Introduction to New Approaches, the Holistic Approach and the 5 Step Approach to the Prevention and Control of Ill Health.
This page contains the information from our introductory booklet on one long page, specially formatted to allow you to print all the information easily in one go.
Who We Are
New Approaches to Cancer is a registered charity providing an "umbrella" for a national network of hundreds of self-help groups, volunteers and holistic practitioners. Through them, and through a regular two- way contact with the world's leading specialists in holistic cancer care, we offer help and information to the public and to health professionals.
Our aim is to encourage a way of living which will lower the risks of cancer taking hold at all, and help those in whom it has surfaced. So whether you are well - or ill - a phone call to our office can help with the initial information, soothe fears, explain uncertainties and, most importantly, give confidence when it is most needed. We also put callers in touch with their local support groups and with specialist clinics here and abroad. We have a large reference library and can direct enquiries about our recommended reading materials, tapes, etc.
The Holistic Approach
There is more understanding, more help, more hope for cancer patients today than ever before. Cancer is talked about, publicised; its conquerors and patients tell their stories on television and in the press. The old taboos have gone.
But public awareness of medical matters has put under the spotlight the rift between traditional methods and the increasingly popular holistic approach. This sees the person as a multi-dimensional being, not a machine; the protection of health as a matter, not only for the body, but also the mind and spirit. Each depends upon the other and sickness occurs when that inter- relationship goes wrong. This is not a new idea. It was urged by the father of medicine, Hippocrates, two and a half thousand years ago!
The holistic practitioner believes that traditional medicine can be greatly enhanced by the knowledge of complementary therapies. Acupuncture, homoeopathy, herbalism, reflexology and so on are not necessarily "alternative", they can be complementary to surgery, radio and chemotherapy. There is no need for patients to abandon their family doctor when they decide to utilise complementary therapies and natural medicines. The largest cancer hospitals use diet and meditation as an optional therapy for cancer patients. Medical experts of all persuasions should pool their knowledge and encourage the patient to join the team and assume responsibility for his/her own well-being.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is probably as old as life itself. It has been found in fossils and in Egyptian mummies.
Every human body contains about ten billion cells, controlled by what scientists call DNA (deoxrybonucleic acid). DNA is the raw material of life; it provides the computer programme for each cell. Sometimes, and no-one knows exactly why, the DNA fails to stop a cell dividing at the right time and it runs amok. About one hundred thousand of these malignant cells are formed in us each day and are usually destroyed by the natural body immune system. But if the immune system is weakened in any number of ways, cells invade the body tissue and prevent its proper healing function.
This is what we know as "Cancer" and it can occur in several hundred forms, so there is unlikely ever to be one miracle cure or magic bullet.
It is probably true that most cancers can be avoided by a change of lifestyle; that it is the conditions we ourselves create which provide the soil on which it grows. There is a huge element of chance whether it will get out of hand in any one of us.
Human cancers in particular seem to thrive in a climate where the need to compete, removal of taboos, loss of religious belief, has become too much for us to handle. Stresses such as divorce, guilt, fears, bereavement, redundancy etc. probably DO NOT CAUSE but they may help cancer develop. So too do poor, over- processed foods and, of course, pollution. Cancer is also one of the natural consequences of ageing and since we tend to live longer, more of us may develop it later in life.
Of course cancer can be ugly, degrading and painful. Frequently it is none of these. So take heart.
The statistics may look bad; therefore turn the statistics on their head. One in four of us dies from cancer - true. That means three out of four survive. Everywhere, on buses, escalators and in supermarkets we pass people living with cancer. It is NOT always the relentless killer we dread.
Hope is greater for the optimist who banishes all negative thoughts and gets on with the business of living - well. We at New Approaches try to make this possible, guiding anyone who requests our help, individually, through the bewildering maze of unfamiliar options open today, and also, where we are able, with facts about new developments in traditional and holistic medicine.
If we do not have the answers to your particular questions we will know where to direct you.
The First Step
Take control. It is your health. Your body. This is why callers are usually recommended to contact their local support group. There is often a sense of confusion and isolation after a cancer diagnosis. Sharing the burden not only eases the strain on physical and emotional levels, it also gives the family courage and hope to realise that there are so many ways they can learn to help themselves.
A cancer support group is not a gloomy, introspective place. Nor is it a haven for witch doctors and food freaks. Mostly they are efficient, cheerful and unself-pitying. There is laughter and honesty.
Groups vary in size and purpose. There are those run in private homes, rather like clubs, which offer counselling, practical help and the comfort of being with others coping with similar problems. There are some with purpose-designed premises and a team of specialists working more like a medical centre. All try to liaise with local General Practitioners and hospital consultants. Most offer classes in relaxation, meditation and nutrition and advice on complementary therapies.
You will find meetings attended by men and women, many of whom face, or are recovering from the effects of, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. There will be others learning to face death, for the holistic approach to life acknowledges that there is also a "time to die", but tries to improve the quality of life whichever path a patient is following and wherever they have reached.
Costs vary. A day at a Cancer Centre may be free, or there may be a nominal charge since workers are mostly volunteers. Professional fees - for acupuncture for instance - have a sliding scale which can usually be adapted to the pocket of the patient. Never let financial worries prevent you from seeking help. Very often if you are not able to get to a centre, they will send someone to befriend you. You are only a call away, so there is no need to feel alone.
What You Can Eat
Good food, plenty of gentle exercise and regular checks are common sense body maintenance whether or not you have cancer. But there is so much contradictory advice about nutrition, so many miracle diets and so much forbidden food that it is easy to panic and give up before you have begun. There is no doubt that some of the strict regimes do work but they may not suit everyone - the hair shirt approach is not for all! If in doubt, it is better to adopt a nutritional programme that is practical for you and your family and will cause you no stress to follow, nor too much guilt if you falter.
We advise you that it is important to consult nutritional specialists. We have devised our own routine for sensible eating which should be attainable wherever you live and whatever your budget. It is not a guarantee of perfect health - it is a step in the right direction.
So, it is YES to:
REDUCE or CUT OUT:
This is the outline principle.
Feeding the Spirit and the Mind
Western medicine has been, traditionally, more concerned with the anatomy and physiology of the body rather than with the less tangible forces that also affect the way we feel. In the East these energies are recognised as the "life force" or "the breath of life". When they are balanced or flowing freely we are well; when they become blocked or disturbed we become sick. These inner resources can, to a large extent, be controlled by the mind, and increasingly, orthodox doctors are accepting the need to harness this power in order to assist the body to heal itself.
There are many methods of healing. Through a local cancer support group you will discover which is right for you. There is much more to it than magic and miracles. Some people find that the help of a trained "healer" is beneficial. Healers believe that energy channelled through the hands can be activated by the mind of one person and trigger off changes in another. Some act within various beliefs, seeing their gifts as a manifestation of God's power; others believe there is no Divine intervention and that the direct contact between patient and healer is a form of bio-electro-magnetism. Either way it is an ancient phenomenon, common to all faiths and all cultures and whilst instant miracle cures are rare, improvements can sometimes be dramatic and inexplicable. We have plenty of such evidence.
Cancer has been described by one great American surgeon as a message - to change the whole approach to your life. It is your choice - either to remain tied to old patterns that have probably lost their meaning, or to explore a new gentle path which could set free the springs of self-healing within you and so transform your life, however long or short it may be.
Lawrence Le Shan, the world authority on the psychology of cancer, says "the people most capable of recovery are men and women who can discover a new wellspring of hope, whatever their past disappointments, and move on to a fresh sense of themselves, a true recognition of their worth as human beings". In other words, you learn to sing your own song.
Often cancer patients have been emotionally lonely, isolated and even filled with self-dislike since childhood. Very often they come to live for someone else alone. This is not enough - and it is why cancer frequently appears to be triggered by a major stress such as the loss of a husband or wife, by divorce or by sexual problems within a marriage.
Finding a sense of purpose and self-confidence is tough, but it is tougher if you have cancer. It can seldom be achieved alone. However, with the help of a friend, a priest, a counsellor, it IS possible to change the emotional blueprint we are born with and steer a course that makes us feel more at peace within ourselves.
Stress is not something that happens from outside. Life is full of challenges; these in themselves do not constitute stress. It is what WE create by the way we meet the challenge. Just as emotional tensions have a negative effect on the body, suppressing the proper functioning of the immune system, so laughter can have the reverse effect. Mind can over-rule matter - remember Snoopy's message "I am the sunshine of my life".
Relaxation, meditation and visualisation are steps on the way to this self-discovery, and can be learned at most local cancer support groups. Relaxation is the first, simple stage towards the deeper, all-absorbing exploration of the senses during meditation and individual visualisation. These are techniques which must gradually be woven into the fabric of everyday life; not only do they have practical benefits - lowering blood pressure and easing physical pain - but they also lower the emotional "pain threshold" which reduces anxiety and brings new awareness. New Approaches can advise on local suitable teachers of these techniques.
If there is a message shining through the cancer story, it is for more trust and teamwork between patient and practitioner. The holistic approach to life, in which body, mind and spirit are intertwined, does not relate to cancer alone. But the emotive power of cancer cloaks it in a special kind of responsibility. Since we tend to give it pride of place, let it be a shop window for a more positive view of health, in which the important factor is how we live; not why we die. That is the way to undermine cancer's hold on us.
A Five-Step Approach to Prevention and Control of Ill Health
Because so little is understood about the prevention and control of ill health, a simple 5-step approach has been devised for anyone who may (i) want to prevent themselves from falling ill, (ii) have some form of disease, whether it be cancer, arthritis, hay fever, a simple cold or any other disharmony, and (iii) may want to understand what has happened to them and how they can reverse the process.
The 5-step approach is as follows:
STEP 1. NEED
We need to be needed, somewhere, by someone, at home, or at work. To have a sense of security and a meaning in life - a worthwhile job, or a hobby which provides a sense of happy fulfilment. Write down the answer for you and note these must be 100% truthful!
Q1: Do you feel needed? Yes/No
Q2: Do you feel secure in yourself? Yes/No
Q3: Is there a deep meaning in your life? Yes/No
Q4: Do you feel a sense of fulfilment and contentment? Yes/No
Q5: Are you truly happy? Yes/No
STEP 2. WILL
We have to have the will to live or to be healthy. To fight for what we want is all important. We need not be victims in this life. We can control our own destiny.
Q6: Do you have the will to live? Yes/No
Q7: Do you have the will to be healthy? Yes/No
Q8: Are you prepared to make changes? Yes/No
STEP 3. LOVE
Love is more powerful than any medicine. We need to build close relationships (wife or husband, child, friend, nurse, social worker, doctor, health visitor .) with someone who has time to listen, who works with love, who can provide hope, encouragement, expectations and belief in success - and can help us to love ourselves. When two or more people work together in this way, something extra enters in - it becomes a healing relationship.
Q9: Do you have a close one-to-one relationship with someone? Yes/No
Q10: Do they work with love? Yes/No
Q11: And have time to listen to you? Yes/No
Q12: And provide hope, expectation and a belief in success? Yes/No
Q13: Do you love yourself? Yes/No
STEP 4. WISDOM
Wisdom is a gift. It is the ability to learn from life. To realise that health is a natural condition; that we can learn lessons from ill health and suffering and change our way of life and our attitudes. Begin to think positively and forgive those who we believe have hurt us. Any hurt within us eats or gnaws so take firm definite acts to undo that hurt by all means. Give your total unconditional love to all. Expect nothing in return. Only then are we well on the way to success.
Wisdom is the ability to accept responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, and for our ability to influence health.
Wisdom is the ability to be open-minded in all things, to understand what ill health is, from a holistic viewpoint.
Wisdom is also the belief that disease is a disharmony at some level of our being, whether it be spiritual, intellectual, in the subconscious, or in the emotions, and that the body is the physical instrument on which all symptoms appear, as a result of this disharmony. Only then can we begin to understand the cause or causes of our disease.
Wisdom is the ability to accept that "I can heal myself and control my health". There are many ways in which "I can heal myself", ranging from nutrition to yoga, from self-healing to positive thinking ... and that there are many ways "I can be helped" by conventional medicine and by complementary medicine, from acupuncture to healing, from meditation to prayer, from vitamins to herbal remedies. This initial zest for life must come from the inner self.
Wisdom is acceptance of the fact that our lifestyle and environment directly affect our health and that we must adapt to a healthy lifestyle and ensure that our home/work environment does not prevent us from enjoying a quiet mind.
Q14: Do you accept personal responsibility for your thoughts, actions and health? Yes/No
Q15: Are you open-minded? Yes/No
Q16: Do you understand health? Ill Health? The causes of your ill health, if any? The holistic approach? Yes/No
Q17: Do you know how you can help yourself? And how you can be helped? Yes/No
Q18: Do you have a quiet mind without fear, worry, jealousy, envy? Yes/No
Q19: Can you forgive others unconditionally? Yes/No
Q20: Can you ask forgiveness? Yes/No
Q21: Can you give selfless love? Yes/No
Q22: Are your lifestyle and your environment healthy? Yes/No
STEP 5. DEDICATION
If you are very ill or want to be healthy, extreme dedication is necessary to regain and then maintain health. See your objectives ahead of you, and dedicate ALL your energy and concentration on reaching that objective - this is essential "tunnel vision". Do not let yourself be distracted. This requires hard work, self discipline, patience and perseverance. We have within us an inner core (the self) which will give us the strength we need. Make contact with this inner you. This is your spiritual nature.
Practise all the self healing of which you are capable e.g. positive thinking, regular exercise, nutrition, breathing, sunlight for a limited time daily, relaxation.
Be selfish in your determination to recover good health. The help you can give to others is limited if you are not healthy. Others who are healthy can learn to help you more than before.
Q23: Can you see health as your objective? Yes/No
Q24: Can you discipline yourself? And work hard? Yes/No
Q25: Can you ignore distractions? Be selfish? Practise tunnel vision? Yes/No
How did you score on the Yes/No?
Were you absolutely truthful in your replies? Perhaps you should look over your answers again so you can identify exactly where your weaknesses and strengths lie?