I have covered developments of the Society for Integrative Oncology over the 19 years since the organization placed its flag squarely in the emerging, evidence-based integrative medicine era. Many of its accomplishments have been remarkable for the broader integrative medicine field. SIO has had success in creating guidelines that have been endorsed by conventional oncology organizations. Internally, the organization has, since its beginning, fostered an interprofessional environment that has, for instance, included naturopathic physicians in the presidency and leading its marquis integrative breast cancer guideline initiative. I’d never attended their conference until this year when I was one of 380 souls at the October 27-29, 2019 conference in Phoenix. Here are some impressions. Credit the 19th century composer Mussorgsky for the title.
Organizations connected to two of the most significant researchers in the movement for integrative health and healing, Brian Berman, MD and Wayne Jonas, MD, held separate events recently to announce reports that offer insight into patients’ experience of health and healing. Samueli Integrative Health Programs, which Jonas directs, examined patient views of health in the context of their relationships with their primary care doctors. Berman’s Institute for Health and Healing – in collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine – dove deeply into selected patients’ perceptions of what their “healing journey” to develop a model. Both examinations highlight processes not typically part of the clinical encounter. Outcomes illuminate potential characteristics of a system focused on health creation.
“Earl Bakken was a man and a legend.” So wrote integrative medicine philanthropist Penny George in a e-note following news that the founder of the now $27-billion Medtronic had died at 94 in his home on his beloved island of Hawaii. “Earl is also a testament to integrative care. He accumulated a number of serious health problems with which most people would not have lived that long. But he combined the benefit of the devices his company created with acupuncture and massage and a great diet and the power of meaning and purpose to live as long and as healthy a life as one could imagine.”
First, a familial confession. I recall at sitting at my parents home in the waning hippy era of mid-1970s when a close friend of my elder siblings who had strong back-to-the-land inclinations faced a grilling about her life plans at our pressurized family table. Education? Employment? Contributions to community? The friend must have known she was thumbing her nose at her interrogators when she shared her counter-cultural goal: “I just want to be happy.”