Talking Holistic Cancer Care in Singapore

Cancer Awakens has been a pioneer in the field of holistic cancer care since 2010. As part of our advocacy efforts, we have been reaching out to people in India and around the world. So far, our efforts have been mostly online. But in Sept 2018, our team (Vijay Bhat & Anamika Chakravarty) visited Singapore for a series of talks and workshops about holistic cancer care, how it works, and why it is important.

Cancer: a battle or a journey?

“I will fight the Big C at every step of the way”, you read a celebrity say. Or you may hear about a colleague braving cancer. But that person seemed perfectly fine, so how could this happen, you wonder. Perhaps a relative of yours just lost the battle to cancer.

Most people see cancer as a battle to be fought, or an enemy to be conquered. The over-riding emotions are fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Naturally, this mindset reflects in our language too.

  • We use words like “fight the Big C, overcoming cancer, internal terrorist, the civil war inside our cells, etc.”. This screams loud and clear that cancer is the enemy.
  • This positions cancer loudly and clearly as “the enemy” and we focus on “defeating the enemy.
  • As a result, we give top priority to the physical aspects of the disease and the clinical/ medical treatments.
  • But what about the non-medical aspects, i.e. the ‘human’ dimensions of the suffering that cancer causes?

When the doctors treat the disease, who heals the person?

If we tale the ‘full person’ into account, obviously, we need to go beyond only the physical, and address ALL aspects of that person. In short, there is a crying need for holistic cancer care.

Holistic cancer care complements mainstream treatments

Cancer Awakens’ mission is to fill a gaping in the cancer-care ecosystem. We help patients and families to

  • Accept and embrace the illness and uncover the underlying Stressors that may compromise their immunity
  • Take charge of their own healing via a structured, holistic & integrated approach, based upon sound science
  • Handle different stages of the cancer journey – from prevention, to recovery and rehabilitation, to palliative care.
  • We train and certify Cancer coaches (SHERPAs) to provide this service and spread this message of holistic cancer care.

Taking the holistic cancer care message to Singapore

Here are some highlights of our hectic and fruitful 10-day trip:

1. Meeting with holistic health practitioners

Thanks to Vinay Rai, we met up with various practitioners: a dance/movement therapist, a family therapist, a naturopath and diabetes specialist, and a breast cancer  survivor who volunteers for a support group. We discussed how the different approaches and therapies can complement each other in healing from cancer. The conversations were very helpful for us to understand the opportunities and challenges in the Singapore market.

2. Meetings with potential partners and stakeholders

We are grateful to K.V. Rao for introducing us to some well-connected people who have a deep interest in supporting innovative projects in the cancer-care space.

Similarly, Yen-lu Chow introduced us the Arumugam Sivakumar, a certified naturopathic doctor and the founder of ‘Medi Therapie‘, a reputed Healing Centre that has a good track record with cancer patients.

Separately, we also caught up with our good friend Aparna Mittal of Patients Engage. Lots of collaboration opportunities with her!

3. Thriver & Sherpa Programs

We did a 90-minute session on ‘How to become a Cancer Thriver‘ for the Indian Women’s Association in Singapore. Padmaja Balaji coordinated it beautifully. The session was highly interactive and very well received by all. In this session, Vijay narrated his personal journey and shared his learnings about why holistic cancer care is so important.

Additionally, Vijay was interviewed by Neeta & Ujjal Bajaj of EDOOISM, an education-based Youtube Channel. The discussion focused on: the selection criteria to become a cancer-coach and as the critical caregiver role in healing.

4. Stress to Swaasthya: Holistic cancer care supports Prevention too

Stress compromises immunity and this is one of the key triggers for cancer (and other illnesses). Hence, minimising one’s Stressors is critical to both prevent and recover from cancer. We presented the ‘Stress to Swaasthya’ message in 2 formats

  • Free 90-minute introductory talks for small groups and corporates
  • 1-day workshop for the leadership team of a multi-national media organisation

In both cases, the sessions covered:

  • Key principles of Stress & Wellbeing
  • Inventory to assess your own ‘Stressors’: physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual.
  • Learning a simple, powerful ‘Presence’ practice for daily use … and specially when you face turbulence.

We returned to Mumbai, feeling gratified. The idea of holistic cancer care and wellbeing clearly touches a chord across countries and cultures. This only spurs us on to take this message to more and more people around the world.

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