The raw data are stark. 40% of US adults in a recent poll believe that “cancer can be solely cured through alternative remedies.” Of young people aged 18-35, the percentage pushes up to nearly half, at 47%. Remarkably, 38% of family members and other caregivers to people with cancer agree. And 22% of cancer survivors do. These beliefs – a shocking contrast to a 2017 study that found that choosing alternatives increases risk of death 2.5 times – are a central reason that the cancer establishment needs integrative and naturopathic oncologists.
“Bonnie was one of integrative medicine’s grand behind the scenes ‘manifestors’ – she created the platforms for others to manifest their work.” Lori Knutson, RN, was reflecting on her close colleague Bonnie Horrigan who died November 4, 2018 of breast cancer. Horrigan was 68. Through founding one of the first peer review journals in the field in 1996, publicizing integrative medicine in a series of reports for the Bravewell Collaborative and more recently connecting her colleagues at the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health through their newsletter, this characterization of Horrigan’s contributions rings continuously through the last quarter century.
The principle of using the least invasive methods first – a corollary of “first do no harm” – is central to integrative health and medicine. Also core is the idea of patient-centered, functionally-oriented outcomes. Each of these principles is being chucked out the window as the FDA is systematically removing multiple natural agents from an approved list for compounding pharmacists.
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.