Holistic Support for Cancer Patients: the Naturopathic Perspective


Photo: Thanks to Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Marcel Hernandez, ND

How can naturopathic medicine help you cope with serious illness?

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the naturopathic approach, it can be instructive to look at the extremes. And few diseases are more extreme than cancer.

Marcel Hernandez, ND
Marcel Hernandez, ND

In my medical practice, I spend the majority of my time helping people come to grips with cancer. My years of intimate familiarity with my patients’ struggles have persuaded me of the tremendous value of an approach that takes account of our whole being – body,  feelings, will, mind, and soul.

The long-term cancer survivors among my patients share a number of commonalities. At the top of the list are three factors that have little to do with the physical details of their treatment:

Cancer commonality #1: Long-term cancer survivors have sources of emotional comfort and support:  friends, family, church, support groups, counselors, a sympathetic medical team, etc.

Cancer commonality #2: Long-term cancer survivors believe they are going to survive and have a powerful will to live. Therefore, they take an active, energetic approach to their own wellness.

Cancer commonality #3: Long-term cancer survivors have a deep source of connection to a power greater than themselves. In my view, this is the heart and soul of every effective approach to dealing with chronic illness.

It’s terribly easy to say that we believe in God – the words tumble easily from our lips. But it’s much more difficult to say that the constant focus of our lives is loving surrender to God’s will.

Please don’t misunderstand – I am by no means saying that a person with chronic illness should simply sit back and let God take charge, while doing nothing to help themselves.

On the contrary, I believe it is our joyful divinely appointed privilege to make wise, healthy decisions on behalf of our bodies, and to care for the body as a sacred temple – which it is.

But in the final analysis, this frail shell was created to house the soul. And I believe it is a grave error to worship the temple while paying lip service to the essence that dwells within.

A patient came to me recently, having experienced a recurrence of his lung cancer.

Although he followed a spiritual path, he was finding it hard to release his mental and emotional attachment to the body.

As we spoke, I realized that his attachment to his physical form was creating a tremendous fear of what lay ahead, in an existence free of the body.

As I listened, I felt that despite his spiritual inclinations, he had not actually cultivated an inner relationship that would give him a comforting awareness of the living Spirit within him.

He was limited to coveting the temple while remaining unaware of the inner presence. He was finding cold comfort in the abstract principles of his path, at a time when the fates were challenging him to confront his mortality.

As he expressed his fear of leaving his material form, I turned the conversation to several medical therapies that I felt would help him align himself with the higher teachings of the path he had followed for so many years.

I knew that such a re-alignment might not save his life, but that it would surely give him comfort and bolster his happiness.

In the Bible, we find any number of re‑statements, variously expressed, of Jesus’ saying: “Thy will be done.”

I feel a personal resonance with Lawrence Wilson, MD’s interpretation: “Please, God of Creation, merge with me, in order to bring forth the true desire of God in and through me.”

More times than I can remember, I’ve been blessed to feel the joyful results of cultivating an inner connection with a divine power greater than myself. It comes as a release from fear, and a blissful experience of God’s boundless love.

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work, click HERE.