Having the courage to stand your ground


Stand solid, stand alone if necessary.

When you have cancer, it brings out opinions in people. “You should listen to your doctor”, “I heard this herb cures cancer, you should take it”, “How can vitamin D prevent cancer, that’s ridiculous”, etc…

When you have cancer, or any other chronic condition, you will get suggestions from all directions from friends and family. This can be simply overwhelming, to the point where you just don’t know what to believe, and who to listen to.  But, do you know what?  Through all that confusion, it simply means that these people care enough about you to try to help.

Sometimes it could be a doctor’s recommendation that you don’t agree with, or feel the need to investigate her recommendation before you make a decision. In our western society, we are raised to listen to authority, especially our doctors.

I’ve come to realize since my diagnosis in 2010, that I can be an empowered patient.  It took me awhile to not only educate myself on what options are out there in the world that are not just surgery and drugs, but to muster up the courage to question, research, form my own opinions and ultimately act on them.

This courage is not easy. Sitting face-to-face with a well-respected oncologist and not taking her advice is difficult, especially when she looks at me disapprovingly for even daring to question her recommendation. I’m not one to cause conflict, but I am one who knows what I want.  I take an integrative approach to my health – using both western and so-called ‘alternative’ or complementary methods.  I don’t dismiss either, and I think all methods should be considered and the best way chosen for a particular condition.

Do you ever question when your doctor grabs a prescription form rather than discusses what could be the root of your ailment?  If you don’t, you should, especially if you have a chronic situation.  Our bodies have the capacity to self-heal, and sometimes we should not readily accept that it’s normal to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic digestion problems, etc. Most western doctors don’t have the time, or interest, to talk to you about holistic health care. I don’t blame them, but you can take control of your own research and decisions.

If you are someone who has that little voice in your head when you have a health condition and really don’t like to take drugs or have surgery, then please listen to that little voice and take the time to explore, see different doctors, and talk to lots of people about alternatives.  If you find something that you believe is right for you, have the courage to stand your ground despite what others think.

Standing your ground applies to anything in your life, not just what you choose for your own healthcare.  Honour yourself. Honour what you believe is right for you. Listen to what others say but still do what is right for yourself.

Stand your ground, respectfully.


I recently wrote this post: ‘Can you let go of someone’s bad decision?’.  It’s about letting go of someone else’s decisions, but in the context of the above post, turn it around 180 degrees… can you help others let go of your decisions?  Help others realize they need to respect your decisions and not judge?


Connect Health – How Wellness can save healthcare

Connect Health

Connect Health – an integrative & functional medical centre leading the way in Vancouver, BC.

Our healthcare system needs a major overhaul.  Having learned what I have learned just in the last few years has opened my eyes to how our mindset needs to change – how our system needs to change.

I am not generally someone who would shout from the hilltops or lead a protest. But now I understand how the healthcare system (both in Canada and the US) is so heavily influenced by big money and the pharmaceutical companies. The net effect of this is that many health screening tests and treatments are not in our mainstream system.  The big dollars go to symptom and disease-management, not wellness-management.

There are so many, lesser known, effective, non-invasive and natural and well-researched tests and treatments that most people do not know about. These are generally offered by small companies who just do not have the marketing dollars.

The person who has the interest, motivation, time and money can discover really effective healthcare options outside of mainstream.  But how do you know if an alternative option is safe and effective?  What if it is snake oil?  That’s the challenge.

  • The area of holistic healthcare is definitely a passion for me. ‘Holistic’ meaning taking care of the body, mind, spirit, and emotions.
  • Managing your health using an integrative approach is also a passion of mine.  ‘Integrative’ meaning using both conventional/western (ie: surgery, pharmaceutical drugs) and alternative approaches (ie: natural treatments, acupuncture, food as medicine, supplements, etc) as appropriate, where the doctor and patient are partners in decision-making.

There are more and more integrative wellness clinics opening up here in Vancouver, BC.  It’s exciting to see. As I talk to people about this subject, I have definitely seen a shift in thinking and people are waking up to the fact that mainstream healthcare often fails us, treating the symptoms and not the root cause of illness, and sometimes makes us even sicker with drugs and their side effects.

I would like to highlight Connect Health, a wonderful centre in Vancouver for integrative and functional medicine (root cause approach). They have a wonderful team of professionals who have a new vision for health care. Dr. Lawrence Cheng and Dr. Ashley Riskin are the founders and clinical directors of Connect Health.  I was very impressed with them the first time I met them.  They are emergency doctors in a hospital and at the same time run Connect Health with the right approach, and have trained with Dr. Andrew Weil. They impressed me so much that I am proud to say that I now teach meditation through their centre.

Please read a wonderful article ‘How wellness can save health care’ about Connect Health and their approach. I have sent many friends to Connect Health and my friends all enthusiastically thank me for referring them.

Is there a call to action in this post?  My request is that when it comes to your health, be open and then curious to non-mainstream approaches.  Have the courage to seek. Understand that there is a lot out there that works beyond your traditional doctor’s office.  Start discussing and discovering options with your friends and family. 


Allopathic, alternative and integrative health care

integrative medicine

Integrative medicine is the usage of both conventional western medicine and alternative medicine methods. It’s about caring for the ‘whole person’.

One systemic problem I see in western society healthcare is when medical professionals only use allopathic (drugs and surgery) or ‘conventional western’ methods. But in fairness to our western-trained medical professionals, I understand the dilemma that they often do not have enough time to consider the ‘whole person’.

When faced with a health issue, some people have a mindset of ‘just give me a pill and I’ll be on my way’.  The problem with drugs and surgery is that they just address the symptom, not the underlying reason that the issue developed in the first place.

There is still a stigma around the terms alternative or complementary methods.  Partaking in things like acupuncture, herbs, massage therapy, nutrition, yoga, meditation, etc, is sometimes looked upon by skeptics as ‘oh, you like those alternative methods’.  Anyone who says that is ignorant about whole person care (I say ‘ignorant’ in a respectful way; meaning they just are not well-informed). Many of these methods were developed hundreds and thousands of years ago and were largely lost by western society in recent years.

A newer term is blossoming in the western world today. It’s called integrative medicine or health care.  Here is what integrative medicine is:

  • A practical strategy, integrative medicine puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.
  • The patient is an informed and empowered partner and the medical professionals personalize their care to best address the individual’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances.
  • Emphasizes regaining health, prevention, health maintenance and early intervention, and utilizes all appropriate, evidenced-based and personalized therapeutic approaches.

One very important thing to understand is the integrative medicine does not dismiss conventional western medicine (ie, drugs and surgery), it works in conjunction with them.

I personally feel that conventional methods alone are a narrow-minded approach.  However, it does take time assemble various  professionals who can provide services whose approaches work well together.  What I’m noticing here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is that ‘integrative clinics’ are popping up all over town. This is a good thing, but there is no standard for what such a clinic would provide, so the patient needs to take control of their own approach to health care.

There is a wonderful integrative cancer care center in Vancouver, British Columbia, called Connect Health.  They treat the whole person from a root cause viewpoint.  A truly inspirational and amazing organization.

If you or a loved one is facing a health issue, do consider an integrative approach.

The reason I decided to write this post is in the hope that if you or a loved one is ever faced with a health issue or simply want to cultivate optimal health, you will consider an integrative approach rather than automatically succumbing to only western medicine drugs and surgery.

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