In this episode, patient, Jenny Bradley sits down with Dr. Lucas and asks some of the hard hitting questions when it comes to cancer.
Jenny is the founder of Shrink the Mutant School where she teaches courses for cancer patients and their friends. You can aslo find her at @shrinkthemutant on Instagram, where she shares helpfultips and has awesome interviews with some of Integrative Oncology’s top experts.
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Jenny Bradley: Hi, and welcome to the Riordan clinic, Real Health Podcast. My name is Jenny Bradley, and I’m a patient of Riordan clinic, and I’ve been a patient of Dr. Lucas Tims for gosh, about four years now, I think, and today this podcast is a little bit different because I have the honor and the privilege of giving the patient perspective and asking questions to our integrative oncologist, Dr. Lucas from the Overland park office. So with that in mind, hello, Dr. Lucas, how are you doing today?
Dr. Lucas: Doing fantastic. Happy Friday
Jenny: Happy Friday to you as well. Okay, so you have been a practitioner here with Riordan clinic since 2018. And before that I know that you’ve already had a podcast where we’ve shared more of your background, but really quickly for those people that haven’t heard that. Can you tell us a little bit about what integrative oncology is and how you came to Riordan clinic?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah, just briefly. I’m a naturopathic physician and a board certified naturopathic oncology had been in practice about 12 years. And I did my training at Southwest college of Naturopathic medicine, did a two-year hospital-based oncology focused residency at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, spent about six years with them after my residency working all the way up to, you know, medical director of integrative oncology there. And then in 2018 kind of started a new chapter, joined the Riordan clinic here in Overland park, and it really had been focusing on you know, all things integrative oncology since then. Pretty much my whole career has been oncology focused. Integrative oncology is basically the, the medical specialty that looks to bridge the gap between conventional cancer treatment and more alternative or holistic approaches. And so that’s a very wide umbrella term and there’s a lot of different that might describe it differently, but that’s basically the essence of it.
Jenny: Great. Thank you for sharing that. So why would somebody want to choose an integrative approach? I think a lot of times people think of it like, well, I have a doctor, I have an oncologist. Why would I need to add somebody else to that team?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think that’s a lot of times when I’m first meeting with patients, you know, even though they’re coming to us because they know they need something beyond just standard of care, they’re like, well, you know, what can you really add to what I’m already doing? And so I tell patients that, you know, your standard of care treatments are, they are what they are. They’re very focused on the disease itself, which obviously with cancer being a life-threatening disease in most cases, you have to focus on the disease, but it’s, it’s missing the bigger holistic picture of what’s going on in that person’s body. And I try to get them thinking along the lines of, you know, this cancer is a, it’s basically a signal that your body’s telling you that there’s something unhealthy, there’s an unhealthy environment going on. And we have to get to the root of what’s causing that. The analogy I like to use as sort of a yard full of weeds. Weeds are kind of like the cancer what’s showing on the surface, but underneath that you’ve got soil issues. And that, and really what integrative oncology is about is how do we protect the soil while we’re maybe doing toxic treatments to kill the weeds, but then long-term, how do we build back the soil so that it’s healthier, stronger and less hospitable have a place for weeds to grow moving forward?
Jenny: I think a lot of people cancer patients think that if they start working with a naturopathic or integrative oncologists, that it means that they need to divorce themselves from conventional care. Do you want to address that a little bit? As far as are you somebody that says, okay, you can stop going to your conventional oncologist.
Dr. Lucas: Couldn’t be further from the, from the truth. I oftentimes am having, I’m the one that’s actually referring patients to conventional traditional oncologists because they either haven’t seen one yet or, or have been afraid to go down that road for whatever reason. And so I think that no number one, I’m I try to bridge that gap, try to understand that patient or try to help patients understand that your best outcome, 99% of the time is going to come from bridging the two together in terms of blending them and finding what works now, does that mean that you do everything to a T what the standard of care might recommend? No, not always. I think there’s a lot of cases where patients are mismanaged. Over-Treated sometimes undertreated or they’re utilizing tools that might not be in their best interest based on what we’re seeing is going on in their individual terrain. It tends to be more of a cookie cutter approach, and that’s why I think we tend to run into those issues. And so we can help patients again, navigate the traditional side, but we’re not trying to dissuade patients from doing traditional oncology approaches. I just flat out tell them most of the time, it’s just not going to be enough. I don’t have anything against those treatments, but most of the time they’re just not enough.
Jenny: And I would say I’m one of those patients that actually there’s less, that conventional oncology can offer me. And so really having you on my team has been one of the key factors and me being able to thrive and live with cancer since my diagnosis in 2017. So I appreciate that you help bridge the gap and you bring alongside my team, if you will, a whole other set of tools that conventional oncology doesn’t even have to offer me. So that’s very helpful. I appreciate that. Thank you. Okay. I’m going to get to kind of bam, heart of the matter for brand new potential patients. There’s a lot of questions around why does integrative oncology or naturopathic oncology? Why does something like this cost so much and why do you not take insurance? So I know that’s a system wide question for this particular clinic, but can you address that a little bit of how do patients deal with the kind of sticker shock?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah, well, this is, this is unfortunately the model that we’ve been sort of forced into from a medical standpoint over the last 50 to 60 years where it’s really, you know, medicine has become one of, if not the biggest businesses and industries in our country and around the world. You know, between not just the doctors, which, you know, I think a lot of patients are starting to understand that the doctors aren’t, the ones making all the money. It’s, it’s the insurance companies, it’s the pharmaceutical companies and it’s these big corporate sort of healthcare systems. And so that’s our insurance model, you know, people’s insurance premiums continue to go up and they get less and less for it. And it becomes a very much a rationed care type of system because we’ve mismanaged it from a financial standpoint. Our government has, and these for-profit entities are basically milking every penny they can out of it, cause they answer to shareholders. So that’s, what’s wrong with the traditional system. And this is why you’ve seen integrative medicine separate themselves from that system, because in order to do integrative medicine, it doesn’t fit into that, you know, five minute visit, get the patients in and out, see 45, 50 patients a day. You can’t do integrative medicine like that. So we had to create separate model, which meant removing ourselves from the insurance-based approaches, because the only way you can make, you can stay alive in business as a clinic doing insurance-based medicine is to see 50 patients a day and spend about three to five minutes with them.
Jenny: Yeah. So in my case, too, as someone who has been your patient, one of the things that I feel blessed by with being aired in clinic patient is that you and the other practitioners as well here at Riordan spend enormous amounts of time with us. So, and by the way, yeah, by the way, just for the listener, I’m not getting compensated in any way to do this podcast or say these things. So that’s just my like pure, honest take on things. If I’m remembering correctly, like a, the first time new patient appointment with the doctor is 90 minutes and then follow up type of appointments, you know, we can go anywhere from ordering a 15 minute appointments to 30 to 45, an hour longer, whatever it needs to be. And a lot of that time is spent, you know, really conversing with the patient and understanding them, but also really going over lab work. And we do a lot more lab work here as patients than a lot of other, like in typical conventional places. So I think that’s also a part of the model here that I would love for you to share with potential new patients is what, what does that new patient 90 minute, first time consultation really look like? And what all are you going over? And what does that first follow up going over?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah, typically, I mean, speaking from my end where I’m mainly working with cancer patients it’s we’re spending, you know, 90 minutes, although we’ve started moving more towards cause we get patients that come from all over the country and actually all over the world we’ve truly become a global clinic, which is kind of cool. We’ve got patients coming in from, you know, Europe and Africa south America. So I get people that reach out to me and they’re like, you know, I’m in another country and I can’t come see you or, you know, I wish I was there in the U S and I’m like, well, we actually have had people that have come. And so you know, if you’re looking, if you’re looking for good care, sometimes you’ve got to travel, unfortunately. And so but yeah, typically I would say patients that come in person for their first visit, or we’re spending 90 minutes with them, if we do a virtual second opinion consult, which we do with some of our out of town patients just to kind of get on the same page, get their history so that when they do come, we have a plan for while they’re here. But typically, yeah, 60 to 90 minute intake appointment get all full history get an idea of where we might want to start with our terrain based testing.
Dr. Lucas: We do have a number of different lab panels that we’ll depending on the history. So we may do just a basic cancer panel for some of our patients. We may add on environmental toxin screening, we may add on things like stool testing or circulating tumor cell tests. And so that all will get figured out in that first visit. Therapies that we’re typically starting right away, you know, are, are the backbone of all of our protocols here is IV vitamin C. So we’re typically doing that with our patients right away. Mistletoe is a therapy that I use with a lot of my patients. So we typically are getting patients started on that. And then, you know, unfortunately the labs do take a few weeks to come back. And so during that time, we’re usually focused on getting their IV vitamin C and mistletoe therapies sort of ramped up and getting them up to their therapeutic target ranges with those. And then once we see the labs, that’s when we really can get all the information out on the table and start to build a really strategic and customized plan for them. Because I tell patients all the time, I can line up 10 patients that are your exact age, your exact diagnosis, everything to a T in terms of what the traditional oncologists will look at. We do our lab testing. Every, every one of those patients is going to look different in terms of what their terrain is what’s happening underneath the surface. So to take that cookie cutter approach of, oh, you’ve got breast cancer you’re, you know, you’re in your forties, you’re estrogen positive no family history you’ve, you know, you’re at this stage and just take that information and say, okay, we’re going to build a treatment plan. That’s not enough for us. We actually need to do that deeper dive to figure out, okay, those things are all on the surface, but what’s driving this process underneath and we may find environmental toxins. We may find immune dysfunction. We may find hormone, hormone problems, nutrient deficiencies metabolic dysfunction, and any, any combination of those. And so that’s really what we’re going after is the soil, the terrain, and what’s going on underneath all of the cancer stuff.
Jenny: What’d you say that you have any patients that are just clear-cut cases?
Dr. Lucas: Very few, a very few kind of so-called slam dunks. I had a patient recently, a young guy with testicular cancer which is a disease mostly of younger men. And, you know, the, the chemo cure rate with testicular cancer, if it’s caught early enough is like 98%. So that was a slam dunk. I mean, we found a few issues you know, underneath the surface that he needed to deal with. But I think within six months, we pretty much felt like he could move on with his life. And, you know, there weren’t like really deep rooted issues that we had to deal with, but those are few and far between that might be one in every 50 patients that I see.
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Jenny: Okay. So you’re talking about deep rooted issues and being able to quote unquote, move on with their life, like you just said. So one of the things that I hear from my fellow cancer patients, whether it’s sitting next to them in our lovely Riordan clinic recliners during IVs or another setting there’s a lot of patients that do, you know, they have their surgery, they ring the bell after they finished chemo, they do the X, Y, and Z that was recommended to them in a different system. And then they’re told they’re cancer-free, but lo and behold, a few months later, they get information that shows that they’re not actually cancer-free anymore. And it’s like, they’re going through a brand new cancer patient diagnosis again, and the complete shock and awe of it. So can you talk a little bit about what do we need to do after those moments of quote, unquote, finishing our therapies? What do we need to do to whether it’s track our health or, you know, continue to reduce our risks for recurrence?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah. I mean, just a loaded question there, but, and it can take many forms to base on it, but this is where that deeper dive and looking at the, underneath the surface, that’s traditionally where we’re doing our work is like, yeah, once patients, if their cancer was caught early enough and they did get to that, maybe no evidence of disease state or, or quote unquote cured state, then that’s when we really want to do a deep dive on some of those underlying issues, whether it’s detoxing them from glyphosate or mold or heavy metals and trying to kind of put them back together, because to me, if you had cancer and you went through the traditional treatments and it came back, you didn’t address the underlying issue. I mean, that’s just point blank. And so that’s where traditional medicine really, you know, doesn’t go that extra step to figure out, okay, what’s that deeper layer. What’s that deep rooted issue that we need to address? They’re just not that model’s not set up for that. So that’s really case in point why you need to work with an integrative oncologist or someone that understands the connection between the terrain and the weeds. And, and do that long-term fix. And like I said, for some people that might be a three to six month, you know fix other people, it could be years, you know, mean cancer doesn’t form overnight the soil conditions or terrain problems, don’t form overnight. Either some of these things go back to childhood. And so it just, we never know until we kind of get our hands in there and kind of see what that soil condition looks like what we’re going to have to work on and what that timeline might look might look like.
Dr. Lucas: And then you’ve got all kinds of other variables in terms of how committed are the patients are they, you know, do they listen to, and actually execute the plan that you want them to do? Most of our patients are pretty self-motivated because if they’re coming to us in the first place, they know that they need to be doing this work. But you know, sometimes patients it’s a lot, you know, healing takes a lot of effort and addressing these underlying issues takes a lot of effort. And you have to, there’s going to be days where you don’t feel like doing this stuff, and there’s going to be days where you just want to go back to old habits or, you know, whatever you want to crawl up in a ball. I mean, it’s not easy stuff, it’s not for everybody. But to me, that’s where I’ve seen patients really get to that point where it all makes sense is when we work on those underlying issues and some people have it’s quicker than others, but that’s the work that has to be done in the end. And, you know, patients aren’t willing to do the work. Then I tell them, you know, that we might not be a good fit.
Jenny: Yeah. I like to say that healing happens at home and really you are a guide that can give me recommendations and a menu, if you will, right? Like you can give me a menu of what I can do throughout the week to help support my body in healing. But really I’m the one that day by day is doing the work of it. But I can’t figure that out myself and I don’t want to DIY this stuff. So I need a guide. I need somebody like you to help me know what the best thing is to do and to lean in and trust your expertise and to trust the training and education and the continuing education that you and the other practitioners at Riordan do. And so I think all those things combined kind of give a little bit more of a, an understanding of why the reared appointments take so long in a good way. And, you know, when people hear that sticker shock or have sticker shock with what an initial like oncology program costs here, it’s because all of these things are so important and it all adds up in a good way to helping support our bodies and healing and giving us that like really personalized menu to go home with.
Dr. Lucas: I mean, I I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve yet to have one patient tell me you know, that was a waste of money. I haven’t heard it once. I mean, we hear the opposite all the time is that, gosh, if anything, we here, I wish I would have done this first, or I wish I would’ve done this earlier. You know, why didn’t I know about this? Nobody told me this is the best money I’ve ever spent on my health to understand what’s actually going on in their body because that information is it’s priceless. It really is.
Jenny: Yes. I say yes. And amen to that. Okay. For this episode, let’s kind of end on this note here. So with that idea of, you know, having a menu to do at home, if you will, and finishing up other therapies in the standard system, what are things that you help patients do as far as testing and assessing after conventional therapies are finished?
Dr. Lucas: Well, we, you know, we look at again, based on that initial soil testing that we do, we identify what their issues are, what their markers are for those issues, whether it’s nutrient levels or drivers of inflammation. We have certain bio cancer biomarkers. We have circulating tumor cells. So we have a lot of ways that we can keep an eye besides just patients waiting for their next scan, right. Or they might have one blood marker that their oncologist is watching, but to be honest, those aren’t always reliable. And it may be by the time those are elevated, it may be too late. And so we want to be as proactive as possible. So we, we know that if we get the terrain and the soil to a great environment, a good condition, we’re not going to go down that cancer road again. And so we work on getting all those things ironed out. And typically the first six to 12 months, we’re following up with patients pretty regularly, either monthly or every other month doing labs for them and making sure that whatever goals we’re working on, that the labs are, are moving in that right direction for them. And so that’s where, you know, it’s we test, we don’t, we don’t guess, you know, we, we are very driven by making sure that the labs and the markers in the blood and the urine or whatever we’re doing are actually giving us that positive feedback that what we’re doing clinically is working.
Jenny: Great. Thanks for taking the time with us today and sharing a little bit more about your insight and behind the scenes of the Riordan clinic, integrative oncology program.
Dr. Lucas: My pleasure. Great talking with you, Jenny.
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