What is Naturopathic Oncology?

As the field of complimentary medicine expands, more people are familiar with Naturopathic medicine. But lesser known is the field of Naturopathic oncology, which is the application of Naturopathic medicine to the field of cancer care. Lifestyle changes, nutrition, herbal medicine, vitamins, homeopathy, physical medicine and counseling are all utilized by Naturopathic physicians in assisting cancer patients to live longer and healthier lives. Regardless of the type or the staging of cancer, Naturopathic medicine has the ability to improve outcomes.

At Vashon Natural Medicine we work in conjunction with our patients and their oncologists to help minimize symptoms from cancer treatment, enhance the effectiveness of treatment, increase survival rates, and improve quality of life. We are lucky to live in an area of the country with excellent oncologists, including Cancer Treatment Centers of America, but for our rural medical office, it is wonderful to have advanced training to assist cancer patients in their journey for health.

In 2004 a group of dedicated Naturopathic physicians established the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Inc (OncANP). They initiated a credentialing process for NDs who specialized in oncology, and a separate and independent board, the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (ABNO) was established to oversee the process of Fellow status. The goal of OncANP is to advance the philosophy, science and practice of Naturopathic oncology.

Through OncANP and continued training, physicians at Vashon Natural Medicine provide cutting edge treatment for our cancer patients. Naturopathic oncologists across the US work both in hospital oncology settings and in private practice, bringing their wisdom, perspective and experience to aid oncology treatment teams that seek the best positive outcomes for their patients. To find an OncANP trained Naturopathic physician in your area, the OncANP Directory can help you find the right doctor for you.

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Suicide Prevention and UW Forefront

Since 2007, Vashon Island has had an unfortunate increase in suicides for our population density, compared to the rest of King County. As a primary care office on a small island only accessible by ferry, both our practitioners and patients have been affected by these deaths in one way or another. 

In an effort to help them navigate the incredible grief that we have all faced, and to try to prevent further tragedies in our community, Vashon Natural Medicine wanted to do more. Our office was fortunate enough to host a training for health care professionals by the University of Washington this last winter on Suicide Prevention. The UW has a group that provides these trainings called Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention.

The trainings are designed for professionals who are working with persons at risk of suicide, to help "accept the client’s suffering while simultaneously conveying a commitment of healing and hope". It was a very successful training with 18 providers in attendance, and we were all very impressed with the new knowledge and skills we were able to take with us. We gained knowledge as individual practitioners, and the ability to refer to each other as professionals to support our patients as needed. 

Having grown up on Vashon, I remember the challenges of feeling like an isolated teenager, and as a health care professional I understand the lack of resources we face to reach those with mental health challenges. And knowing the victims and survivors of suicide, I understand how hard it can sometimes be to prevent. The most important thing that anyone can do, is to simply ask someone you are concerned about. Ask, and listen. The simple act of caring through communication cannot be underestimated when trying to prevent a needless tragedy like suicide.

Forefront is an amazing organization that works with communities across Washington. They work to educate, and even to help create legislation to further protect those with depression from harming themselves before they can get help. For more information on their efforts, please visit their web site: www.intheforefront.org

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