What Are the Disadvantages of Supplemental Therapy?

Each supplemental therapy has advantages and disadvantages. Even though most supplemental therapies are «nonprescription,» they sometimes involve a real risk of significant physical or emotional harm. Discuss with your doctors the medical risks and benefits to you. The pursuit of supplemental therapy requires an investment of your time, energy, or money.

When you believe in the potential benefit of a particular supplemental therapy, you nourish hope and a sense of control. On the other hand, if you feel pressured to pursue supplemental therapy or if you «want» to believe but are actually very skeptical of the benefits, the pursuit may be counterproductive. Under these and other circumstances, various supplemental therapies heighten rather than lessen your anxiety, drain rather than bolster your energy, and cause rather than relieve symptoms.

Make your decisions about supplemental therapy with the same care that you used in choosing your conventional cancer treatments. Find out from knowledgeable people (doctors, nurses, social workers, and counselors) what your options are. Discuss the potential benefits and risks for you, as indicated by reliable data. Information about supplemental therapy will allow you to maximize your resources toward healing.

How Do I Find Out about Supplemental Therapy?

You can learn more about visual imagery, biofeedback, relaxation, and meditation through self-help books and audiotapes or through consultation with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist trained in biofeedback and visualization. A good starting place for self-instruction is Lawrence LeShan’s How to Meditate, Herbert Benson’s The Relaxation Response, and Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization.

Information about special diets and vitamins can be obtained from the hospital’s nutrition counselor and the Cancer Information Service. Dozens of self-help books are available, but the safety and scientific validity of their regimens are extremely variable. If you decide to follow a special diet, be sure to discuss it with your oncologist first.

You can find out about a good exercise program by investigating your local hospital’s rehabilitation programs. Although cancer-specific rehabilitation programs are still scarce, you may fit in well with an established heart, lung, or arthritis rehab program, depending on your current physical condition. These same programs mi have instructors who can set up an individualized program that you can follow on your own, if you are well enough. Ask your oncologist or doctor whether he or she has some guidelines for an
exercise program.

There are many forms of counseling and support. Call the Cane Information Service to establish the various services available in your state. Find out the focus of each of the services and the fee, if any. Some groups function as a forum for the presentation of information, some stress peer support, and others are more psychoanalytically oriented. Individual counseling offers a diversity of approaches, from short-term, crisis-oriented counseling to length insight-oriented analysis. It is preferable to seek the services of someone well versed in cancer-related issues.

After you find out about the available resources, try a few that sound interesting. Support services and counseling are two areas where you can usually pick and choose. Select the best ones for you.

There are many places to find humor: funny movies, comic and joke books, comedy audiotapes, and stand-up comedy (live and televised).


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