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Guiding Patients Through All Stages of The Cancer Journey: The Final Chapter


Over many decades I have created and honed my OutSmart Cancer® System so that patients have a Health Plan not just a disease plan as well as the tools and knowledge to Create A Body Where Cancer Cannot Thrive.



My OutSmart Cancer® System includes addressing the unique needs and challenges of five major stages of the Cancer Journey. 

  • Just Diagnosed/Shock, Overwhelm, Acceptance/Preparation
  • In Treatment/Staying Healthy/Managing Side Effects/Quality of Life
  • After Treatment/Recovery/Restoration/Rejuvenation
  • Life Beyond Cancer/Remission/Cure/No Evidence of Disease
  • Living with Cancer As a Chronic Illness/Living Well, Managing Side    Effects/Quality of Life

There is indeed a Sixth Stage. Some patients will die while under our care. 

We must support them, or refer appropriately so that they can accept that they are facing End of Life and that the cancer is stronger and smarter than the treatments we have available and that it is time to prepare on all levels and in all ways for the dying process and the final exhale.

It is always difficult to begin the conversation, but it is essential that at least ONE of the patient’s care providers be comfortable with a very frank and real and compassionate conversation with the patient, their family and circle of care of what MAY lie ahead.

It is our role to be available for this process and dialogue or to refer appropriately to clinicians who will address their questions and concerns and make sure they have the resources for a peaceful, healing, comfortable and compassionate dying process and final exhale.  If you are not comfortable or trained to do so, please explicitly tell the patient you will refer them to a clinician who can do so.  Make sure you have trusted resources in your community for them.

It is shocking to me HOW MANY oncologists do not have this conversation until the patient is perhaps not even capable of planning for themselves and their loved ones.

It is my personal and professional belief that every person deserves to know what is happening to them and what to expect and that they may indeed be facing their mortality.  But before that final breath, there is a potential to create a healing and integrative journey and a plan for a peaceful and conscious dying process.  

I am thinking now of one particular patient whom I treated for many years for extremely aggressive and recurrent fallopian tube cancer

She engaged fully in an integrative approach including OutSmart Cancer diet, lifestyle, supplements, acupuncture, high dose IV Vitamin C and mistletoe therapies. Her very forward thinking and collaborative oncologist offered her many many options, but her cells became resistant quickly after only a month or two of treatment with each try. Eventually she developed malignant ascites, a dire prognostic sign. 

Finally her care providers’ and the patient’s collective decision was to have her enter into compassionate hospice care. The patient accepted this decision with grace as I had started talking with her about her treatment resistance, the aggressive nature of her cancer and what it means prognostically when malignant ascites develops and progresses.  She was well aware that she could die of this cancer with this presentation and history.  I knew that she had not properly prepared fully for her children and that she would have to entangle her business and plan for that transition as well.   And it was time for her to accept and begin to reflect and ponder the end of life and death and dying.   We talked frankly and explicitly about the need to prepare practically, emotionally and spiritually.   

Although she accepted her death, she stated that she was fearful.  She was in a lot of pain which gave her the most anxiety.   This is true of many patients, it is the pain, suffering and anxiety and not having any familiarity with the dying process that makes them most uncomfortable.

Because I made sure she had lead time, she prepared legally, financially and practically for herself and her children.  I encouraged her to work with a therapist to help her to talk with her children.   But she really did not have the tools or the inner development to meet the dying process, contemplate it and find a way to dissipate her fear and have a peaceful transition.

My last conversations with her were about this very process, what to expect, how to plan a peaceful process, how to create the environment and support she wanted to have and to reassure her that hospice physicians and nurses are exceptionally thoughtful and compassionate and attuned human beings who would keep her comfortable, manage her pain and let her know what was unfolding at every step of the way.

Although her oncologist ordered hospice care for her, these most important conversations were not included.   

In person-centered models of medicine, it is the RELATIONSHIP between the patient and the doctor….two tender human beings that matters most at the end.   

I encourage all of you to step into these conversations with your patients.  The only way to become comfortable with them is to practice practice practice.   Start by contemplating your own death and you will find your way.

And so I have realized that there is indeed a Sixth Stage of the Cancer Journey in my OutSmart Cancer® System for some patients and that is the acceptance and conscious, compassionate and potentially healing and transformational journey to the End of Life.

Books I recommend for Patients and Families:

A Beginner’s Guide to The End, Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, BJ Miller 

The Art of Dying Well, A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life, Katy Butler