Dr. Francisco Contreras on the Vital Role of Faith in Fighting Cancer
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Sadly, cancer continues to kill more than 500,000 Americans every year. As doctors scramble to find the cure, more and more loved ones are succumbing to a disease that has simply become known as the C-word due to fear and the physical pain it inflicts.
Dr. Francisco Contreras has made it his life’s work to treat cancer patients in a compassionate and caring way. From a medical facility in Tijuana, Mexico, that his father founded in 1963, Dr. Contreras works tirelessly to solve the tragedy of cancer with his revolutionary Total Care Approach, a treatment that increases the one-year survival rate up to three times the U.S. average.
In his book, The Art and Science of Undermining Cancer, Dr. Contreras reveals how he combines traditional and alternative medical treatments with emotional and spiritual support to successfully fight cancer and keep it at bay.
I recently spoke to the distinguished oncologist about his approach to treating this life-altering disease, the role of faith in someone’s individual cancer journey, and new developments on the horizon in the fight to cure cancer.
What was the inspiration or the catalyst for writing The Art and Science of Undermining Cancer?
There is so much fear about cancer and most people when they hear the famous C-word, they believe that they've got a death sentence. So, the main purpose of this book is to let people know that cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. You can live with it for a long time. In many cases, you can reduce tumor activity and you can beat it in many cases. It all depends on whether you make the correct choices or not. My goal is to provide information so that people can make the right decisions about what therapy might work best for them. I expose all of the conventional and many of the non-conventional therapies and options that come with those therapies. I provide preventive tips and ideas, so that people that do not have cancer get tremendous benefit from it.
Cancer affects everyone in every family one way or another. I lost a sister-in-law to cancer last year. Why is this book a critical need to read for everyone?
Because as you said, everybody's affected in America. One out of every two men will develop cancer in their lifespan. One out of every three women will develop cancer in their life. So, it's something that's very real and is affecting us all. So, the more information we have, the better we can deal with this problem. Obviously, the best way to deal with it is by not getting it. Prevention is a major part of our book, but many of the preventative ideas that I provide in this book will also help cancer patients live better, longer, and tolerate therapy much better. Patients will obtain better results from their therapy.
In your book, you write about something called the “Total Care Approach”. What is that and how does it relate to treating cancer?
We have been trained as oncologists to treat tumors but basically we're only taking care of the physical needs of patients. I believe that a major part of the failure in treating cancer, the major reason for the failure is precisely that. So, what I mean by Total Care Approach is that cancer patients not only have physical needs. They also have emotional and spiritual needs. When you address those needs and provide resources at the three levels, mind, body, and spirit, then the results are going to be better. In our statistics we have been able to show that the reason why our numbers and our results are much better than just about any oncological center in the world is because we precisely take care of the emotional and spiritual needs.
Speaking of spiritual needs, what role can faith play in someone's individual cancer journey?
Well, you must take into account that fear is a stronghold of cancer, right? People live in fear saying the word. They just call it the C word. Why is there fear? It’s because people think it's a death sentence. Well, don't we all know that we're going to die? We're not going to be able to stay on this earth forever. That's a given. So, why is there fear? It’s because when somebody gives you a date, it changes everything. I know that I'm going to die, but wow, it's in six months or a year. That’s when the fear sets in. Usually the fear is because you don't know what's going to happen to you after you die, or you're not sure of what's going to happen to you after you die.
So, having spiritual fortitude means that you have the ticket to heaven in your pocket. It's yours. Here at Oasis of Hope, our mission is to present the person of Jesus Christ to everybody so that they will know for sure what's going to happen to them after the die. They're going to spend eternity in that place, where there will be no sorrow and no more pain. When people realize this, the fear goes away. What we want to do is set people up for miracles because a lot of times, and we've seen it many, many times, once a patient is not fearful of the outcome, it’s like they are not in prison anymore. Miracles happen. That's why I believe that spiritual fortitude is a major, major part of the healing process. And for us, it’s our mission to make sure that nobody leaves the Oasis of Hope without having the opportunity to accept Jesus as their savior.
As you just mentioned, your treatments go beyond just treating the physical presence of cancer. You care for the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Why this approach?
Because I believe very strongly that when you are spiritually strong, you can view victory in a very different way. Victory over cancer or over anything that happens to you in life is a decision that you make on the incident. So, you can be victorious over cancer, even if the tumor progresses. You can lose your battle against cancer even if the tumor goes away. So, we have patients that tell me, “Oh, doctor, I'm so glad to see my x-rays and that there's no tumor.” But they're all worried and distraught. And why are you worrying? Because you are tumor free? They say, “I don't know when it's coming back.” When this happens they're still victims of cancer. And yet we have other patients that would tell you, “Doctor, cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me because before this I was not able to appreciate all of the things that are around me, that are beautiful, and that God made for me. I was taking them for granted. And so, because of this cancer, now my eyes have been opened and I'm able to appreciate and be thankful for all of the things that God has done for me.” When you have that type of victory, you can be joyful and thank God for everything when you're spiritually strong. And again, once you are not afraid of a cancer, the outcome is going to be much, much better.
Changing gears Oasis of Hope Hospital has developed a very impressive track record in relation to treating Stage IV cancer cases. The five year survival rate nearly doubles the U.S. averages. What is happening at Oasis of Hope that is making a significant difference?
I believe that the significant difference is philosophical more than practical, even though it turns out to be practical. Cancer research is spending money, time and effort in destroying tumors. Our efforts go into saving patients. So, instead of just finding the tumor and fighting the tumor, we provide resources for our patients to heal themselves. There's nothing more powerful to heal you of anything than the immune system. About 70% of our efforts are for the patient and about 30% of the efforts are against the tumor. Whereas chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, all the new targeted therapies, a hundred percent of the efforts are against the tumor. Believe it or not, a patient that responds by having tumor reduction, even if he or she dies, it will go into the books as a success because the aim was to see what you could do to the tumor.
And so, we changed that dramatically here. For us, what's important is what happens to the patient. A lot of times we have patients that were told that they're going to die in six months or a year, and they're alive after 20 years. We take x-rays and the tumors are still there. So, that would be considered a failure because the tumors didn't go away, but I'd rather have a failure alive than a success with a patient dying. So, that is an enormous difference philosophically in how you approach cancer. I truly believe that because we provide our patients with spiritual and emotional support, this makes a tremendous difference. Not only the fact that we use many alternative therapies that are non-toxic and very effective, and that also plays a role. I believe very strongly that when a patient is spiritually strong, the outcomes are going to be much better.
Is there anything on the near horizon, in the pursuit to cure cancer that you're excited about?
Yes. There's a couple of things, especially with nanotechnology. Right now, we are developing a formula that I believe is going to make a tremendous change. It's a mild natural anti-tumor agent that’s going to be a potent anti-tumor agent without side effects. So that's one of the things that I believe that within the next year we will have available for our patients. The other thing is phototherapy, or light therapy. There are many publications that show exposure of tumors to certain types of light, laser, and other UV light, that you can destroy tumors without taking any drug, or without any side effects. So, those two things are on the horizon. We've already started a protocol, a clinical trial with modulated phototherapy. And I believe that it's going to make a big difference for cancer patients.
After people have read The Art & Science of Undermining Cancer, what would you like to see readers get out of that experience? What is your greatest hope for the book?
My greatest hope is that they know that cancer is beatable, that it's not a death sentence, and that they have options. After reading my book, I know that a patient is going to be making decisions, not out of fear or coercion by their oncologist, because that happens a lot. You know, if I don't give you the chemotherapy right now, instead of six months, you're going to die in three months. So, with knowledge, people will make more intelligent decisions for their own case, because everybody has different needs and beliefs. But once you have all the options open to you, then you can choose whatever is best for you.
To Purchase Dr. Francisco Contreras' Book The Art & Science of Undermining Cancer:
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