My main practice “Integrated Naturopathic Oncology” is a private practice in San Luis Obispo, California. I see patients in Santa Barbara several times a month as well at Nest Integrative Medicine spa. I still have a small practice in Seattle and make trips there quarterly to see ongoing patients. I have relationships with medical oncologists in the areas I practice and teach educational classes on Integrative Oncology for patients and oncology practitioners.
How did you get into Naturopathic Oncology?
Before I decided to go to Bastyr, I was working with a Doctor of Oriental Medicine in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I managed her front desk and pharmacy. She saw many oncology patients and I filled their supplement prescriptions and prepared TCM raw herbal teas for them. I was drawn to the field where there was so much we could do to support this population of individuals who were dealing with this inherently challenging cancer diagnosis. I saw that oncology patients, when supported with integrative care, could thrive and have better outcomes and quality of life. It also felt personal to me; I was engaged by their stories, it is a heart centered, meaningful practice.
Knowing this, when I went though naturopathic school, I focused on oncology preceptorships when I could. I was so fortunate to work with the wonderful, insightful and supportive doctors when I first graduated, Dr. Mark Gignac and Dr. Paul Reilly. They helped me to understand the depth of the diagnosis and I am so grateful to them for starting me on this path.
A cancer diagnosis has a way of bringing a person right to the present moment. I respect and honor that moment for patients and all the modalities we can use to support them in their healing. There is always a challenge it seems in oncology. Always learning about new plants, drugs, mechanism, synergies, interactions, mind-body interventions and treatments. The research detective work is always intriguing. I enjoy this field because it includes, I am sure like most naturopathic physicians, so much of what we want to see in our evolving world. Making sound food and lifestyle choices that are sustainable and environmentally conscious, so down the road we can all be healthier…less carcinogens, more consciousness in the world.
What do you do on your down time and/or what do you do for fun?
I spend time with family, garden with herbs, vegetables and flowers, take care of our cattle dogs and chickens. We walk, bike, hike, stand up paddle board, dance, cook… I moved back to where I grew up 2 years ago and now I am blessed to walk in my father’s vineyard and taste the wine made from his hard work. I come from a family of farmers; if you are not growing something you are not living fully! I love food, recipes, cookbooks and finding new healthy gourmet things for my family, friends and patients to try. Yoga is with me everyday, most of the time it is a meditation in motion, mindfulness, moving everyday, bringing myself back to the present moment with the breath, the sunshine, the plants.
What are your “broken record statements” to your patients (i.e., what is that you tell your patients the most?)
“Let’s get at this in as many ways as we can, there are things we don’t have any control over, let’s focus on the things we do”
“Place your feet flat on the ground, roll your shoulders back, open chest and heart center: Inhale belly out, exhale belly in”
“Protein, Fiber and Healthy Fats”
“I see the body as a garden, we can choose what grows there by how we tend to it”