I received the following message from a patient’s spouse:

“We are needing some insight into this protocol. Are we doing everything we are to do to get on top of this cancer? … Wondering if we need to alter anything, drop anything, add anything? We are following the protocol and not seeming to see changes in the right direction … It seems like a steady decline instead of betterment … Are we sure we are fighting the root cause? … I’m sorry if I sound desperate but we were hoping for better results and may be a little impatient. We also don’t want to just throw something else at it but work with you guys to fine tune what we are doing … Some personal involvement would be greatly appreciated.”

I’m fairly confident I’m not just speaking on behalf of alternative cancer clinics when I say that receiving a thread of questions like this is not uncommon. In fact, the majority of patients who turn to alternative cancer therapies do so after they’ve already traversed the Western Medical System and struggled to see their desired results.

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When a patient (or caretaker) has implemented all protocol recommendations, has held fast to strict dietary and supplemental guidelines and yet perceives that, within a given amount of time, the overall condition of the patient is not getting better, it is disheartening, to say the least.

When it comes to cancer, time never seems to be on our side. It makes perfect sense that patients would doggedly monitor their progress for any signs of improvement, especially if their original diagnosis was grim.

Add to that the unintentional pressure that can come from well-meaning friends, family, other practitioners or the patient’s preexisting notions, and the expectation for natural medicine to “perform” grows even greater.

What is difficult with this expectation is that it creates a breeding ground for fear and resentment and even blame. Fear, because not achieving results within a desired time-frame sets them on a course for losing hope. Resentment, because they believe the practitioner somehow promised them that they would be cured and now the promise has been broken. And blame, because if they’ve done everything they’ve been told to do and aren’t “better”, then it has to be someone’s fault.

But what if it’s no one’s fault? What if, it’s simply an example of what it means to live in a natural world?

When it comes to working with nature – which is how alternative medicine functions – practitioners can provide the best direction possible, and the patient can put forth the best effort possible, but they still cannot force that patient’s body to respond better, faster, or smoother than it’s capable of naturally responding.

Natural medicine is not intended to be a short-term performance or a “heal me” light-switch that just needs to be turned from off to on.

Healing, naturally, is a process. A process that runs only at the speed of Nature. A speed which cannot be dictated by humans, no matter how much we will it to be so. Even when assisted by the best natural medicine available, every person’s body is going to respond in its own timing and at its own rate.

Could a natural response happen quickly? Sure! I’ve seen patients’ bodies perform miracles I thought I’d only imagined in my dreams. Could this response happen gradually over time? Yes. A little too slowly for comfort? Yes. So slow that the patient’s decline outpaces the time needed to heal? Sadly, yes. It could. And it has.

I know there are people reading this who will think, “Then what’s the point? Why choose a path that might not help me heal as fast as I want to heal?”

Because healing through natural modalities is the safest, gentlest, most supportive and longest lasting path to a lifetime-of-wellness that is available to us. And if you ask ANY patient who has chosen to implement this path {either with or without traditional medical treatments}, they will tell you they have no regrets in doing so. If they regret anything, it’s typically that they regret not making lifestyle changes sooner.

This doesn’t abate frustrations over the ups and downs that accompany a natural medical approach, but it can help provide a backbone for when life gets tough and it seems results aren’t happening fast enough to satisfy us.

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Traditional medical treatments are sometimes able to force a faster response rate through pharmacological interventions. This often gives patients what they’re initially looking for: immediate, quantifiable results. But these powerful interventions also come at the risk of significant side-effects and the potential onset of other issues {such as secondary cancers caused by chemotherapy or organ damage due to chemical toxicity}. Anything that is forced above and beyond the bounds of nature will have a much more stark cause-and-effect.

Natural medicine, conversely, does not force the body to change. It encourages the body to begin to repair itself, which is both the beauty of our God-given form as well as a source of frustration for those who desire results at a different pace.

I wish I was able to provide guarantees that, by making a commitment to alternative therapies, my patients’ symptoms would immediately begin to turn in their desired direction. However, those are guarantees I cannot make. NO practitioner can – or should – make those kinds of promises, it’s just plain wrong.

It’s important for patients to remember this: everything natural, whether diet, supplementation, detoxification, emotional/spiritual work, etc., is foundational to any person’s overall health and healing. And the moment you begin implementing it is the exact moment your body begins to respond, whether or not we notice it.
My patient’s spouse did the right thing by reaching out and asking us to take another look at the overall protocol. That is what we ask of all of our patients and that is what creates a healthy and effective patient-practitioner relationship.
It can be hard to receive messages like this because I, too, desperately want my patients’ to see immediate results. But these tough questions are important for me to receive because they challenge me to be a better practitioner, to examine if what we’re doing is right for that patient, and figure out if there’s anything else we can add that will encourage nature to do what it does best: heal.

The Patient Question Series covers patient-initiated topics-of-conversation. To protect our patients’ privacy, questions & answers have been tailored for anonymity and do not reflect the exact, patient-specific wording from the original dialogue.