Becoming your Health Advocate

Posted December 21st, 2011 in Cancer, Cancer Prevention Strategies, Cancer Surgery by Rebecca Lane

Helen and I have just started helping a client recently diagnosed with cancer. We wanted to outline the steps that we take as we go, so that everyone has access to the information.

The most important thing to do is to go online and do some preliminary research about your cancer, so that you understand what’s going on in your body and can formulate questions for when you next see your doctor. My go-to place is and in the search box, I type in Protocol for … Cancer. Usually I get lots of information. Print it out and put it aside.

Next, pick up a 2 or 3″ binder and many tabs to go inside it. This will become your Wellness Binder and it’s where you’ll keep everything you’ll need to reference along your journey. You’ll put your preliminary research here (okay, you can put it in the binder now), information about diets, supplements, lifestyle changes, detoxification strategies, contact information about your cancer care team, questions that come up between appointments and whatever else you can think of.

The article below is the next piece that you’ll add to your binder. You’ll find it a valuable tool for helping you to keep track of your health care (especially when visiting the hospital).

by Karen Garloch, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.
  1. Expect mistakes and have an advocate with you in the hospital.
  2. Check every medicine. Make sure the dose is right. If you don’t know the correct dose – ASK.
  3. Be assertive. “Being nice can get you killed.”
  4. When in doubt, “say No.” Demand an explanation.
  5. Be vigilant during transitions, from one floor to another, or when shifts change.
  6. Alert the nurse or “rapid response team,” if something seems wrong.
  7. When discharged from the hospital, get detailed instructions and contact information. Know what symptoms might signal a worsening situation or infection.
  8. Hospital doctors may never speak to your primary care physician. Take your records and don’t assume doctors already know what’s in them.
  9. Double-check everything. Don’t assume no news is good news or that test results are always correct. Get copies of lab results in a timely fashion. If something seems wrong, request a repeat.
  10. Take a friend or family member to doctor’s visits. Nearly every error made in the hospital can also be made in the outpatient setting. A second pair of eyes and ears can be very useful in getting instructions and spotting problems.
  • Take a list of your top health concerns/symptoms.
  • Ask your doctor for a recap to make sure you’ve been heard.
  • Take notes or record the conversation so you can remember.
  • Carry a list of all your medicines and supplements.
  • Find out about the most common and serious side effects your medicines may cause (a great resource for chemotherapy drug information is
  • Ask the doctor how confident he is about your diagnosis. Find out what else could be causing your symptoms.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Ask health care providers to wash their hands before they examine you.
  • Keep track of your progress: Keep a diary of relevant measurements such as weight, blood pressure, blood sugar.
  • Be vigilant when moving from one health care setting to another. Mistakes and oversights are especially common during transitions.
  • Ask how to get in touch with health care providers. Get phone numbers or email addresses, and learn when to report problems.
(c)2011 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.
I realize these lists make it seem like the medical establishment is out to get you. That  isn’t the case at all. Most medical staff really care about your health and well-being. But in a hospital there are so many people working with you that important pieces of information can be lost in the shuffle.
You are the only one who can be responsible for yourself. And for keeping track of all of the information you need to return to health.
Be your own advocate. Make sure that your needs are met however uncomfortable it makes you feel to ask for clarification. Studies have found that the patient who refuses to take NO for an answer is the one most likely to get better (see #3 above).

Cancer care in Brantford, Ontario

Posted December 20th, 2011 in Cancer, Cancer Prevention Strategies by Rebecca Lane

This afternoon I received a request for information about alternative cancer care treatment options in Brantford, ON. I put the call out to all of my online contacts and this is what we have found out to this point. I’m posting it here so that anyone else looking for this help will be able to access it. Thanks to Lee Overton for providing most of this research here!

  1. Nutritionist – Julie Daniluk of the Big Carrot recommended
    Irene Yaychuk-Arabei, DNM
    Brantford, ON
    (519) 752-7373
  2. One of the only Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practioners in Brantford is Monica Wecklein.  She’s wonderful and very effective. She recently opened up her own place at her home (converted her garage to a wellness spa equipped with a Hydro Therapy tub).  She also trained in natural therapies and consulted clients for 10 years in Ottawa before moving to Brantford and becoming a TCM practioner.  She also holds a degree in Psychology. Monica Wecklein
    48 Tutela Heights Rd.
    Brantford, ON N3T 1A1
    519 752-0305
  3. Chiropractic
    Harmony Chiropractic recently hired a holistic nutritionist.  I haven’t heard of any others so far or tried this one. However, we have experienced their chiropractic services (Sublaxation) which is the same as the typical Chiropractor treatments. They understand overall wellness and seem to be building their business to support this.
    124 Charing Cross St
    Brantford, ON N3R 2J1
    (519) 756-1303
  4. Kathleen Gorden is a very experienced yoga teacher who has started a Restorative yoga in her home studio.  I was very happy to see this as it’s hard to find Restorative yoga in Brantford. If you are not familar with Restorative yoga it’s very healing and and a form of gentle exercise. She’s had lots of experience with people living with Cancer.  She is also does wonderful meditationwhich is so healing.  She does private classes too and is very
  5. Naturopaths
    As far as Naturopaths go I’m currently in transition.  Amy Tweedle my former one moved so I’m meeting a new one in Cambridge this week.  Dr. Reid is his name and I’ve heard great things about him and the centre.  He partners and consults with an MD so they can do all kinds of tests that regular Naturopaths can’t.   They also work with a compounding pharmacy which is sweet and hard to find. They also have a nutritionist on staff.There is also Holistic Healing Arts. Dr. Alfred Hauk the owner would be the one I’d explore as some of the others are pretty fresh out of school He’s got a pre-med background from Germany and has been doing this for a long time.  We’re also investigating Complimentary Healing Arts (a.k.a The Anello Clinic).  They do have a waiting list but that might be waived in a cancer situation.
    401 Laurel Street,
    Cambridge (Preston), ON
    N3H 3Y7
    519 653 3731The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors also has this listing available of ND’s in Brantford, but no information about their areas of specialty:
  6. Acupuncture – Ryan Ess suggests Dr. Tom McChesney who is located in Ancaster nearby. He does Contemporary Medical Acupuncture.
  7. For supplements try Tip Top Health Shop (Colborne and Clarence) or S&H Health Store (in the Galaxy Cinema plaza) as they are the more inexpensive options.  Both will order things in.

This is not a complete list and as we find more treatment options available to people in Brantford, ON we will post them here. Turning Point Nutrition has not worked with any of these therapists but has worked with the people who provided their names to us.

We hope that they can serve you well.

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