Integrated cancer care provided at Inspire Health combines natural approaches with traditional medical care.
When Bob Wiens retired in 2005 at age 58, he had some specific goals in mind. He’d pursue his love of fitness and go on to run marathons, ignite his passion for music and take guitar lessons, and practise his high-school French to the point of being able to have a fluent conversation.
After having worked in the high-pressure field of finance at the executive level for 34 years, Wiens wasn’t about to let his golden years go to waste.
Sometimes the best laid plans get derailed, however, as the affable British Columbia resident can attest. In 2007, following an abnormal result on a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, he was diagnosed with cancer.
The disease was caught in its early stages but was said to be aggressive. Wiens attended a local support group where he learned about a place in Vancouver called InspireHealth, the only publicly funded integrated cancer care facility in Canada.
The centre is staffed by medical doctors and offers the services of a variety of natural health practitioners, including a naturopath, massage therapist, and acupuncturist. No referral is needed to see a physician.
Wiens admits at first he was somewhat skeptical of the centre’s approach—some of it sounded a bit “woo-woo,” he concedes—but says he was won over by the staff members’ unshakable belief in the interconnectedness of body, mind, and soul, and their commitment to the healing power of that trinity.
After attending a casual and welcoming information session, Wiens and his wife of 33 years immediately signed up for the centre’s two-day Life program, which gives an overview of integrated care: its philosophy and practical applications.
“I couldn’t even believe there was such a place,” Wiens says in an interview with alive. “The thing that convinced me was learning about the link between mind and body. The more I read, the more I understood our ability to have an influence over our health, that we create stresses all by ourselves and can restrict the body from healing itself.”
Wiens wasn’t completely shocked to learn he had prostate cancer. His father had the disease as well, and family history increases a man’s risk.
Making a choice
After researching his condition and exploring his treatment options, Wiens chose a new approach called high-intensity focused ultrasound, a minimally invasive technique that destroys cancerous tissue. He had the procedure at a private clinic in Toronto in January 2008 and is relieved to say he’s in remission.
Because of InspireHealth, there was much more to overcoming cancer than subjecting his prostate to targeted ultrasound beams, however.
Wien’s initial visit with a doctor at the clinic entailed a comprehensive 90-minute session that covered aspects such as his health history, diet, exercise regimen, and emotional and spiritual well-being.
Following this, he met with InspireHealth’s exercise therapist. Already interested in fitness, he became even more dedicated to regular physical activity. He has since run marathons, finished his first triathlon last year at age 62, and plans to race more.
He met with a nutritionist and made lasting changes to his diet: no more red meat, dairy, or caffeine. He now drinks rooibos tea and regularly reads food labels, making sure to avoid saturated and trans fats, preservatives, and additives.
He also began meditating, learning to bring deep relaxation into his daily life.
Integrating the best of both
For Wiens, part of the centre’s appeal is the way its practitioners provide guidance on how to safely integrate natural approaches with conventional medical treatments. It was important to him that staff there show support for his choices and communicate with other members of his health care team.
Wiens, who for years volunteered for charitable organizations and now helps out at InspireHealth, credits the integrated care centre for his newfound faith in the tremendous power within.
“InspireHealth has had such an impact on my life: the importance of diet, the commitment to exercise, coming to understand the protection your own immune system can give you, and taking responsibility for your own health,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful part of
“I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life,” Wiens adds. “I’ve learned about the role we play in our own healing. It’s about taking control of your life.”