Alternative and Complementary Practices: Choices for Treatment

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Ella has been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and has been into remission but recently the cancer has returned and is now in the hospital. Ella’s condition leaves her family with tough decisions to be made on her behalf. Ella has voiced her wishes, but Ella’s family members may not agree with all of Ella’s choices due to their own experiences or their own beliefs. The caseworker assigned to the case is responsible for counseling the patient and family members on all the possible care that is available for Ella while she is battling cancer. Treatment Choices Ella is currently battling a disease and has a lot of choices to be made.

The choices that need to be made are not easy decisions and often can cause cultural and traditional issues within a family. The options Ella has must be considered and analyzed carefully by Ella, her family, and physician in order to ensure Ella is giving the best treatment and highest probability or healing or curing her breast cancer. Ella could decide to keep her current regimen and use alternative and complementary practices in addition to her Native American healing practices that she is currently using or change her mind and decide to abandon her current beliefs and use traditional medical practices in order to treat her condition.

The decision to abandon her current beliefs may cause tension between her and her husband because of his Native American cultural background, but if Ella decides to follow mainstream medical advice and use traditional medicine she may have a higher chance at curing the cancer and living a longer healthier life. Alternative and Complementary Practices Ella’s has been treating her breast cancer with alternative medicine already and has some success through those natural means, but now she is in remission. Complementary and alternative means of treatment are products, practices, and systems that are not considered Running Head: Social Worker 3 mainstream medicine.

These methods can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life while undergoing cancer treatment (American Cancer Society, 2014). Some benefits that complementary and alternative medicines provide are they relieve some side effects from cancer treatment, they do not have as many unpleasant side effects as mainstream medicine and it allows the patient to be more involved and active in their own health care practices (American Cancer Society, 2014).

These alternative methods are not proven to cure cancer, but can help the patient feel better while being treated. While complementary and alternative methods have their positive attributes, they also have some negative aspects as well. When practicing alternative methods it is important that the health care physician is aware of the practices that are being used and approve them before starting a complementary or alternative practice. Some of the complementary practices can prevent conventional treatments from working as well as they should.

It’s important to remember that the final decision of care whether it be complementary and alternative, or conventional treatment is up the patient. Herbal Medicine One of Ella’s choices is herbal medicine. Herbal medicine is the use of plants and mixtures or plant extracts in order to treat and illness and promotes good health. Most herbal medicines can be bought over the counter, and have some evidence that they help prevent and relieve some ailments and symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment (Cancer Research UK, 2014).

When choosing herbal products it is important to ensure that they are registered with the Traditional Herbal Remedies scheme, because they have been tested for quality and safety. Herbal products are still considered medicine and can still cause side effects and lower the effectiveness with traditional cancer treatments. Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutrients Running Head: Social Worker 4 All people need the proper amount of nutrients to ensure that their bodies are working properly. These nutrients come from various vitamins, minerals, essential fats and amino acids. Most can make sure that they receive the right amount of nutrients by having a balanced diet.

Those that are being treated for cancer may have a hard time eating or their bodies may not be absorbing and using the nutrients properly and may need to take various supplements to make sure that their body continue to have the correct amount of nutrients and function properly. While receiving cancer treatment physicians check levels of nutrients on a regular basic and may prescribe dietary supplements in order to ensure that nutrient levels stay at a healthy level. These supplements can be taken by mouth or through injections.

This method of alternative and complementary method may help to make a patient feel better while going through conventional treatment, but using this method alone could be harmful for health and reduce the chance of controlling or curing cancer (Cancer Research UK, 2014). Metabolic Therapy and Alternative Diets A combination of special diets, enzymes, and nutritional supplements in order to remove harmful substances from the body and strengthen the body’s resistance to illness is a method knows as metabolic therapy.

There are several treatments to choose from so it is important to consult a physician before decided which therapy is best for the patient in order to detoxify the patient’s body. (Cancer Research UK, 2014).

These methods can be restrictive and strict and may cause the patient not to be able to keep the right balance of nutrients to keep their body healthy. These methods can also cause serious risks if traditional cancer treatments are already weakening the patient’s nutrients. In monitored trials this method has proven to kill cancer cells in some patients (Cancer Research UK, 2014). Running Head: Social Worker 5 Native American Healing Native American healing uses religion, spirituality, herbal medicine, and rituals in order to treat patients with medical and emotional conditions (American Cancer Society, 2008).

There is no scientific evidence that proves that Native American healing can cure cancer, but evidence does show that it can improve physical, emotional, and the spiritual state of a patient. Native American’s believe that healing a person goes beyond curing a disease but they are aiming to “make whole” by resorting well-being and harmonious relationships with the community and spirit of nature (American Cancer Society, 2008). Like all other complementary or alternative methods, Native American healing should be discussed with the patient’s physician. Traditional Treatment Treatment for cancer has rapidly advanced in recent years.

Where there used to be only a few options for treatment there are an array of choices to battle cancer. Ella and her family have several mainstream medical options for her treatment. Chemotherapy Chemotherapy uses medicine in order to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is known as a systemic therapy because it not only affects one area of the body, but the whole body because it runs through the blood stream. Ella has breast cancer, so in her case there will most likely be a combination of two or more medicines used. Chemotherapy side effects depend on the type of chemotherapy that a patient is being treated with.

Common side effects are loss of hair, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and weight changes (breastcancer. org, 2014). Surgery Surgery is often the first line of attack on breast cancer. The two most common surgeries are lumpectomy and mastectomy. Lumpectomy only removes a small amount of tissue and the Running Head: Social Worker 6 tumor causing the cancer. A mastectomy is the removal of all breast tissue. The decision should be discussed with a physician and family members. The stage of cancer may be the deciding factor for which surgery would be most beneficial to the patient (breastcancer. org). Effects of Family.

The diagnosis of any disease can be overwhelming not only for the patient, but also for family members. Ella’s family members most likely have different feelings and emotions about her diagnosis and each family member will cope with it differently with the diagnosis Ella has received. It is not only important for a patient to deal with their emotions, but family members as well. Sam- Alcoholic Sam is Ella’s son; making him part of her micro system because he is her immediate family, and he is described as an alcoholic that is divorced, has an estranged son, and has not been able to keep a job for years.

Ella’s diagnosis of breast cancer could affect Sam and his alcoholism. Sam most likely drinks heavily already, due to all the adverse circumstances in his life. Sam’s alcoholism may make it harder for him to cope with his mother’s illness and cause him to self medicate and treat the emotions he may have with drinking more. Lila- Diabetes Lila is Ella’s 45 year old daughter, also making her part of Ella’s micro system, that has diabetes and struggles with her weight. The diagnosis of her mother could affect her in several different ways. Lila may stop concentrating on her own illness and shift her concern to her mother and forget to check her blood sugar or to stay on a balanced diet, worsening her own condition.

Running Head: Social Worker 7 Josh- Drug Problems Josh is Ella’s 17 year old grandson, making him part of her mezzo system because he is extended family, that has started sneaking away with friends and smoking pot. Josh could be turning to drugs in order to cope with his grandmother’s illness. The acknowledgement of illness and disease is hard for an adult to cope with, but for a teenager that is just learning how to handle adult situations responsibly can be exceptionally hard. Lucy – Bipolar and Drug Problems Ella’s Granddaughter, Lucy; also part of the mezzo system, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has a substance abuse problem.

Bipolar disease or manic-depression disorder causes frequent shifts in moods. Ella’s diagnosis of breast cancer could affect Lucy’s moods and make it harder for her to control the rapid changes, which in turn would cause her to feel she needs to self-medicate with drugs. Sarah- Stress Related Medical Issues Ella’s daughter in law is Sarah. Sarah has three children, Lucy, Josh, and Abe. The oldest two have substance abuse problems and the youngest has started to act out recently.

As a mother, Sarah is most likely worried about her children and is now concerned with her mother in law’s recent diagnosis of breast cancer which ultimately adds to the stress she is already feeling. These factors can cause her stress to escalate and cause medical problems for Sarah as well. Community Views The community falls under the macro system because it is a larger scale of influence. The community or environment that Ella is exposed to could affect her decision on treatment.

People in her community may be supportive of her illness and not pass judgment and be helpful in ensuring that Ella has the care that is needed. The wider community of people that may not know Running Head: Social Worker 8 what is going on in Ella’s life may pass judgment if Ella decides to use traditional medicine in order to treat her breast cancer.

Some may not understand the side effects that cancer treatment or surgery causes and feel sorry for her or make her feel bad about herself. This could be a reason that Ella would decide to stay in the hospital during her treatment, rather than complete treatment in the home. In closing, Ella and her family have some major decisions to make when it comes to her treatment.

She must decide whether or not to abandon her current treatment, Native American healing, complementary and alternative medicine, or choose to switch to traditional medicine through physicians. Ella’s family and outside community have an impact on her treatment and the choices that she decides to make as the patient. Ella and her family should be able to make a better decision on her treatment after her social worker laid out all her options and giving her professional advice. Running Head: Social Worker 9.

References American Cancer Society. (2014). What are Complementary and Alternative Methods? Retrieved from http://www. cancer. org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternative medicine/complementaryandalternativemethodsandcancer/complementary-and- alternative-methods-and-cancer-what-are-cam American Cancer Society. (2008).

Native American Healing. Retrieved from http://www. cancer. org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternative medicine/mindbodyandspirit/native-american-healing Breastcancer. org. (2014). Chemotherapy. Retrieved from http://www. breastcancer. org/treatment/chemotherapy Cancer Research UK. (2014). The Safety of Herbal Products and Medicines.

Retrieved from http://www. cancerresearchuk. org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative/about/harm/the-safety-of-herbal-products- and-medicines Cancer Research UK. (2014).

The Safety of Vitamins and Diet Supplements. Retrieved from http://www. cancerresearchuk. org/about-cancer/cancers-in- general/treatment/complementary-alternative/about/harm/the-safety-of-vitamins-and-diet- supplements Cancer Research UK. (2014). The Safety of Metabolic Therapy and Alternative Diets. Retrieved from Running Head: Social Worker 10 http://www. cancerresearchuk. org/about-cancer/cancers-in- general/treatment/complementary-alternative/about/harm/the-safety-of-vitamins-and-diet- supplements.

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