About the Healing Circle
Healing Circles at Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io are sacred conversational platforms. The sole purpose of Healing Circles is to give a safe space for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and other relevant individuals to share their feelings and experiences. These Healing Circles come with zero judgment. They are a platform for individuals to rediscover their purpose in life and achieve motivation and support for attaining happiness and positivity. Cancer treatment is an overwhelming and daunting process for the patient, family and caregivers involved. At these Healing Circles, we give individuals space for sharing their stories and feel at ease about it. Moreover, Healing Circles are based on different topics to help individuals reflect on elements like positivity, mindfulness, meditation, medical treatment, therapies, optimism, etc.
About the Speaker
Dr Sarat Addanki is the Founder and Director of Ayurway, an ayurvedic doctor from the California College of Ayurveda, and an ex-caregiver to his mother, whom he lost to breast cancer. He did his Bachelor's in Computer Science and Engineering from Osmania University and has 25 years of experience as a software executive. Deeply distressed after losing his mother to breast cancer, he involved himself in Ayurveda and understood how it could benefit patients and help them overcome pain. At Ayurway, Dr Addanki focuses on creating awareness about various natural healing processes through Ayurveda, Western Herbology, Panchakarma, Aroma Therapy, Mental Imagery, Music Therapy and bringing in a new perspective towards cancer prevention and cure.
Dr Sarat Addanki shares his journey
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. I just landed in San Francisco and got a call saying she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The same afternoon I took a flight and moved back to India. She was very close to me, so I decided to be with her during her cancer journey. In the next two days, my family also moved back to support her. We stayed with her for a year. I thought about how we can give her strength and confidence and realized that one of the most important things on this earth is time. A gift of time is very important. We spent a lot of time with my mother and made sure that we give confidence to her. She was a very brave person. I don't know how she processed it internally, but externally she was very strong. Our main goal was to be with her, support her and even my daughter, who was just six years old, said she wants to be with her grandmother.
At that time, I was not aware of all the things I learned in the last five years. I was guided by Oncologists who did their job to the best of their knowledge, but I realized after she passed away was that there is much more than just chemotherapy. This realization struck me very hard, and when we went back to the US, I was just sitting and thinking about what went wrong. I figured out that I didn't do those things which could have improved her quality of life. The extension of life is not in our hands, but the quality of life is. And when the quality of life improves, the extension of life happens by default because nobody wants to exit the body when everything is in good shape unless God calls for a higher assignment. This realization put me on the path of learning Ayurveda, aromatherapy, music therapy, guided imagery and visualization and lots of other complimentary modalities.
How do Ayurveda and other therapies help patients in their cancer journey?
Our vision is to improve the quality of life and to support holistic wellness. There are various scopes of services that help patients on their cancer journey in addition to their conventional treatment:-
Aromatherapy - Pre, during, and post-conventional treatment to address side effects
Ayurveda and Homoeopathy - Pre and post-conventional treatment. After conventional cancer treatments to focus on eliminating toxins, long-term side effects, and cancer prevention.
Diet and nutrition - Pre, during and post-conventional cancer treatments. Extended diet and nutritional support at home to address and deal with the patient's major issues. Creating awareness about a healthier diet and lifestyle.
Guided imagery and visualization- Pre, during and post-conventional cancer treatments.
Marma Therapy- Pre, during and post-conventional cancer treatment completion.
Music (Sound Therapy), Chanting- Pre, during and post-conventional cancer treatment.
Product- Pre, during and post to manage inflammation, appetite, weight loss and other challenge faced due to conventional cancer treatments.
Yoga/Pranayama/Meditation- Pre, during and post-conventional cancer treatment for immediate management of short term side effects.
Panchkarma- Pre, during, and post-conventional cancer treatment to alleviate acute side effects.
Ayurvedic herbs and marma therapy have quantifiably proven to improve immunity, sleep pattern, self-confidence, hemoglobin, circulation, and nutrient assimilation. It reduces CINV (Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting), anxiety, fatigue, constipation, acidity, bloating and inflammation. It helps to tolerate chemotherapy and better compliance with conventional treatments, along with an improved quality of life.
What is guided imagery?
Guided imagery is used to improve quality of life, and it is also proven that NK cells cytotoxicity and overall immunity also increases. It reduces chemotherapy side effects like nausea, depression, pain and anxiety. It improves tolerance to the prescribed treatment regime, improves bio- functions, and supplements the fight against cancer.
Inner healing power
What cures us is our inner healing power, and the rest of them support that inner healing power. What is important is how we can activate the inner healing power so that it can work on cancer and eliminate it.
Chemotherapy is one of the useful modalities, and the other one will also activate the inner healing power, for example- guided imagery.
We have two parts of our brain, i.e., the left brain and the right brain. The left brain is all logic, but the right brain is intuition. It works with images, and with it, lots of magic can happen. For example- I am dreaming and in my dream, someone came and knocked on my door. My body does not know the difference between someone really knocking on the door or knocking in the dream. It reacts to it because it is the image you can see; the mind gives instructions to the body, and the body reacts to it. Using images, we can get some control over the autonomous nervous system, which in turn controls the white blood cells, anxiety level, etc.
Imagery is the oldest form on earth that is used for cure. When we are stressed out during our modern lifestyle, the body thinks we are in a fight or flight situation, suppressing immunity. So the advantage of meditating even for five minutes a day is that it improves our immunity indirectly. Meditation need not be a complicated process; we just have to close our eyes, breathe in and breathe out. Breathe in from the abdomen and breath out from the mouth. While we are breathing in, there is something called nyana mudra, and we have to be in this mudra to calm down. Meditation is done to bring ourselves into a state of calmness, and at this state, our immunity is not suppressed and it helps fight against cancer. Every person has an inner advisor who knows precisely the ways in which we can speed up our cure. The guided imagery works on the principle of inner advisor and having a conversation with our inner advisor, where we bring up our inner things out. For example- some people feel their bottled emotions are the reasons for their cancer. This is not the case for every person, but some people do feel like that.
During visualization, we visualize our cure and healing. Visualization is more like a play. For example, visualizing that chemotherapy is your friend, and it's going to help. When we embrace the treatment, then the effectiveness of the treatment is more than its side effects.
There are three kinds of beliefs, i.e., negative belief, positive belief and healthy belief.
Negative belief is thinking that you won't be able to take the treatment.
Positive belief is there is no problem and you can take it and there will be no issues.
Healthy belief is that you will take the treat, and there might be issues, but you will figure out how you can manage it.
Whenever we have any belief, we have to put our belief through five questions-
- Does this belief help me to protect my life and health?
- Does it help me to achieve my short term and long term goal?
- Does it help me to resolve or avoid the most undesirable conflict with us or with others?
- Does it help me to feel the way I want to feel?
- Is this belief based on fact?
Herbs have side effects too
Herbs have their side effects based on our constitution, and that's why we always go through VPK analysis. The first thing we need to do before we take any herbs is to understand our constitution. Secondly, the medications that we are taking. We have to be very careful what herbs we are giving and at what time; we cannot be interfering with allopathic treatment and neglect the effects of chemotherapy because chemo is trying to kill the cells and if you interfere, eventually the person will be at a loss. So we have to be a little bit careful.
What difference has your cancer journey as a caregiver brought forth in your life?
I understood what I could speak and what I cannot; at least, I understood the mode of communication and its do's and don'ts. I realized that giving advice is very easy, but it isn't easy to implement. Ensure that we don't treat them as patients; if they can do certain things, we should encourage them because that will also give them confidence. I learned that I need to be very careful about who I let them speak, what I speak and what I give them. The best thing I did for my mother was giving her time.
How to overcome the fears and negative thoughts and get more connected to your inner-self?
There are rituals for a reason; it gives us discipline. When you keep doing that, you come into a frame of mind. Similarly, we have to follow a ritual to get rid of negative emotions and thoughts. A simple ritual is to write negative and healthy emotions on a piece of paper.
Based on the information I read, especially among women, resentment could be one of the significant causes of cancer because women have creative energy. When the negative emotions are bottled up and create helplessness, then that negative energy becomes negative creativity, and that's why the reproductive organs get cancer. It is on a mind-body connect perspective. It was essential to get on the process of detoxifying ourselves mentally. Anger is one shot; it comes and goes, and the damage is the fight or flight response, but that's the end, whereas resentment is replaying the anger thousands of times.
With visualization or guided imagery, we can sweep away the resentment. Visualization is bringing back the whole situation into perspective, which causes the resentment (it can be the person or the event) and figuring out how we make the person come out of the resentment. We say forgive, but forgiveness is difficult. If we find that this is the cause of resentment, we need to cut the cord between them for the resentment to go away.
There are various complementary modalities, but they are only complementary, and they cannot replace. Integrative oncology is the way to go to address this complex issue. We have to address it holistically, use all the tools, science, spirituality, diet, and herbs. We need to suggest more and more people for prevention and reduce our stress by doing simple meditation.