|If we hope to integrate the belief in and practice of holistic health on a wide-scale basis, we must
first "unmuddle" our communication of the principles.
Through the Cancer Conquerors Foundation, we have attempted to do this. The context is our work with cancer patients and their families. The format is a combination of lecture and small group discussions. Participants attend a weekly session which lasts two hours.
Although we were certainly helping people, it became clear we were missing the mark when it came to putting the program into meaningful use. Participants would get a bit here, a piece there. Confusion on what to do or when to do it was often the biggest problem.
We need a simple-to-understand and easy-to-implement model that brought all the plan's elements together. In response, we developed the following eight-point wellness plan. This simple tool has been credited with making holistic health understandable and workable for thousands of people who had vague or negative perceptions of the principles.
We first teach the fundamental principle that wellness is much more than the lack of physical symptoms. Total well-being and the interdependence of body/mind/spirit is new to nearly all our participants. We emphasize that our minds and spirits are ill only if we allow it. This issue of personal responsibility for our choices is a theme that is carried throughout the program.
Each of the eight points of the Cancer Conquerors wellness program cover basic holistic beliefs and practices. One point in the plan is typically emphasized each session.
Treatment We teach participants to practice these techniques in addition to, not in place of, appropriate qualified physical, emotion, and spiritual guidance.
People are encouraged to hold a strong belief in their wellness team both as people and as to the practices they recommend.
Beliefs and attitudes Most of our time is spent challenging the myths about illness. There are widely-held beliefs that cancer means death. Similar beliefs of suffering, incapacitation, or one's imminent demise are also held for other illnesses. We teach that each person's experience is different and that there is much we can do to influence our personal encounter with disease.
Exercise Cancer Conquerors teaches a simple program of "comfort zone" physical exercise. Full-body stretches that can be done whether one is confined to bed or is mobile are possible for everyone. For those who are able, we encourage a walking routine working up to a maximum of 30 minutes per day.
Work/Play We give people permission to play. For many, it is one of our most important teachings. For others, we encourage a new look at their life's purpose, helping them explore and find a work that brings fulfillment on many levels. We strive for a work/play balance.
Social support We ask people to make an appraisal of the relationships in their lives, both personal and professional. Participants are encouraged to give minimal time and emotional energy to those relationships that are toxic. This frequently means some relationships need to be put "on hold" for a time. Social support also means participation in the weekly support groups.
Diet and nutrition We recommend a "modified" vegetarian plan that emphasizes fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and lots of whole grains. Fish and poultry, in moderation, are included. We also recommend considering antioxidant supplements.
Creative thinking Progressive physical relaxation accompanied by affirmation, meditation, and visualization is taught. We use the relaxation response method developed by Herbert Benson, M.D. This has become an important daily wellness action point for thousands associated with Cancer Conquerors.
Spiritual Emphasis is on spirituality, not religion. Unconditional love, acceptance versus approval, forgiveness, and following God's will are the keys.
The result of teaching holistic health in this simple and straight-forward manner has been a greater
understanding and practice of the principles by a larger number of people. While this model is not a
complete discussion of holistic health, for the vast majority of people, it is just the level of
understanding needed by many.