A Journey of Healing: Dr. Lawrence Chan’s Cancer StoryStories, Wellness, Health
Dr. Chan’s interest lies in preventative and functional medicine, stemming from his personal upbringing and multidisciplinary medical background. This became a philosophical foundation known as the “integrative model of health” which brings together the best of conventional and alternative medicine in patient care.
Throughout this blog you will see bolded words. These words will link you to Dr. Chan's personal newsletters that were emailed throughout his journey to keep friends and patients up to date. There was such positive feedback about the content of these newsletters that we wanted to share them with you too.
The DiscoveryIn May 2023, Dr. Chan received an unexpected diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, specifically Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). The cancer diagnosis came with no symptoms or signs of illness. After over 40 years of professional practice with only a handful of sick days, this was a true surprise for Dr. Chan and his medical doctors. Preventative care through regular medical assessment and testing was key to catching and diagnosing Dr. Chan’s change in health as early as possible.
Diagnosis and Initial ReactionsFollowing the announcement of Dr. Chan’s diagnosis, the outpouring of love, support and warm wishes was overwhelming. After providing care to patients for several decades, it was time to start his personal journey as a patient undergoing cancer care.
A treatment plan was laid out by the BC Cancer Agency for six rounds of chemotherapy spaced over a few months’ time. This would be paired with alternative cancer therapies available at Integrative which included high-dose IV therapy sessions, supplementation, acupuncture, nutrition support and neurofeedback sessions. The combination of conventional and alternative therapies is known as therapeutic synergy, which means the combined effect is greater than the sum. Leveraging the best available testing and treatments from both areas of medicine increases positive patient outcomes.
The Treatment JourneyDr. Chan’s chemotherapy treatment began in July at the BC Cancer Agency. Although at a unique juncture in his health, he celebrated his seventieth birthday in great spirits with the Integrative team and his family in August. An important life milestone came at the perfect time to put some pep back into Dr. Chan’s step as chemotherapy was underway.
Amidst the backdrop of his cancer treatment, Dr. Chan held fast to a profound understanding: the mind and body are inextricably linked. Unable to follow his usual exercise regime, Dr. Chan revised his activities and tailored them to better align with his current abilities. He continued his daily practice of Tai Chi and Meditation, both of which are ancient disciplines that can support not only physical strength, but also foster mental resilience to navigate the cancer journey.
One of the cornerstones of Dr. Chan's individualized treatment plan was regular acupuncture with Dr. Karen Lam, a therapy that played a pivotal role in reducing or even eliminating the common side effects of cancer treatment such as nausea, mood imbalances, pain, inflammation and more.
One of the most unpleasant side effects Dr. Chan experienced during chemotherapy was nausea, which often made taking supplements or eating meals a complex challenge. In addition, patients undergoing chemotherapy can lose their sense of taste and smell which can make even their favourite foods unappealing. Dr. Chan worked closely with our Holistic Nutritionist to create a meal plan to support his current nutritional needs and limitations.
Dr. Chan took a brief break from Cancer treatment in September to enjoy a holiday with his family to visit Italy. This trip allowed for not only a physical break from chemotherapy treatment, but a mental break from the heaviness that can come with cancer diagnosis. We cannot stress enough the importance of taking care of the mind while also tending to the body through illness and disease.
Upon his return from Italy, he completed his sixth and final session of chemotherapy. The next step in his treatment plan was to allow a few weeks for the final session to take effect followed by a PET Scan to assess next steps. The results of this scan came with cause for celebration – Dr. Chan was diagnosed cancer free in December 2023.
Emotional and Psychological StrugglesAs discussed earlier in this blog, it became evident early on in Dr. Chan’s cancer journey that his support system was going to be key to a positive outcome. However, one of the most challenging side effects for Dr. Chan particularly was "chemo brain" or brain fog.
Chemo brain is a term used to describe the cognitive changes that some cancer patients experience during and after chemotherapy. It can manifest as memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of mental fogginess. For someone who has always taken pride in their mental clarity and sharpness like Dr. Chan, chemo brain was incredibly frustrating and disorienting.
Utilizing NeurOptimal® at Integrative with Carol Sutcliffe, Dr. Chan was able to prevent, support and treat the cognitive effects of chemotherapy. This non-invasive 60-minute treatment is engineered to support the brain’s natural tendency to self-regulate and repair. Dr. Chan took us behind the scenes during one of his sessions with Carol to provide a closer look at NeurOptimal® in action.
Hope and Support SystemHaving treated hundreds of patients with cancer in the past, Dr. Chan was a big advocate for leaning on community, family, and friends during periods of poor health. Experiencing this firsthand was eye-opening and not only enhanced Dr. Chan’s understanding of his patients’ experience, but also allowed him to realize the true power support can have during the cancer journey.
His greatest strength during this time was his family’s support including his wife, Suelina, daughters, Alex and Lawren, and son, Ronin. His favourite therapy dog, Kenji, was also by his side to keep his spirits bright following treatment sessions. On his most challenging days, he found positivity in the cards, emails, notes, and funny gifts he received from friends, colleagues, and patients.
Reflection and GratitudeSo, what comes next on Dr. Chan’s journey? His focus moving into 2024 will be on rebuilding the foundations of health back into his routine. This includes treatments and therapies that will support detoxification of any remaining chemotherapy as well as strengthening the immune system and overall vitality.
Regular health monitoring can be the biggest factor in catching and diagnosing cancers early, the same goes for monitoring cancer recurrence. Dr. Chan will run regular testing with his medical team at BC Cancer Agency, but also through the Integrative Lab via the Research Genetics Cancer Center (RGCC). RGCC offers tests that analyze your genetic profile to gain insights into your cancer cells allowing for an entirely individualized cancer treatment.
In 2024 we will take a further look at how we use testing, nutrition and intermittent fasting, IV therapy, acupuncture, exercise, meditation, neurofeedback and more to treat patients post cancer treatment as well as updates on Dr. Chan’s progress. Make sure to subscribe to Dr. Chan’s personal health newsletter for updates in the new year.
Integrative and its practitioners play an important role in patients’ health journeys, and this year taught us that you too can play an important role in ours. Your unwavering support and kindness this year are deeply appreciated.