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Cancer patients & survivors can feel better and live longer using powerful strategies. As a 19 year brain tumor survivor, explore how I help as a Cancer Coach, consultant & speaker.

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Home  /  Integrative Cancer Care  /  Why Integrative Whole Person Strategies?

Why Integrative Whole Person Strategies?

By Jeannine Walston

Why focus on the whole person in cancer?

Cancer is often a symptom of an altered, unbalanced system. Integrative cancer care addresses more than the cancer diagnosis and a collection of symptoms. Comprehensive disease-fighting and wellness-promoting strategies address the entire physical body and whole person.

The body can be one whole integrated system. The state of the physical body has an interdependent relationship with all aspects of the individual, including the internal terrain and milieu. Health, and lack thereof, is a reflection of the internal and external environment of the whole person. This broader understanding of well-being conveys that health is more than absence of disease.

What are other ways to understand the entire physical body instead of the disease in isolation?

These fascinating findings from many years ago are timeless with critical points for each person.

1889—Stephen Paget, MD in the journal The Lancet published an article conveying that cancer only grows in fertile soil, or a hospitable environment in the body for the diseased cells. He wrote, “When plant goes to seed, its seeds are carried in all directions, but they can only live and grow if they fall on congenial soil.”

1895—Louis Pasteur said on his deathbed, “The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything.” The terrain refers to the internal environment influencing health. His statement represents a significant change in thinking for the father of the theory that germs (small organisms in the body) cause disease.

Understanding this reality provides an intelligent framework, and motivation with self-awareness, self-attention, and self-care strategies to support optimal health and healing.

How can I better understand my whole person?

The whole person is comprised of body, mind, and spirit, including social and environmental health. All of these parts create your whole. That includes your entire physical body, lifestyle choices, self-care routines, emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions, behaviors, ego, religion, spirituality, home, family, friends, work, activities, soul, soul’s purpose, soul’s presence, soul’s activation, culture, government, socioeconomics, and many other integrative cancer care factors.

In your journey, focus on your whole—the totality of who you are.

How do whole systems influence health and healing?

“The human body is more than a collection of individual parts; it is a whole network system of multiple, interacting parts including molecules, cells and organs that interacts with persons, environments, and a transcendent other(s). The whole system is an indivisible, self-organizing whole that cannot be taken apart. For true patient-centered clinical care and research, the dynamics of the individual and the function of the body in relation to other systems must be the focus of healing, as opposed to the static state of only one component part. This view of healing deviates from the traditional conceptualization of treatment that characterizes western medicine. Within the western medical framework it is impossible to predict the properties of a whole system and therefore how to assess or alter those properties, as the relationships between parts are complex, non-linear, and interactive… Given that all parts of the whole system are intimately linked and inseparable, it follows that if something on one level of the system changes, all levels or parts of the system are affected to one degree or another.”
-Iris Bell, MD, PhD

How can I better embrace and embody specific dimensions of the whole person for cancer patients and cancer survivors?

The journey over time involves education about the whole person to embrace and embody specific dimensions. The foundation can be positively transformed from integrative cancer care, addressing five major components to improve quality of life, cancer survival, and cancer prevention.


Research shows that the internal physical terrain turns cancer cells on and off. A healthy internal environment in the body kills cancer and cultivates wellness. Cancer care must expand beyond the cancer diagnosis to the whole body. Integrative cancer care addresses the cancer diagnosis, the entire physical body, and the whole person. Learn about how to address the physical disease and all components impacting the entire physical body in people with cancer.


The state of the mind and emotions impact health through the mind-body connection. “Mind does not dominate body, it becomes body— body and mind are one,” according to scientist Candace Pert, PhD. Since emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions, behavior, and the ego impact and literally shape aspects of biological functioning, studies indicate that mind-body vitality strengthens the mental and emotional inner life supporting optimal health and healing. Empower yourself with information and practices about mind body healing.


Most people understand that they are connected to something larger than themselves and engage some form of contact with spirit. We are whole when our spirit is fully united with our body. Studies indicate that spiritual well-being improves quality of life in people with cancer. Spirituality healing also further treats the entire physical body and whole person. Explore perspectives, questions, strategies, and resources related to spirituality.


When cancer is in the picture, new perceptions and social experiences emerge. People dealing with cancer—patients, family members, friends—endure many social challenges and opportunities. Learn about social issues people affected by cancer encounter with themselves, other people, and society as a whole. Explore social strategies toward better support through one’s self, others, and community when dealing with cancer.


Today’s world contains high levels of environmental carcinogens. The National Cancer Institute even mentions studies from over fifty decades concluding that the majority of cancers could be prevented by acting on what was known about the environmental causes of cancer. Each person must take steps to safeguard against toxic chemicals and treat them. Addressing the link between cancer and the environment is central for cancer risk factors reduction and anyone already with cancer. Learn the facts and specifics about supporting health through environmentally safe lifestyle choices.


Addressing whole person cancer care can provide important benefits. Feel free to further explore information here, and if you’d like help in your journey, learn about a Cancer Coach.