Intuition in Healing Choices
A substantial scientific literature shows the power of intuition in making choices. Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking provides a popular summary of the science. Correctly used, your intuition can be a key tool in making choices in conventional and integrative cancer care.
Insight can be trained and cultivated. It can also be corrupted and misused. The right use of intuition is an invaluable tool.
- What are your goals in cancer treatment?
- What are your beliefs about cancer care?
- What are you willing and able to do?
Would you prefer to:
- Pursue a cure with a difficult diagnosis and difficult treatments at any cost
- Focus on quality of life
Your goals help you choose treatments.
Some people trust mainstream medicine and are wary of anything outside it. Others trust complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies and are wary of conventional medicine. Still others are open-minded about both. What do you believe? Your comfort with various cancer-care approaches will help define your choices.
Willing and Able
What are you willing and able to undertake in terms of:
- Medical procedures
- Lifestyle changes
Your answers can help you narrow the options to suit yourself.
We Don’t Tell You What to Do
We can't tell you what treatments to choose. We do believe you should know your options and what the science says about them. What holds promise and what should you be cautious about?
Example 1: James
James is 80 years old and was recently diagnosed with stage I prostate cancer. He wants to trust his local oncologist and follow his advice. Interesting lifestyle therapy options are available for James, including the 7 healing practices and natural products. However, they involve deep changes in eating, exercise, stress management, and more.
James does not believe that lifestyle changes provide much benefit or that the effort would be worthwhile for him. Instead, he is drawn to options in mainstream therapies, including surgery, radiation, and "wait and watch."
If James wants to trust his oncologist and live the way he has always lived, we don’t advise trying to change his mind. His cancer experience is his own, and no one else can write his story. If James changes his mind at some point and wants to explore other options, he might see what other approaches resonate for him.
Example 2: Lisa
Lisa is a 25-year-old woman who was just diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. She hates the idea of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy and wants to “try some natural therapies first.”
There are dangers to Lisa's approach. Breast cancer in early stages can respond well to conventional treatments, possibly being curable. If her cancer progresses to metastatic stage IV, conventional therapies will have little effect. Lisa has a decent chance for a lasting recovery using conventional therapies. Her best bet would be to integrate conventional and complementary therapies and not pursue complementary therapies alone.
When curative conventional therapies are available—and complementary and alternative therapies are rarely known to be reliably curative—we'd want Lisa to understand the risk she is taking if she declines or delays conventional therapies for too long.
Be True to Yourself
Your goals and beliefs may change over time. Who you are, what you believe, and what you are trying to accomplish matter in all cancer therapy and especially in integrative cancer therapies.
Explore your goals, beliefs, and how to work with a medical team by visiting our Questions for Your Care Providers page.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Are You Considering a Complementary Health Approach?
- Jeannine Walston, Healing Now: Cancer Diagnosis Navigation
- Anticancer Lifestyle Program: 5 Tips for Interfacing with the Medical World
- Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Talking about Complementary and Alternative Medicine with Health Care Providers: A Workbook and Tips
- Triage Cancer
- Dr. Susan Love: Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book
- Ralph Moss, PhD: The Ultimate Guide to Cancer: DIY Research
- Commonweal: Healing Circles
- Jeremy R. Geffen, MD, FACP: The Journey through Cancer: An Oncologist's Seven-Level Program for Healing and Transforming the Whole Person
- Norman Cousins: Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit
Enter your comments or questions below.
I would like to have my cancer treatment in Mexico, how can I do that, is there some place I can contact ?