Dr. Amy Rothenberg shares how to support your body in creating lasting health by harnessing the natural ability to heal.
What does it take to live a long healthy life? In this episode, Dr. Amy Rothenberg shares how a combination of stress management, increasing exercise and smart diet choices can support you in creating lasting health by harnessing the natural ability that your body has to heal. Cancer has touched the lives of so many people. Dr. Rothenberg’s latest book focuses on creating lasting health once in recovery from cancer treatment. Through her work and countless medical studies, she has found that supporting a thriving life is based on the same few easy to implement ideas.
In this episode we chat about:
Dr. Amy & Paula’s personal connection to cancer and the impact it has had on their lives.
How your body already has the power to heal.
The benefits of naturopathy in comparison to conventional medicine.
The mindset of becoming well & healthy.
Understanding your life’s mission to thrive.
And so much more!
Dr. Rothenberg has practiced naturopathic medicine since 1986. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 2017 Physician of the Year, she is currently president of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors. She was the longtime medical editor for the Institute of Natural Medicine. She spearheaded the successful licensure effort in Massachusetts
When diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Rothenberg sought care at a renowned teaching hospital and had a naturopathic doctor dream team. Her book, You Finished Treatment, Now What? A Field Guide for Cancer Survivors is a roadmap for lifestyle and natural medicine to address health challenges that persist after care, and to reduce risk of recurrence.
In her spare time, Dr. Rothenberg putters in her art studio, plays guitar, and spends time with family and friends. Dr. Rothenberg has worked with Paul Herscu ND, MPH since 1986. They raised three wonderful children, and enjoy the good life in Western Massachusetts.
Buy the book on indiebound:
Connect with Dr. Amy here:
(02:30) Dr. Amy Rothenburg shares her life story, from losing both her parents before the age of 17 to her career in medicine as a naturopathic doctor treating cancer patients and cancer survivors.
(11:11) The benefits of naturopathy over conventional medicine.
(15:00) The philosophy of naturopathic cancer treatment.
(20:50) Increasing the amount of exercise, increases your likelihood of living a long healthy
(23:22) How exercise supports your ability to process stress.
(28:30) Using the online space to do things that are good for them in health & exercise.
(31:30) Entrepreneurship, auto-immune or chronic illness onset.
(33:00) Advice for a healthy lifestyle as a business owner.
(44:10) You are modelling behaviours when you choose healthy choices and movements.
people, book, cancer, life, exercise, naturopathic doctors, patients, naturopathic, feel, called, treatment, doctor, world, important, physician, traditional medicine, bit, recurrence, care, cancer survivors
Dr. Amy Rothenberg, Paula Shepherd
Paula Shepherd 00:01
Hi, I'm Paula Shepherd, I went to college to get a good job and make a lot of money. Back then, no one talked about doing what you love. And while I successfully climbed the corporate ladder, I felt like there was something missing. So I left the seemingly comfortable corporate world at 40 years old for the freedom of full time entrepreneurship. Today, I get to help ambitious women go from entrepreneur to competent CEO of their lives and businesses. I created this podcast to share what I've learned with you to make your journey just a little easier, and to connect you with other incredible business owners who took a chance on themselves and who they are becoming. So whether you're just getting started, are all in or just when you hear friendly voice. Come on in and sit with us. Now, let's dive in. Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of The confidence Sessions. Today I have a guest unlike any other and when I say this, it is the topic that she talks about is so near and dear to my heart, because I have such a long standing family history of cancer. And I've told a little bit about my own story and I'm really excited to have her with us. So Dr. Amy Rothenberg has practised naturopathic medicine since Gosh 1986. And she is the 2017 physician of the year named by the American Association of naturopathic physicians. But when she was diagnosed with cancer, she sought care at a renowned teaching hospital and she had a naturopathic doctor team or a doctor Dream Team. Now she has a book, which we are going to talk about at length, you finish treatment. Now what a field guide for cancer survivors, which is a roadmap for lifestyle and natural medicine to address health changes that persist after care. The after part is what we never talked about, and how to reduce the risk of recurrence. Welcome to the competent sessions.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 02:17
Thank you so much for having me.
Paula Shepherd 02:20
I would love to get started backward all begins Wayne before your diagnosis. If we can go all the way back there. What did your life look like?
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 02:31
You bet you bet. Well, I, I'll start right from the beginning. You know, I had a beautiful childhood with a very loving family, a little bit north of New York City. And unfortunately, that beautiful family was a bit shattered when I was 12, my father died in his sleep of a heart attack. That's the kiss of death for the person who dies, but it's terrible for everybody left behind. A couple of years later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I'm sure that she probably carried the braca mutation of because I think that's what we have in our family. But I was 16 when my mother passed away. So I was a little bit unguided, you could say, but I had tremendous luck and good fortune and blessing of finding mentors, teachers, advisors who really understood me understood who I was, what I was about what I was interested in, and I wound up I was very drawn to medicine. I always wanted to be a doctor. But I was somewhat disillusioned because conventional medicine had not really helped my parents at all. They had a typical American diet, they had a lot of stress, just money things and for kids and the stresses of raising a family. And mostly they were just given drugs to try to address their issues. But of course, both succumbed quite early in their lives. So I got I went away from from deciding to become a doctor and I got more into journalism and writing. But I kept getting pulled back into biology, whether it was ornithology, or botany, or human physiology. I just loved that area. I went to Antioch College in Ohio, and I had an advisor there who basically said you need to think about naturopathic medicine. And I kind of very, that didn't really click in any way. But ENIAC was a work study school. So I went to school for six months, and I had jobs where for six months, so if you fast forward a number of years, I had a job at the University of Oregon Health Sciences Centre, but I lived with what turned out to be three naturopathic medical students. And as soon as I sat around that kitchen table with them and heard what they were doing, and how they were working with patients, and how they were emphasising the whole idea of treat the whole person, try to find the underlying cause of illness have belief and faith and tap into the healing, inherent healing capacity. We all have the healing power and nature around us through the food through water through Diet through botanical medicines, etc. I was like, Okay, this is clearly where I'm meant to be. It's clearly what I'm meant to do. So at 21, when I finished my bachelor's in biology, I went to the naturopathic medical school in Portland, Oregon. And I jumped in with two feet, and I felt 100% in sync with what my purpose as a human being is. And I haven't really looked back. So I've had a very successful practice, I met my husband at naturopathic school, we practice together for the last 36 years. In fact, we graduated medical school on a Saturday night, and we got married on Sunday morning.
Paula Shepherd 05:40
It was meant to be oh my god, you didn't waste any time either.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 05:43
Fun, it was a super fun weekend. And over the course of my career, I always treated cancer patients, most naturopathic doctors do about 60 to 70% of people going through conventional cancer treatment, use some forms of natural or integrative medicine, and most of that they're finding on their own on the internet, through friends through word of mouth. And what struck me was how amazing and just inspiring the evolution of conventional medicine has been there many people alive now due to advances in drug treatment, surgical procedures, application of radiation, immunotherapies, and list goes on. And I myself am a recipient of all of those kinds of approaches. And model patient, I would think my providers would say, but it was very clear to me that people also needed naturopathic support when they were going through conventional care, so that they could enhance the efficacy of the conventional care, you know, make cells, cancer cells, more chemo sensitive, or more radio sensitive, if you will, and that they also needed help in preventing the common side effects associated with many of the conventional treatments. And then they needed help if side effects did arise. And then most importantly, related to my current project, and then the book that is launching soon, is they needed help mopping up afterward, from the kind of symptoms they were left with, after conventional care. So with all of medicine, we're always looking at what are the risks benefits, so I knew for me that the benefit of taking chemotherapy outweighed the risks. And the benefit of doing this surgery outweighed the risks did radiation and denote immunotherapy. So I know that we're always weighing those things and that those are the conversations we have with our oncologist or other physicians if we have other physical or emotional or cognitive challenges, and health issues, but the people that I was seeing and continued to see who were post treatment had so many symptoms left over from treatment, brain fog, depression, lymphedema, peripheral neuropathy, problems with digestion, lack of satisfaction with sex, the list goes on. And they also were saddled with what I would call for many people almost a paralysing fear of recurrence. So they finished treatment, it should have been a super happy day, they may maybe had a few happy hours or days or weeks. And then that anxiety, we creep back in always kind of looking over your shoulder is it going to come back. And I think the conventional medical world is getting more and more hip to the idea that patients need more in their survivorship years, we have many more survivors, we have many more people who are going to live full, wonderful lives able to work again, or continue working, be with their family, friends do their hobbies and things that they love. But they can do it with a better quality of life and with better health outcomes. So there are ways that we can shift our internal environment to be less hospitable to the return of cancer. And so this book that I wrote, you finished treatment now what a field guide for cancer survivors, is all about addressing the symptoms that persist after care, care, and then really working to shift the tendency to be susceptible to getting cancer again.
Paula Shepherd 09:15
Oh my goodness, I have so so many questions, because like I said, this has run so prevalent in my family. I have my mother two time breast cancer survivor. My grandmother now passed, she was breast cancer survivor. She had had a mastectomy. Two of her sisters, you know, my father had cancer, not breast cancer, but my father had breast prostate cancer. I'm braca positive. And I feel very blessed that I was able to make a choice before it was made for me. There's a lot of stuff around that too. I think that we don't talk about and I'm sure that you deal with that in your practice as well. But I think when people are thinking about traditional cancer, so somebody gets diagnosed with blow st breast cancer. It's the Ono moment and what am I supposed to do? And now I'm going to go through chemo and radiation, I'm going to be uncomfortable, I'm going to lose my hair. People are going to feel sorry for me. I can't feel sorry for myself. But wait a minute, I do feel sorry for myself, is it okay for me to feel those feelings? Right? Because it goes so far beyond the physical piece of it. It's not about the hair loss. It's about the the pride, the shame, the the like not feeling like yourself anymore. And I know that the medical piece or the you know, when we're talking about traditional medicine doesn't approach their care. From that perspective, it's how do we treat this thing? How do we treat this cancer rigorously? So when they partner not just with a traditional doctor, which is a traditional medicine, conventional medicine, and then they're coming to you? What is the benefit there? What are they? What should they are they actually receiving? You can see here in Austin, right? So people are very open to that. But I think there are different pockets of the world that are like, yeah, that's some crazy stuff right there. What
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 11:10
would you say? It's a great question. And I would encourage you to use the word conventional medicine. Because traditional medicine, if you go back a long time was really more in the purview of home care, related to what people could do with their food and their herbs and their hydrotherapy and things like that. That's more traditional that are we have traditional medicines from Native American people or the iron Vedic tradition. So I really prefer the word conventional medicine, just a small detail. I, it's a very good question. And I think that it's what a naturopathic doctor or a medical doctor who works in integrative medicine, because there are some, what they can offer is really support for going through those kinds of treatments. So in other words, when somebody is going in for a knee replacement, let's say they talk a lot about prehab. And what you need to do for prehab, well, if you're going in for a mastectomy, and ramping up to chemotherapy, afterward a radiation, let's say, there are lots of things you can do with regard to prehab, in terms of tidying up your diet, in terms of reducing alcohol consumption, in terms of focusing on the number one most important thing people can do, which is to continue to exercise. And we think about exercise in three areas, aerobic resistance training, or weight training, and something stretching, like yoga, Qigong, all those kinds of things like that. So those are some prehab, things that are kind of essential that help people have better outcomes. And I should say that in the book that I wrote, and in the teaching that I do, both online and in person, and in my practice, everything that I recommend is evidence based. So evidence based means that somebody has studied this. And they have done studies, first, maybe on the cellular level, then maybe in other kinds of models, and then maybe and then in people. So we know that breast cancer patients who continue to exercise through treatment have better outcomes, literally better outcomes. And that is not something that I'm making up. And it's not something that I'm wishing about, there are actually medical studies that you can read about that show that there's a wonderful resource that people should know about. It's called PubMed, it basically is a compilation of all of the medical journals. And you can type in a topic, let's say you heard that curcumin, the thing derived from Tumeric is anti inflammatory, good for cancer, you can type in breast cancer tumeric, PubMed, and you can find a whole bunch of studies. Now. They're written by researchers, biologists, physicians, et cetera. So the language is going to be of that world. And it may feel a little bit challenging, but you can certainly read the abstract the little paragraph that synopsize is the article, and you can get the drift of it. Why this is important is because we don't want to do anything that puts a patient at risk. So the there are many positive attributes of things from the natural medicine world, but there are also things to be aware of that can be dangerous. So of course now everybody's number one doctor is Dr. Google, and that no, not really a good idea. You know, you really should go to somebody who has expertise and training in these kinds of approaches, so that you can be sure that you're gonna get all the benefit and the least amount of risk as possible. With the natural medicine things, let alone the conventional stuff. The American Association of naturopathic physicians maintains a robust directory of licenced naturopathic doctors in this country. There are 26 states and municipalities, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands that licenced naturopathic doctors to provide medical care. There are about 15 other states that are currently in legislative efforts to bring naturopathic doctors to that capacity. I spearheaded the effort for licensure in the state of Massachusetts Switch past several years back. And what I would say is that for naturopathic medicine philosophically, you know, we talked a little bit about treat the whole person, identify and treat the underlying cause, use prevention as much as possible, understand a person's symptoms in the context of the rest of their life. So if somebody comes to me with, let's say, prostate cancer, I also need to know do they have any issues with vertigo, any problems with headaches? How's their cardiovascular system? Any problems breathing? Does the urinary tract work? Right? Do they have any issues with their skin? Everything we do, it's called a review of systems. And we're very methodical it goes through the whole person, then we pivot a bit, and we want to learn everything, we're about the person where they are in the psycho emotional realm, and the tendencies for depression, anxiety, irritability, you know, are you being treated for these things? Of course, you're reviewing people's drugs that they're on, and then we're going to shift in another direction and find out about what's going on cognitively. You know, we know that cognitive decline is an enormous issue, we could do a whole podcast on the naturopathic approaches to the prevention of cognitive decline, because believe me, we need it.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 16:05
And we also want to know about the person's sleep, and we're gonna know about how they the lifestyle factors that impact their health. What's their diet, like, I have all my patients do a diet diary for me, so I can actually see what they are eating and the amount and how they feel when they eat those things. Do they consume alcohol? What's the relationship to exercise? Do they have support in their home environment? Are they feeling connected in terms of their community, and, and so on? They know it kind of goes on. And so a lot of patients will say to me, after our initial visit, oh, my God, no doctor has ever asked me all that. But for me, first of all, I feel like it's really helps prevent burnout as a physician, because I have time with patients. And I'm getting to know them, and they become my extended family. And I, you know, I know that the typical doctor visit in conventional medical world is between eight and 15 minutes. It's hard to say too much. And they have done studies on when patients speak, how much time elapses before a doctor interrupts them. I don't know if you want to take us at that number there. 10 seconds. 11 seconds? Oh,
Paula Shepherd 17:14
I mean, personal experience. I know.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 17:16
Exactly. So you can't get too much out in 10 seconds, you know, I'm saying like, it's a ah, and I have to say that I personally have an amazing medical team at MassGeneral. They give me all the time that I want need. I asked a lot of questions. I have a whole chapter in the book, which is called how to talk. So your oncologist listens, and listen to your oncologist talks? And I basically give my tip sheet there on really, how can you be the best possible patient for yourself to get the information you need in a format you can digest in the amount that you can absorb? And how can you take back a little bit of self agency, particularly when you're in the world of a new cancer diagnosis, or when you're launched into the world after treatment ends? It's a very unbalanced confusing moment for a lot of people. And so I really try in this book to tack down in clear areas, what you can do to shift your tendency for being as susceptible to cancer. And then there's a half the book is devoted to the common complaints people have after cancer care, and what are the natural medicine approaches to try to address those in order to help with quality life? Because a lot of people come to me and they're so grateful for being alive. And they're basically stuck between grateful for being alive and terrified of recurrence. And they'll say things like, well, it's okay, you know, I'm so happy to be alive. I can live with this. And I always say, Well, you know, we're all lucky to be alive. And maybe you don't have to live with it or live with it as badly.
Paula Shepherd 18:57
Wow, what? So? I think that there is that that Well, I am grateful to be alive, but I'm going to hold my breath. Every time I go to the doctor, every time I get lab work done, I'm going to wonder is the other Is today the day that she was gonna drop? So I know you're I don't want to give away the whole book. Right. But I but I think it's really important for us to maybe talk about what's one thing that is important as people are, you know, they ring the bell, and it's their last chemo treatment, and maybe they're not having radiation and they're coming out of it and they're in remission. What is the number one thing that you work with them on to get started?
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 19:38
You bet. I'm going to give a caveat that there is a one whole chapter in the book on the head game and the importance of the head game. Ooh, I just that's not the most important thing, but it's very high up there that addressing anxiety depression, irritability is huge. And you know, in the book, I really delineate how you can address those things and why It's important related to cancer, there's a whole field of medicine, which is called psycho neuro immunology. Your mind affects your nervous system, and your nervous system affects your immune system. And we are all but cancer survivors in particular 100% dependent on our immune system to do the job of keeping cancer at bay, we all have cancer cells floating around that's kind of known for been known for a long time, but many people are just able to go after them and get rid of them and nullify them. And so people with braca mutation like us, you know, we have something missing in our genetics that enables us to do that repeatedly and predictably very well. And other people get cancer for lots of different reasons. Most cancer is not genetic. I think you've probably know that. But the number one thing that people can do if when they're coming out of treatment, and they're entering their survivorship years, hopefully decades, is exercise. That is the number one thing, bar none. So if somebody is sedentary, there's lots of room for growth. If somebody already exercises, they can probably take it up a few notches. And I'll give you an example from my own life. I was an avid exerciser, I was a very first wave of Title Nine. I played three sports in high school, played volleyball through college. And I continue to exercise through raising three children and having a career and I would go to the gym, you know, three, four times a week. The other days, I would take a long walk. I was very committed to it. In 2014 When I was treated for breast and then ovarian cancer the same year I had 16 rounds of chemo. And at my last chemo, I said to my husband, Alright, honey, in six months, let's do our first triathlon. Wow. said to me, I will be your photography team.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 21:42
So I did a triathlon that year with my couple of my kids. And so my siblings and nieces and nephews, it was so fun. So every year since then I do one or two triathlons, even during COVID When they were there were none that was sanctioned. We charted it out, mapped it out in our town here. And I have one coming up on September 11. So for me, like I kicked up my commitment to exercise and like what does that mean? It means carving out time every day. And for me, it has to be first thing in the morning, if I don't do it, first thing, I will probably not do it. Full busy life by the time five, six o'clock comes down. Maybe I can get it together go for a walk with my husband, but I'm not going to go do a big power long workout. So I do I basically go to the gym couple days a week where I do the circuit on weight lifting because of course I'm on a medication that I had oestrogen receptor positive cancer. So I'm on a oestrogen suppressing medication, which impacts many things, including bone health. So it's very important for me to get that resistance training in. And then I'm an avid swimmer and I love to bike ride. Running is my least favourite. But I run a mile a couple times a week, just so that that once or twice a year, I can run three miles. And I keep I keep it fresh. And then my husband I really into ballroom dance, which is a fantastic source of aerobic exercise and many other many other things. So I think that is the number one thing people say, Well, how could that be? No, there must be a supplement. And there must be something to eat. Yeah, there are lots of things. And you could the book is filled with details about that. But the number one thing is exercise. And I'll tell you why. When you exercise, you raise your threshold for feeling stress. So the same experience the same interaction, the same thought pattern that might trigger a stress response, you have more tolerance for those things. And so that going back to that psychoneuroimmunology that's very important. The other thing that happens when you exercise is that you dissipate the stress that you do have, it has an outlet, it has somewhere to go, it unwinds it no longer feels like such a bad thing. And thirdly, maybe this is most important. Thirdly is when you exercise, you are better perfused perfusion has to do with moving blood around your body. So when you move blood around your body, you basically are amplifying the impact of all the other good decisions you've made about not over drinking and not eating sugar and eating an anti inflammatory diet and taking that little handful of supplements that we know have anti cancer impact. When you exercise, you move around that nourishment better. And you also stimulate your immune theories. Immune theories are all of the things in your body that enable you to get rid of the toxins in your system. Now when I say toxins, what I mean are the natural metabolites of the digestive process. You know, we have a bowel movement, we urinate, we perspire, these are all ways that we get rid of the metabolites that we don't need. And we also the the monkeys are also good at helping us get rid of some of the external toxins that we are exposed to, through our air through our water through our food system, through the chemicals that we use in our home in our personal care products, et cetera, et cetera. You know, I have a whole chain After in the book about how to address environmental toxins, how you can control the parts that are controllable, some we can't control, but the ones we should, what kind of makeup are you using? Are you dyeing your hair with toxic chemicals? What do you use to clean your toilet, I mean, all of these things matter, and they're cumulative. So when we exercise, we support the monetary system of detoxification, which is an enormous, enormous ly important component of shifting the internal environment to be less hospitable to the development of further cancer.
Paula Shepherd 25:33
There's a lot to unpack there. And I think some of it is, if someone is, you know, let's just say we're trying to prevent cancer. And getting out and exercising has always been really hard, because someone might be going, well, of course, you were an athlete in school, and maybe they weren't an athlete in school, and just the premise of getting up to exercise. It sounds really good, but they can't motivate themselves to do it. I'm certain that you've come across people like this before. How do you how do you get people to a place where they just get started? So you can increase their capacity to manage stress by moving and dissipating it? Right?
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 26:16
It's a very good question. And yes, I mean, I have people who say to me, I will do anything, but I will not exercise, they literally tell me that. I feel like you know, one of the basic tenets of naturopathic medicine is doctor is teacher, though ser comes from the word teach, you know, to teach and laugh. So I share everything I just shared. So just to appeal to the person's intellect, sometimes you can appeal to the intellect. And that can override the tendency for the couch potato tendency, you can override that. The other thing I we know, and this is something that's been studied in psychology is that when you link one good habit to another habit, you're more likely to do it. So I will say to people, you know, Do you brush your teeth every day? And most people do. I mean, really, I don't think I've ever had somebody say, Well, I take days off, most people do. So it's okay, before you brush your teeth, I'd like you just to commit to 250 steps around your house. That's it. And I also am a big believer in consciousness raising. So some people think they don't exercise, but they have an pedometer on their phone. And they're actually getting about 3000 steps a day, just schlepping here, taking the kids, they're doing this cleaning something at work going down to get the mail, whatever, they're actually getting a fair number of steps. So I have people do some consciousness raising for a week without trying to do anything different. And they come back and they're taking, they're taking, like 600 steps a day, and many of them are between the couch and the refrigerator. You know, I said, Okay, that's that is a problem. And we're going to just try to bump that up to 2000 steps a day. Most people can do that. And we start out with like, do you have speakers that fit? Do you have a safe place to walk? Are you comfortable walking alone? I mean, you know, it's there are questions we really need to ask for safety is so important, isn't it? And I think that in some ways, well, COVID has been just a disaster on so many levels. It has also opened up an entire, you know, really blown open an entire list of things that people can do online that are good for them. I'm sure there's a whole list of things people can do online that are bad for them, but we'll focus on the good ones. And some of them are related to, you know, taking a tap dance lesson online, or learning how to do Zumba online or taking a class where I have a lot of women in my practice in a similar situation to me don't want to go to the gym to lift weights. You can do a Thera band workout, a 20 minute Thera band workout to help prevent osteoporosis. You just type in, you know, YouTube, theraband, workout osteoporosis, and you will get several people who are giving free 2025 minute lessons on Thera band use for the prevention of osteoporosis. So I feel like it's about education, encouragement, positive feedback, small, incremental changes that are sustainable. I'm not going to tell somebody who walks 800 steps a day to walk 5000 steps a day, they won't even start because they're so discouraged and overwhelmed. So we start small, we make incremental changes. And I have perfect faith that for the vast, vast majority of people, when they begin to exercise, they actually feel better. One of the
Paula Shepherd 29:25
not one of them gets started, but it always feels good. Nobody regrets it after they do.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 29:30
Yeah, except maybe my husband, he often says, No, that was some of the best research on the post cancer treatment of fatigue, which is a very common problem. Even people's blood work has returned to normal. They are no evidence of disease. They they should they still have fatigue, the number one treatment to address that fatigue is exercise and that's been studied over and looked at from the left and the right and it's totally, it's just true. And so people need to hear that, and if there's because because one of the biggest reasons people give me that they don't want to exercise is that they feel tired. Right? What seems
Paula Shepherd 30:08
counterintuitive to then get up and move when you're feeling exhausted? So do you listen to your body and saying that I'm tired? And I'm not ready yet? Or do you say there's a reason that I'm tired, and it's because I'm not moving
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 30:22
the ladder. And also, of course, I want to put in one little, you know, parenthesis there, that people do need to be cleared by the physician that XYZ type x size, they are cleared for, you know, if they have lung cancer, can they do this, invariably, everybody can do a little something. I mean, it's just the rare, rare person, if a person has very advanced disease, and they're in the last phases of life, this is not relevant anymore. But I'm talking about people who are just newly starting in their survivorship years or years or decades into survivorship, these things are all relevant. And I will add, I have a wonderful friend who, and colleagues who blurred my book, who talked about how she herself was not a cancer survivor, but her husband and her sister were, and that she has adopted many of the same approaches in the book, and she's never felt better. So a lot of things I talked about in the book are not just for the prevention and recurrence of cancer, they also help prevent cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and in all of its manifestations, diabetes, type two diabetes, autoimmune diseases, you know, a natural, unhealthy lifestyle is gonna, you know, rising tide raises all ships. So,
Paula Shepherd 31:27
you know, I really want to talk about disease. And I know that we're talking about cancer specifically, but I have seen so many people, particularly entrepreneurs, you know, business owners talk about they started a business because they wanted to live this life of freedom, they want to help people. And somehow they slip into taking care of everyone else and not themselves. And what winds up happening is I see so many people that come out of it burnt out and not just burnt out, but with some form of disease. And I've heard a lot of Hashimotos. And those kinds of things. You bet. If someone's listening, and they say, Well, you know, I don't have cancer. And I'm really interested in what you're saying. And I'm getting myself to the point where I feel like, I'm going to have a heart attack if I continue this, knowing that their values say that they want to have a beautiful family life, and they want to be successful, and they want to have time to reflect and they want to live in a joyful way. What are some recommendations that you would give to them with your knowledge, to to be able to do that, so that they're not in a position that they're reading your book as a cancer survivor, but looking at it as a way of prevention?
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 32:49
Right, right. Somebody told me I need my next book needs to be you're alive now what A Field Guide to Healthy Living, or something like that, because he is well taken. I think the first thing and you've touched on this very eloquently, you know, in other podcasts is people need to have an honest conversation first with themselves, and then with their next of kin or their business partner, what's working, what's not working. And I think part of why we never do that. We rarely do that. And we don't do that enough, is that we're a culture about Go, go, go, go go. The only ism that continues to get kudos in the world over is workaholism. Often we see and we hear people talk about, you know, I'm doing like 70 hour weeks and I start out in the morning, I'm doing my you know aerobics class, and then I'm doing it and you know, you just look at it, it just it's like a little rodent on a treadmill running Run, run, run, run, and never taking time, both for like doing the healthy things and resting but also never taking the time and making the time for reflection. And I talk a lot about the metaphor of digestion and absorption. So you know, you digest your food and then you're absorbing the nutrients while you have experiences. And a lot of times the experiences there's no time in between the experiences note and having any time for reflection, absorption planning. And I think it's really a big problem particularly for women, women entrepreneurs who are doing it all and I think it's been in the women's purview to be over caretaking anyway 1/3 of American adults have not caretaking another adult friend or family member in their home on third. It's really in terms of actual caretaker. But besides that we have all the folks that are our parents out there men and women who are doing so much for their children, what would you do for your children, you know, keeping up the home trying to be have do some positive work through your religious institution or political. You know, there's so much to do. There's so much work that needs to be done. But if we ourselves are not healthy and balanced and rested, we won't be able to do do our work as well. So the first thing that I do as a physician, and as a teacher and a lecturer and writer is I always start out by saying, The reason I've been able to do the advocacy work that I do the writing that I've done, the lecturing that I do is that I see patients two or three days a week. So I just want to demystify the idea that I'm doing everything in the days that I work, I work six hour days, not nine or 10 hour days, and I pride myself in not overworking. Now, obviously, that's a very lucky position, I don't have to work a 50 hour week to support myself and my family. So I know that I also, you know, I have other streams of income besides just my practice, so that that helps a lot. But I often will talk to me, like, let's look at your income, you know, is it is it possible for you to take a pay cut and only work four days a week, you know, I strategize with my patients, if it's their own business, you know, what's the next best hire you can make to take off your plate, the thing that you really don't like doing, and takes you away from the parts of it that you love doing and just really brainstorming, I'm not a life coach, but as a physician, for my kind of medicine, there's a piece of that in there, at least to remind people that this is a conversation you need to be having, if you're not with me with someone. And then, you know, for a lot of people who can be honest with themselves, you know, that the main thing comes down to what is your life mission? And you know, whether it's the mission of your company, or your podcasts or your family life? And then how are you organising your projects, your goals, your strategies in order to serve your mission, people that don't have a clarified, you know, sense of what they want to accomplish in life, tend to, you know, meander a bit. And all of this is predicated, and we you know, we talk a lot about the determinants of health, maybe you've read about Maslow's hierarchy. This basically is based on the idea that you have a roof over your head, you have enough income to provide food for the family, you have access to health care, there are some very basics, and I am saying them with a big if, because I know that not everybody. Unfortunately, in this country, we don't do a good job, and making that a level playing field. Yes, for those people who are at that place where you know, they have, were born into it, they worked hard, they had good luck, a lot of its luck, blessings, whatever you want to call it, I would say that the first step is an honest assessment with the people that are on your team. The second thing I always say to people is, you know, you have some stressors in your life. And it's your job to look at what the stressors are, and decide, are there any that you can get rid of. So for instance, if you have a friend that is really, every time you spend time with him afterward, you feel worse, you probably should not be friends with him anymore. And you don't have to make a big announcement and you don't have to send a snarky email, you can just let it float away. And I think a lot of people's energy go in goes into relationships that are not helpful for them, and then pull them down. And then there's all the thinking about it and festering over it and what should I say? So I'm really into helping people identify but for other people, it's that they have, you know, an hour and 20 minute commute on the train each way for their job, and they hate it. Now, some people haven't gone through, they love it, they read they listen to podcasts, they do the crossword puzzle, or they will hate it. Well, if you hate it, is there a way that you can strategize around either looking for new employment, or working from home some days and just really identifying what are the biggest stressors because when we have a stress in our life, we respond to it with symptoms, often, you get the big stress, Oh, I gotta get the big stress on my eczema is acting up that big stress, I got the worst backache in the world. So it's these are things it's not that the stress is unrelated to the way people feel. I was recently at a gathering of a union of sorts with people that I've known for the last, you know, five decades. And everybody you know, that knows what I do. And it basically it was a long line of like, ask Dr. Amy. Why? Because these are people who didn't prioritise themselves and didn't take care of themselves. So like, they started getting overweight in their 30s. And they didn't stop smoking until their 50s. And they really have the drinking picked up in their 40s. Like, what were they expecting when they turned 60? It's almost like people don't appreciate that what you do and how you care for yourself. Today is going to have a direct impact on how you feel, not only tomorrow, but 1020 years later, a recent study came out that said that over 90% of chronic disease 90% of chronic disease is lifestyle preventable. So you know, we know that the number one killer of men and women in America remains heart disease. And the vast majority of heart disease is lifestyle preventable, and if it hasn't gone too far treatable, so I'm really interested in primary prevention getting in with the kids and the teenagers like the choices you're making with that Big Mac, and that big thing is soda at 16, you know, they have a long arm. And I'm not an athlete, and I'm not a I'm don't like to focus on the negative, I'm not interested in taking things away from people. But I'm interested in people understanding that their actions impact their health in a grave, intense, long way playing out over the field of their genetic inheritance. So some people are born, they have very healthy, you know, peasant stock, you know, and they could do anything to themselves, they're still gonna live to be 100. I had a guy coming to me once he was in his 60s, and he had a goal of reaching 110. And he was telling me, he numerated all the incredible things he was doing for himself, you know, this kind of exercise and this diet and his supplements. And yeah, he was so proud of himself. And then I asked him, Well, tell me about, you know, what did people in your family die for? At what age? Well, his father had died at 106. And his mother died at 102. And I said to him, Well, look, it doesn't almost matter what you do, like, you're probably gonna live a very long life, you know what I'm saying? So, you should continue, obviously, to make the right choices. But his genetics were a very strong feature. So for somebody like me, part of why I always lived a healthy lifestyle, even though I did ultimately get cancer was that my dad died young of a heart attack. My mother died young with cancer, I knew my genetics that were not in my favour. Yeah, 62. Now, I feel like okay, I'm well past that, that's great. You know, here we go. And I also feel like, if my cancer ever came back, which I sincerely hope it never does, I will never feel like I didn't do everything possible in my power, to remain healthy and vital and alive from this life that I love, and for my family that I adore. So you know, it's a, it's a, it's a bit of a recipe. And people can pick and choose the ingredients, but making it conscious, making some conscious decisions about the power we have to impact our health is really, you know, my goal as a physician, teacher and a writer.
Paula Shepherd 42:01
Yeah, when people say, I don't have time to take that walk, or exercise or take care of myself, I think ultimately, we have to make that choice, or it's made for us in the form of mental health crises, or some other kind of disease that comes about that kind of puts us on our rear end and makes us have to take the break. And so it's so important right now, and I will be the first one to say, you know, in the beginning of COVID, I know that I should be doing weight training. You know, I had a partial hysterectomy, and, you know, bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, mastectomy, and I don't have the hormones. So there were certain things I should be doing, but I wasn't doing them. Right. And so now, knowing better you do better and taking those incremental movements forward, because I, I know that the odds were stacked against me, and what am I capable of doing? And what choices Am I making, like you said, that, that put me first, and don't put my work first or other people first, because without me, I won't be able to support any of those other people anymore anyhow. And taking care of ourselves is, is kind of it feels counterintuitive. In this society, where especially as women, we are supposed to be the caregivers, we are supposed to sacrifice ourselves, we're supposed to have a thicker skin, we're supposed to just like push through it. But there are definitely moments where it is necessary. And I want to say now, that's every single day for me to take that time to reflect. Otherwise, I do wind up up in my head, thinking about all the things that create the anxiety that make me feel like I can't move and then ultimately affect whether or not I'm going to take the walk for that day.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 44:00
Right. And two points that I would dovetail with what you just said, the first one is that, you know, when we do the right things, when we make the right choice, you know, the right choice, we're all just when we make the right choices. We're modelling that for the other people in our lives, men and women, particularly for our daughters, and young women who are looking up to us in the same industry. We are modelling that I take that very seriously. There's nothing I recommend in my book that I don't do myself, you know what I'm like, I wouldn't ask somebody to do those things. If if I didn't miss out or at least try them if when relevant, then everything in the book is not pertinent obviously to my own case, but I also would like to say that your body, your mind, your spirit, your cognitive capacity, it reflects the habitual, not the occasional. So you have to live. Treats are an important part of life. days off are important from everything. And as long as the habitual the things you do day in, day out the routines are are good enough, big fan of good enough? Yes, then the occasional ice cream cone on a hot summer day is not going to give anybody cancer. It's just it just won't mean we have to, or any other bad disease, we have to be reasonable. And I think that some people go can go overboard, trying to do everything, everything, everything basically driving themselves and everybody around them a little bit crazy. So a lot of people come to me, they say, you know, and I would say I see three kinds of patients across the medical diagnosis landscape, I see people who live in natural lifestyle, and they want their doctor to reflect that kind of approach to living. I see some people who are they have failed conventional treatment, I don't mean necessarily in the cancer world, but just in general, they don't tolerate drugs, well, the drugs don't either don't work for them, or they don't work well enough, and they give them side effects. Those are people that will seek out our care. The third kind of person that comes to me has no idea what I do. They have not they're not educated in which is fine. They know somebody who came to me because their kid had chronic ear aches or chronic sinusitis, or they they were on the autistic spectrum or what have you, and their kid got better can you do it to my kid, they literally come in, just I have faith in you because you help somebody else that I know. And that's not changed in 36 years of practice that that breakdown of who comes to me, and I personally love that mix. Because it is you know, it is a very varied I love having different kinds of patients. I don't want to hold practice filled with patients and having a cancer. I like a variety. But there are I did not mention earlier, the naturopathic profession has a number of specialty organisations. And one of them is called the Oncology Association of naturopathic physicians on camp, they have a website, they people who are any naturopathic doctor can be a member on camp, but you can be board certified through on camp with and that degree is called a fab No, is the fellow of the American Board of naturopathic oncology. And that is the people who have that fab no designation, have done extra training in integrative oncology, and have done extra continuing education programming. And there is a registry, and a find a doc app on the on Camp website. So that's something to really look at, they also keep a wonderful database on all of the studies that have been done on natural and integrative approaches to all different kinds of cancer prevention and treatment. So that's a terrific resource for your listeners. It's on Camp, o n C, a MP on camp on Camp.
Paula Shepherd 47:41
Okay, we will make sure that we link that in the show notes.
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 47:45
Before. On that note, I will say if people go to my website, Dr. Amy rothenburg.com. I have a resources page where you can click on the on campaign, but many other resource says that people might be interested in actually update that all the time.
Paula Shepherd 47:59
Okay, perfect. So I was gonna say, we can find you on your website at Dr. Amy rothenberg.com. I'll link all of that in the show notes. You also have a Facebook page. So you can find Dr. Amy there and she has an Instagram profile and a LinkedIn profile. So wherever you are hanging out, you can connect with her. But before we end this, I want to make sure that everyone knows where they can get your book, you finished treatment. Now what a field guide for cancer survivors, what is the best place for them to purchase it
Dr. Amy Rothenberg 48:28
very much. I'm happy to share that. And people can also follow me on Twitter, which I it's as a person in my 60s, you know, I'm not native to the whole tech world. But I I'm jumping in with two feet. And I've been involved for a long time I was an early blogger for The Huffington Post, I had an early blog called filter natural medicine. So you know, I'm not totally backward in that regard. The book can be found anywhere that you buy books. So the book is available hardback softback ebook, and the audio book will be coming out later this month. So that I'm very excited about that. I read the whole book for Audible, and so it's it's quite part of their lives. But you can buy it out an Amazon, you can buy it on Barnes and Noble. I am encouraging people to access the book on another website, which is called indiebound. Yeah, di e bound one word indiebound indiebound will ask you for your zip code. And they will tell you the independent, usually smaller bookstores in you know in your area, you know within 10 miles or you can set it to 25 miles. And then you can order the book from those independent bookstores books. Now, you know, I did get a box from my publisher but most of the books are printed on demand. And you can order them from any of those big places, but you can go to the independent bookstores same thing and they will be mailed to you or you can pick it up there. And I will also say that I am very interested in doing other podcasts being into Hold on radio or TV, happy to come to your book group or your cancer support group to talk, I really want to spend the next six months or so promoting the book, I feel like this is essential information for people to impact quality life and health outcomes that is not available readily. And what's out there is overwhelming. I boil it down for people. I try to make it accessible and fun. There's some there's some funny stories in this book about my own path, I try to keep it a little bit light. Because this subject can get kind of heavy. And I just also want to wish everybody excellent health.
Paula Shepherd 50:35
Thank you so much for being here and just sharing all of your knowledge. I'm really excited about the book. I know it's gonna make a difference in so many people's lives. You're talking about things that so many don't even discuss in ways that really make you such a thought leader. So thank you again for being here, Dr. Amy, check in with the shownotes go buy her book, anywhere books are sold and definitely connect with her on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, all the or all of the places. Thanks again for being here. And I will see you next week on another episode of The confidence session. Thank you for listening to this episode of the competent sessions. I know there are hundreds of 1000s of podcasts and I'm so grateful that you chose to spend your time today with me. Head on over to the courage blueprint.com forward slash podcast to check out the show notes from today's episode and grab links to all the amazing goodies mentioned today. If you love this episode, as much as I loved making it, make sure you don't miss out on any future ones by hitting the subscribe button right now. See you next time.