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Cancer Patients Bill of Rights

Cancer Patients Bill of Rights

September 26, 2023 | Author: Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

On August 30, 2021, the California Legislature passed a first-in-the-nation Cancer Bill of Rights resolution.  You can access information about it here.

Basically, the California cancer bill of rights outlines six principles for cancer patients. The principles focus on three things:  patients understanding treatment options; having timely access to specialists; and access to clinical trials and innovative treatments.

California Cancer Patients Bill of Rights
Cancer patients have a right to understand fully their diagnoses and be informed about treatment options in culturally appropriate and understandable languages.
Cancer patients have a right to transparent and timely processes that ensure access to contracting oncology specialists, diagnostic testing and accurate interpretations of those tests.
Cancer patients have a right to contracting cancer subspecialists who have expertise in the treatment of their subtypes of cancers when complex decisions are needed.
Cancer patients have a right to medical treatments for pain management and other services that support their overall health.
Cancer patients have a right to contracting National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers and leading academic medical centers for the management of complex cancers that require multiple experts or high-risk or emerging therapies.
Cancer patients have a right to relevant clinical trials, medical research and cutting-edge innovation, including evidence-supported precision medicine.

All good stuff, and I applaud California for taking this step for cancer patients.

But I began to wonder, is it enough?

Should there be more to the cancer patients bill of rights than what California passed?

Are there other cancer bills of rights in existence that I don’t know about?  Maybe.

But then I asked myself, what could be added to the California cancer patients bill of rights that could help cancer patients have better outcomes. That could help patients have less fear. That could help refocus cancer research on developing therapies that heal a patient and not just manage the disease symptoms.

Here is what I came up with that could be added to California’s Cancer Patient Bill of Rights. It’s modeled after the American College of Lifestyle Medicines Diabetes Bill of Rights.

Proposed Additions to Cancer Bill of Rights
You have the right to be fully informed about all treatment options for cancer before consenting to treatment.
You have the right to be given accurate, complete and unbiased information about what cancer is, what food and lifestyle habits can cause cancer and what food and lifestyle habits can contribute to the progression of cancer once it’s been initiated.
You have the right to be given accurate, complete and unbiased information about the evidence-based research showing the benefits of cancer treatment that includes eating a predominantly whole-food, plant-based diet and other lifestyle interventions such as physical activity, sleep hygiene and stress management.
You have the right to know the full effects of all medications and treatments prescribed to you, including the side effects that can accelerate and exacerbate the underlying causes of cancer.
You have the right to know that certain foods increase your risk of developing cancer.
You have the right to have your cancer medications reduced or eliminated if you undergo diet and lifestyle therapies that successfully treat the underlying causes of your condition.
You have the right to work with doctors and health care professionals who understand the links between lifestyle choices and cancer and who are equipped with the knowledge and strategies to prevent, arrest and sometimes reverse the cancer process through therapeutic food and lifestyle changes.
You have the right to ongoing education on whole-food, plant-based nutrition, meal planning and culinary skills.
You have the right to know that the same diet and lifestyle changes that can prevent, arrest and, sometimes, reverse cancer may do the same for other chronic conditions (for example, coronary artery disease, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, Type 2 Diabetes and autoimmune conditions), leading to the best chance of overall good health.

What do you think?

Should we start advocating for such a bill of rights?  Could this help patients have better outcomes?  Could this help decrease patients’ fear?  Could this help put the power back in the hands of patients?

In the meantime, you don’t need a bill of rights to take all of the above into account when faced with a cancer diagnosis.  Ask your doctor for help in understanding the role good nutrition and lifestyle practices play in helping the body heal.  Or, ask your doctor for a referral to a knowledgeable functional nutrition practitioner or certified cancer coach.  Another great source for finding certified cancer coaches is The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education. Or, you can schedule a free discovery call with me at Yetta Blair Nutrition.

Join the conversation. Create a topic in our forum.

Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta is a Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor and speaker. She studied whole-food, plant-based nutrition with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. She is a food driven analyst and works with clients to help them use nutrition principles to solve the root causes of their health symptoms. She knows that functional nutrition is the answer to our current healthcare crisis, both for individuals and for society at large, and wants to inform as many people as she can of the power of food to heal. Her promise to clients – if you eat better, you will feel better.