Naturopathic Doctor and Cancer Thriver Releases New Book for Post-Cancer Treatment

Amy-Rothenberg-Book

Returning to a healthy new normal after cancer treatment is no small feat. You Finished Treatment, Now What? A Field Guide for Cancer Survivors? (Köehlerbooks, 2022), by Amy Rothenberg, ND should be on your list if you have cancer or know someone going through treatment. 

As a member of the cancer club, I have one wish from Dr. Rothenberg’s new book, I wish it was written five years earlier for my own post-treatment recovery. I craved what this book offers, a whole-person integrative approach to recovery from an experienced licensed doctor. 

As Dr. Rothenberg says in the book, “I know this terrain intimately, as a  cancer survivor, thriver and as a licensed naturopathic doctor.” Dr. Rothenberg’s own cancer journey and the advice she received from colleagues guided much of the book’s content. She also recounts patient stories from her own medical practice that provide insight into how she has helped others through their cancer treatment and post-treatment journey. I worked with Dr. Rothenberg at the Institute for Natural Medicine during my first few years of cancer recovery. Her warmth, tenacity and knowledge come through in every book chapter. 

Any cancer patient will tell you they have a constant list of questions and worries running through their minds during the acute phases of conventional oncology treatment. There are people at the ready to answer questions and guide you through the emotionally and physically exhausting process. But when that phase ends or tapers off … then what? How do you move toward a new normal? Few doctors are as qualified to help with the then what as Dr. Rothenberg. 

Another issue is you don’t always know what to ask. During treatment many patients never think to ask about certain outcomes because the emphasis is about staying alive, not about the quality of their life after treatment. I remember asking one of my doctors if a type of complementary therapy would help speed up recovery. Her answer baffled me: “I don’t know much about it, but I guess so, if you think it might help.” It’s a lonely world when you know what you want, but can’t find the right person for guidance. Dr. Rothenberg’s book doesn’t leave you wandering or wondering what to do after cancer treatment. She introduces readers to the power and benefits of integrative medicine and integrative oncology. 

Integrative oncology is the evidence-based practice of whole-person comprehensive cancer care that folds in mind-body medicine, nutrition, physical vitality, and lifestyle into conventional cancer treatments. It is not a replacement for cancer treatment, it dovetails ongoing or previously administered therapies to reduce, prevent or minimize side effects, enhance the efficacy of conventional treatments and provide mental and physical support. Naturopathic physicians who specialize in oncology are uniquely trained to help you find a path that suits you (see more here on how to find a licensed naturopathic doctor trained in oncology). 

It’s common for cancer patients to divide their lives into two camps – before cancer and after cancer. We scrutinize our lifestyle choices before cancer and agonize over just how much to change after treatment, like what to eat, whether to gain weight or lose weight, how to get back to regular activity, is it OK to stop taking certain medications, what about dietary supplements, and are our homes a healthy environment? Dr. Rothenberg dives into recommendations on sugar intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, supplements, weight and exercise, personal care and medications. She emphasizes that each person’s situation is unique – the type of cancer, past and ongoing treatments, other illnesses or conditions all go into making after treatment recommendations and lifestyle changes. 

Dr. Rothenberg takes up many of the common side effects that may remain after conventional cancer care such as fatigue, brain fog, lymphedema, peripheral neuropathy and more and lays out the evidence-informed natural medicine approaches for each. “Natural medicine cannot help everything, but I feel sad when I hear patients say, Well, I’m lucky to be alive, I can live with this. Let’s face it: we’re all lucky to be alive! And quality of life matters, too!” says Dr. Rothenberg. 

Fear and uncertainty are the most difficult after-cancer issues. “A cancer diagnosis can be a huge blow,” Dr. Rothenberg says. “The shock, the details of complicated decision-making, and the treatment process itself can bring on emotional and physical stress,” she writes. Post treatment brings on a new host of thoughts and “a potent mix of exhilaration, anxiety, fear, depression, overwhelm, terror, anger and relief.” 

Dr. Rothenberg explores the notion that cancer patients may never return to their previous before-cancer normal, but that it is possible to get back to life with a “strong and consistent head game.” Each person brings along a complex history of emotional trauma and agility. Cancer only complicates this roller coaster of thoughts because the physiological stress of chemotherapy agents and the trauma of surgery and radiation can cause activation and inflammation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This in turn can lead to anxiety, panic attacks and depression induced by the treatment itself. 

Dr. Rothenberg shares a funny story about somatosensory amplification, where small symptoms anywhere in the body are amplified and some cancer survivors worry whatever such a symptom is might be cancer. “One time a year or so after my treatment was complete, I walked into a open cabinet door, really clocking my forehead. I had a big bruise and small egg on my head,” she says. “The next morning, I woke up with (an unusual for me to ever have,) headache and I literally said to my husband, ‘oh! I hope it’s not brain cancer!’ We looked at each other and started laughing, considering the situation. Sometimes a good laugh is the best medicine indeed!”

She impresses upon readers that you can change your biochemistry to alter your stress response. This is a takes a variety of approaches including medications and dietary-supplement aids when appropriate and prescribed, along with exercise, support groups, psychotherapy, gratitude and mindfulness practices, breathing techniques, touch and massage therapies. Sometimes something as simple as laughter, having fun and time with family and friends is enough. Dr. Rothenberg is particularly keen on gratitude practices when spoken aloud, to yourself or written in a journal to strengthen relationships, improve sleep and gain more life satisfaction. 

You Finished Treatment, Now What? is a book that has long been needed so that cancer patients know what can be done to help them restore their lives, overcome treatment side effects and learn how to make their bodies inhospitable to possible future cancers. Dr. Rothenberg is a champion for the growing practice of integrative oncology. 

Her dream is that every cancer patient has access to a naturopathic doctor trained in integrative oncology. Until that day, this book is a step in the right direction to help patients know what to ask for so they can champion their own health and recovery. 

Purchase the book, You Finished Treatment, Now What?, A Field Guide for Cancer Survivors from your favorite bookstore or online. Follow Dr. Rothenberg on Amazon for more tips of after-care treatment. To learn more about naturopathic medicine and oncology and find a naturopathic doctor, visit oncanp.org

This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following  initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

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Deb Hubers

Debra Hubers is a serial entrepreneur and has started seven businesses; ranging from an advanced genomics to an employer health care purchasing cooperative. Deb has over 35 years of experience in healthcare finance, education, technology, and pharmacogenomics.

Ms. Hubers has dedicated her career to measuring and improving healthcare outcomes. Her expertise is leveraging technology to deliver personalized, preventative medicine. Ms. Hubers co-founded La Vita Compounding Pharmacy in 2007. Collaborating with her business partner, physicians and strategic partners, Deb has grown La Vita to be one of the most respected and sought-after personalized medicine providers on the west coast. She is also Co-Founder of EpigeneticsRx, a leading provider of precise, personalized, prevention which positively impacts genetic expression.

Alex Keller, ND

Dr. Alex Keller, ND, AFMCP is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences and Psychology. Although originally intending to attend conventional medical school, following a three-month volunteer internship at a rural Kenyan hospital where he observed how doctors used local food to treat patients, he shifted his career goals and pursued a degree in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

After one year of practicing with the esteemed Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, RH in a community acupuncture setting, in 2015 he and his wife Dr. Jenn Keller, ND moved to rural Ottawa, Canada where they started an organic farm and retreat center. In the same year, Alex and his athletic therapist sister Jess Keller combined their practices to form Keller Active Health, an integrative physical therapy clinic.

Ever curious and passionate about the education of evidence-based natural medicine, in 2017, Dr. Keller joined a fledgling Ottawa-based health tech startup named Fullscript. He serves as its Medical Director and oversees the development of medical education content for practitioners across North America.

Prior to medicine, Alex worked in the renewable energy sector, where he developed a deep passion for sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. This connection between medicine and agriculture now drives Alex to focus much of his energy on bringing awareness to the quality and sourcing standards in the supplement and organic agriculture supply chains.

Today, he splits his professional time practicing as a clinician, working for Fullscript, and expanding the farming operation while chasing his kids with Jenn and occasionally running ultra-marathon trail races. He is also currently completing an Executive MBA through the Quantic School of Business & Technology with a focus on supply chain innovation.

Pamela Snider, ND

Pamela Snider, ND, is Executive and Senior Editor for the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project, producing a first of its kind international textbook of Naturopathic medicine through a series of international retreats and symposia. A nationally recognized integrative health and policy leader, she is active in both national and regional integrative health initiatives. Dr. Snider serves on the Board of Directors, was founding Executive Director and co-founder of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Health (ACIH/ACCAHCa consortium of the councils of schools, accrediting agencies and certifying bodies of the licensed, traditional and emerging integrative health professions, and is currently Vice Chair and co-founder of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC).  Dr. Snider served as a founding Board Member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine from 2014-2016. Her public policy work includes completing a two year appointment to the DHHS Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC); serving as a Steering Committee Member for  the HRSA funded American College of Preventive Medicine NCCIM Integrative Medicine in Preventive Medicine Residency program, co-directing in USPHS Region X the Building Bridges Between Provider Communities Group, an exploration of interdisciplinary collaboration and common ground between public health and CAM; serving for 22 years on Washington State’s Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program Advisory Committee (HPLRSP); providing technical assistance to and developing key language for the enabling legislation for NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH/NCCAM); and staffing Joseph Pizzorno ND during his appointment as Commissioner on the White House Commission on CAM Policy.

From 1994-2003, Dr. Snider served as Associate Dean for Public and Professional Affairs and Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, dividing her work between academic and public affairs activities, including chairing the Naturopathic Medicine Program Curriculum Review Committee.  Dr. Snider has been teaching, publishing and lecturing widely on Naturopathic philosophy, theory integrative health, public policy, and other topics for over 30 years. Currently, an Associate Professor at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland, OR, Dr. Snider also continues at Bastyr University in her 22nd year as a faculty member teaching naturopathic medicine history, clinical theory, and global context. Among her Naturopathic medicine professional roles she serves on the Institute for Natural Medicine’s Leadership Council.  In 1989, she co-led the naturopathic profession with Dr. Jared Zeff, in developing a unifying definition of naturopathic medicine and its principles of practice adopted unanimously by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) House of Delegates. She was a co-investigator in the 2004 NIH NCCAM research study, the North American Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda and CAM Advisor in NIHCCAM’s Financing Integrative Health Care (University of Washington).  Her areas of experience include healthcare education; naturopathic and interdisciplinary clinical theory, curriculum development; clinical practice; government and legislative affairs, public policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community organizing.  Dr. Snider has received the Ontario Naturopathic Physician of the Year Award, the Physician of the Year Award from the AANP, the President’s Outstanding Vision Award and Distinguished Alumnus Award at Bastyr University, AANP’s President’s Award, an honorary Doctorate of Naturopathic Philosophy from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), the William A Mitchell Vis Award from the AANP and The Gathering – NMSA’s Beacon Award. She received her ND degree in 1982 from Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences and is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Washington. She lives with her husband and children at their homestead in North Bend Washington, in the beautiful mountain to sea landscape and home of The Revival – Restore the Vis, an annual student-led community gathering.

Susan Haeger

Susan Haeger is Founder/Principal of Transformative Health Solutions Inc. She has applied her twenty plus years in executive leadership to help shape and drive adoption of progressive health policy for whole person healthcare. She was a section contributor to the 2021 INM/AANP published professional white paper, Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists: The Future is Whole Person Health Care that provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventive, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice.

Bruce Barlean

Bruce Barlean is an owner and founder of Barlean’s, a global dietary supplement manufacturer located in the Pacific Northwest in Ferndale, WA. Bruce has been actively involved in the Natural Products industry since 1989 and is passionate about making a difference in the world and positively impacting the lives of others.

Bruce believes that people can make a difference in the world through ordinary purchases. He is committed to improving the quality of life for every person on the planet by making the best products and by using the profits to support outreach programs. Bruce summarizes it simply, “We make good stuff to do good stuff”.

In the late 1980’s Bruce became passionate about how health could be dramatically improved with Flax Oil Supplementation. Bruce along with his entrepreneurial parents saw the potential to improve the lives of many people and in 1989 they began selling Flax Oil under the Barlean’s name. From 1989 – 2000 the business grew an average of 40% year over year. While most companies saw a decline in business in the 2001 recession, Barlean’s continued to grow and soon became America’s #1 selling flaxseed oil and continues to be to the present. The brand has since expanded to include additional oils, green food concentrates and other premium supplements. Bruce continues to drive innovation and over the years his products and company have won countless awards including: Eight consecutive Vity Awards for #1 EFA, Six consecutive Vity Awards for #1 Greens Food Supplement, Natural Choice Award for Best Specialty Supplement, Best Product of the Year, Best New Product, Gold Medal Taster’s Choice Award, Gold Medal American Masters of Taste Award, #1 Health Food Store Brand for Consumer Satisfaction by Consumer Lab, and Manufacturer of the Year.

In 2013 as the company was on the eve of celebrating the 25th year in business Bruce and his parents decided to take their desire to help people to a new level that they call Pathway to a Better Life – which is now seen in the Barlean’s logo. Bruce and his parents had always been generous in their giving and support of charities, but as part of the Pathway to a Better Life they decided to increased partnership with charitable organizations such as: Vitamin Angels, Compassion International, KidsTown International, Autism Hope Alliance, Engedi Refuge, Project 92, and others. And because so many people are unable to meet basic nutritional needs, Bruce created a comprehensive Omega-3 and multivitamin formula that he distributes free-of-charge to local food banks. In addition, Bruce decided the company would supply food banks with organic coconut oil to provide people with a health alternative to standard cooking oils.

Always generous with his time Bruce has served as a youth leader for his local church for several years and continues to mentor youth. He has been on several not for profit boards including; Whatcom County Pregnancy Center (2003-2006), Natural Products Association (dates?), and the Institute for Natural Medicine Leadership Council (presently).

The Barlean family have been avid supporters of Bastyr University since the 1990’s and in 2013 were given Bastyr’s most prestigious honor, the Mission Award, which recognizes their leadership over time in improving the health and well-being of the human community.

Bruce currently resides in Ferndale, WA with his wife Lisa and their two dogs: Heinz & Shadow. When he’s not helping others he can be found fishing (catch & release).

Get Involved!

Michelle Simon, PHD, ND

President & CEO

As president and CEO of INM, Dr. Simon brings her passion for working with organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of healthcare. This desire stems from her years of practice as a licensed naturopathic physician. In addition to holding a Naturopathic Doctorate from Bastyr University she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has served on boards for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), and several advisory boards. Dr. Simon served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee, as Ambassador to the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and was recognized as 2018 AANP Physician of the Year. Dr. Simon shares with her husband a passion for adventure travel, preferably by boat or motorcycle. She also enjoys teaching a women’s off-road motorcycling class.