Moorcroft and Dr Dani Gordon are both medically trained doctors who have trained further in nutrition and have a special interest in supporting people through cancer.
Integrative Medicine is more established in the US than it is in the UK. One of the leading centres that has played a central role in spearheading the move towards integration is the University of Arizona, where Lise Alschuler is Assistant Director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine. If you’re wondering if IM isn’t all a bit ‘fringe’ then this session will build your confidence in the science and logic behind IM. Lise talks to the Medical Director of Penny Brohn UK, Dr Catherine Zollman.
Sophie Sabbage was a trailblazer who expanded our understanding of the experiences of those with cancer immensely. She died in October 2021, but not before outliving her prognosis by some seven years, and not before writing two groundbreaking books: The Cancer Whisperer, and Lifeshocks. In her unique way, she speaks to the Founder of Yes to Life, Robin Daly, about the effects fear can have on every aspect of cancer and cancer treatment, including outcomes.
Decades after an interest was established in the link between nutrition and cancer, along comes the ‘new kid on the block’ – exercise. The impact exercise can have on virtually all cancers and stages is truly spectacular and already well established. It’s the ‘no-brainer’ of lifestyle interventions that has something on offer for everyone. Professor Thomas has played a key role in the establishment and recognition of exercise for cancer, and Lizzy Davis is a trained cancer exercise specialist.
As every year goes by, the impact that chronic stress has on our health and wellbeing gains further appreciation amongst practitioners and researchers. For those completely habituated to stress, it can seem unimportant or even ‘normal’, but the part it can play in the establishment and progress of cancer is being increasingly recognised, and it is not wise to underestimate its impact. Dr Lauren Macdonald is a Psychologist with personal experience of cancer who in her work focuses her attention on the body-mind connection. Dr Catherine Zollman is Medical Director of leading charity Penny Brohn UK.
The range of options for laboratory tests has mushroomed in recent years. It can seem like they’re all important, but, quite apart from the fact that few people can afford more than a handful, there are actually ways to prioritise tests so as to maximise the impact of the results on treatment decisions. This session, while giving an overview of what is available, makes it clear how to avoid pitfalls, such as wasting money on tests that ultimately have no relevance. Dr Nina Fuller-Shavel and Jo Gamble both specialise in cancer support and have extensive experience of laboratory testing.
The role of environmental toxins in cancer is now widely accepted and it highlights the importance of both reducing our exposure and our ‘toxic load’ – the level of toxins residing in our tissues. Dr Jenny Goodman is a specialist in nutritional and environmental medicine and is author of Staying Alive in Toxic Times. Sara Davenport founded the Breast Cancer Haven charity and is a health writer with a particular interest in cancer.
Mindfulness does indeed have a great weight of research behind it. It is a leading approach to dealing with issues such as stress and many other challenges of going through cancer, and is well worth exploring as a free and accessible means of support. Professor Linda Carlson is a leading Psycho-oncologist and Clare McClusky is a Mindfulness Teacher.
A fascinating sharing of perspectives between two leading professors working with integrative cancer care strategies on either side of the Atlantic. Professor Abrams is an integrative oncologist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco while Professor Thomas is consultant oncologist at Bedford and Addenbrookes Hospitals.
Radical Remission is the title of a groundbreaking book by Dr Kelly Turner, the result of many years researching what used to be known as ‘spontaneous remissions’. What her research revealed is that these remissions are not nearly as spontaneous as characterised, and involve a highly focused combination of multiple lifestyle interventions, ten of which turned out to be common to everyone surveyed. This research has proved to be hugely inspirational, notably for those faced with a poor prognosis. Tara Flanagan, cancer survivor and key figure in the Radical Remission community, talks to Yes to Life Founder, Robin Daly.
This last video is a panel session in which Dr Catherine Zollman is joined by three people with lived experience of cancer – Philip Booth, Yes to Life Wigwam Co-ordinator, Gilly Bertram, Nutritional Therapist, and Sophie Trew, activist and founder of Trew Fields and the Trew Health Community. The whole session is given over to audience questions with the aim of helping guide people confidently towards their next steps.