According to the SA Medical Research Council, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer in SA accounting for 17% of all cancer deaths. This is followed by oesophagus, which accounts for 13%, cervix accounting for 8%, breast accounting for 8% and liver, which accounts for 6% of all cancers. And, while new technologies and research proves increasingly promising, there is little sign that lifestyle factors will diminish these figures. Cancer.org also estimates that by 2030, the global cancer burden is expected to nearly double, growing to 21.4 million cases and 13.2 million deaths. And while that increase is the result of demographic changes – a growing and aging population – it may be compounded by the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors related to economic development, such as smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity.
A new integrative cancer centre, Hummingbird, has opened in Century City, Cape Town, offering a fully integrated holistic way of tackling cancer based upon global research. The centre creates individual strategies for patients and brings together leading registered doctors, dieticians, clinical psychologists, naturopaths, yoga practitioners and an Angel support network of cancer survivors to partner with patients through their journey to recovery. Each aspect of the Hummingbird program seeks to reduce the stress on the patient, and create a catalyst for the body to kick in its own self-healing. Not seen elsewhere in Cape Town, the centre is offering something that a great many doctors, cancer survivors, warriors and cancer organisations support.
Janie Du Plessis of People Living with Cancer (PLWC) explains, "As a cancer survivor myself I know the importance of an approach like this, but it's very difficult to find it, because normally you are dealing with independent doctors in various locations, and not often talking to each other. This is different. The patient is assessed, tested from many aspects of their physical, psychological and emotional being, and this information, and their ongoing development, is shared among many practitioners who meet daily to discuss their progress."
Ask a great many cancer survivors and they will declare that many hands made lighter work on their grueling and painful journey. The road to recovery, or prolonged life, is not purely a medical path, but a holistic journey of mind, body and spirit, punctuated by profound love, support and education - someone and something to help build resilience throughout their experience and to trigger the inner power to heal.
Far from a threat to traditional oncology, radiotherapy and surgery, Hummingbird sees itself as an adjunctive and fully complimentary additional and valuable pillar in the healing from cancer and the building blocks of a patient’s immunity. "We make no promises and challenge no-one - with our sole focus on helping patients and their families" says Dr. James La Porta, Hummingbird's Integrative Medical practitioner. "We simply offer a much needed service that many cancer survivors will tell you was critical to their improvement. We do not take away, we only add to, so if patients want to pursue Hummingbird as their solution, or continue their current treatments with Hummingbird, that's entirely respected."
The Centre’s nine key integrated medical treatments are aimed at enhancing the human immune function: And include a team of Integrative doctors, Natural medicine doctors, Dieticians, Clinical psychologists, PDT radiographers, Oncology nurses, Reiki practitioners, Yoga and Breath-work specialists and all underpinned by an ongoing supportive Angel program run by a team of survivors.
“We critically enhance the body’s innate healing ability and when all these modalities are integrated, the effect is greater than the sum of all parts,” continues Dr. La Porta, “In addition we optimize the mind body connection through wellness programs, including psychology, yoga, breath work and more - to enable an emotional and spiritual advantage.”
Together with optimizing nutrition and psychological optimism, the centre utilises the latest research in botanical isolates, supportive Phytotherapy and Photo Dynamic Therapy - historically PDT has successfully been used to treat skin cancer, however new advents in technology now enable this treatment to penetrate deeper under the skin and into the body. Patients entering the Hummingbird program can expect a focus on a range of minimally invasive, resilience building treatments.
Dr. La Porta concludes, "With any patient, one cannot know which of the elements will give them that added boost physically, emotionally or emotionally, but together they provide a robust framework of ingredients to tackle a very tough fight. All we can do is do our very best, and patients are at the very centre of everything we do - it's the way we've built every aspect of our treatment. The one thing we know is that many cancer survivors agree that an integrative approach is better than fighting the dragon with just one sword."