How to Ask About Integrative Care with Standard of Care Providers

By Tammy Ballard

Patients manage the powerless feeling of a cancer diagnosis with a deep determination to pursue every single weapon able to power their battle through treatment to the victory of long-term survival. Most of us will be warned to “AVOID THE INTERNET” and the rabbit holes of information, services, and products that may have no proof of effectiveness or even harmful side effects. Yet, all of us will spend hours before a screen determined to find “something novel that JUST MIGHT work for me.”

Many of us will incorporate new herbal medicines and supplements to our regimens, details of which we may be too apprehensive to share with our oncologist – too uncertain of how and where to interject in clinical visits on chemotherapy side effects, tumor shrinkage, and surgical planning – to inquire on holistic therapies that could potentially reduce side effects and support quality of life and longevity. While the amount of scientific evidence on integrative care varies widely, studies show that some natural medicines and supplements may benefit all of these.

Becoming an active partner with your doctor and other members of your health care team is the first step towards feeling empowered and regaining some of the control lost during cancer treatment. Importantly, your oncologist’s input is critical to ensure supplements and natural medicines are medically sound and safe to use along with your cancer treatment. 

Talking openly with your oncologist and getting the most out of every doctor’s visit is critical during and following cancer treatment and should include professional input on a wellness plan that helps patients take care of their physical, emotional, and other quality-of-life needs.

Core to Wellkasa’s mission is to help inform patients for their care visits with information that can launch a deeper conversation with their clinicians and cancer care teams. Wellkasa’s platform quickly provides patients with the latest evidence on safety and efficacy of supplements, diets & mind-body therapies, interactions with prescribed drugs, and the ability to journal integrative care experiences. With these details, patients can confidently seek clinical perspectives on the following:

  • What supplements may provide me with some benefit?
  • Is it generally safe for me to take these natural medicines?
  • Could the supplement cause problems with my cancer treatment or other medicines I’m taking?
  • If I can take the supplement, how much should I take? How often should I take it? How long can I take it?
  • What side effects should I watch for?

Proactively seeking professional input on these critical questions helps not only to engage and empower patients in their clinical care but also encourage a focus on wellness that is crucial at every stage of life’s journey.