CARER Program – Holistic healing for cancer patients

Cancer is the end of the road…we live with this presumption and immediately associate the disease with death itself. It’s not true. Cancer is a physical manifestation of what’s wrong with the body on a deeper level. We spoke to Samara Mahindra – holistic health coach and the founder of CARER Program that offers therapies to cancer patients for post treatment rehabilitation.

Samara Mahindra, Founder – CARER Program

What is the CARER Program all about?
The CARER Program is an integrated and holistic cancer recovery and rehabilitation program. We focus on holistic and complimentary treatments that help in bringing down the side-effects of treatment, increasing the efficiency of the treatment as well as decreasing the chances of relapse. The treatment mainly comprises of diet and nutrition, movement therapy, little bit of counselling and coaching, and meditation. We work alongside the mainstream treatment and also have post treatment program.

What inspired you to start this program?
I was always interested in the field of health and well-being. The reason I got into the specific field of oncology is because my mother was diagnosed with cancer over 10 years ago and unfortunately we lost her. Back then there were no such facilities and programs in place.

Does CARER focus on a certain kind of Cancer?
We focus on all types of cancer. Our main aim is to build immunity. What happens in cancer is that the mainstream treatment which is predominantly chemotherapy, radiation or surgery deal with the physical symptoms that cancer manifests in the body. We kind of dig deep down to find why cancer actually came up. We go deeper than what kind of cancer it’s showing physically.

Do the healing techniques and nutrition plans differ based on the type of cancer?
Hundred per cent; everything is very personalized. Each one of our specialists has personalized approach to each cancer client. We might have two people with same kind of cancer as defined in medical terms, but our approach to both will differ. We look at both the clients as two completely different individuals with completely different DNA makeup and different ways of life.

Are your therapists specifically trained in the field of oncology?
It has taken me about three years to build a team of specialists. When I moved back to India I worked with Tata Memorial Hospital to understand health care in India. When I decided to do something in the field of cancer and went on a lookout for specialists I realised that there were very few of them. There were hardly any nutritionists who were trained for cancer or had worked with cancer patients. Even for yoga, it was difficult to find therapists for CARER. We needed someone who could assess the client’s cancer and create a protocol to fit that client’s case. Every one of our specialists – be it clinical nutritionist, yoga therapist, or coaches are trained to work specifically for cancer. Now we’re in the process of creating our own CARER therapists for different movement therapies including yoga, training for which will be done in house.

What’s the best time for cancer patients to come to CARER?
The best time to come to CARER would be as soon as you are diagnosed. We also have clients who do not opt for medical treatment so that’s ok too. All our treatments are scientifically proven and they already exist in some of the best cancer institutes in the world. We just emulated that and made them for people in India where we provide these therapies in the homes of the clients. We come to your home and create a six month schedule after figuring out what you require the most for example there are a few clients who are so emotionally distressed that there’s no point creating diet plan for them till we figure out what’s happening to them mentally.

What are some of the common misconceptions or mistakes people battling the disease and their families make?
One of the biggest thing I’ve found, and my family and I fell prey to it too, is to leave everything in the hands of the doctors. We’re scared to ask questions and we treat doctors as godly figures. Yes, we have doctors who are phenomenal but honestly there are lot of options out there which go alongside the mainstream treatment and don’t have to fall under the alternative treatment space. Another thing is complete lack of knowledge of what cancer is. There’s such a misconception about it that cancer means end of life. It’s not true. The more we’re dealing with cancer the more it’s moving into chronic disease space which can be dealt with like heart disease or diabetes. Once you understand cancer and understand why it showed up in your body, it’s completely in your control to heal it.

What according to you needs to change in how we are treating the illness and the people suffering from it?
The mindset that should change is that it’s karma or bad luck. It’s not true. It happens because something went wrong with the system and cancer is a way of your body telling you that something is not right, fix me. What should change is I think changing very slowly. What we do at CARER is actually bringing that change. We’re working with the mainstream treatment to provide an integrated approach to healing. You cannot just fix something physically and not expect it to relapse later. Its body, mind and soul; you have to treat your body as a whole. A lot of people who go through cancer are very emotionally disturbed and it could be stemming from there as well. And it’s important to deal with the root cause. We’re pushing that with CARER and there’s been an immense positive response. Holistic healing is the answer.

A few tips you can give to people battling cancer.
One of the most important tips that I give my every client is to tell them to get off the internet. No self-diagnosing, no self-prognosing and no self-healing. People tend to get on the internet and it is a scary space. I have seen people imbibe a strong sense of fear just by getting on the internet. And we don’t know where this information is coming from, what’s the source. So, on the surface level I would say ban the internet. But on a more serious note in terms of healing I would say if you’re going through cancer please focus on boosting your immunity. That’s the most important thing. Now we’re in a bit of catch 22 because cancer erupts in a chronically suppressed system. Conventional treatment suppresses immunity even further with serious side effects, it is toxic. What we need to do is to deal with the collateral damage. To boost immunity you have to be very careful with what you are putting in your system – the kind of food you are eating, how are you treating your mind, how are you managing the stress levels, and definitely movement. All of this is related to healing. So start changing your lifestyle as soon as you are diagnosed with cancer.

Do you prescribe a routine and diet to people after the program is over?
When we provide the clients with the program we make them sign up for the clinical nutritionist for at least two months. The diet plan is not extreme. It’s personalized but easy to follow. It has certain food combinations, certain kinds of food to be eaten at certain times. It’s all about alkalizing the system. The idea for CARER is not to come for six months and leave. The idea is to teach them in those six months how to live for the rest of their lives. So we’re not a quick fix and that’s what we tell our clients. Cancer has been in their body for at least 5-6 years so it’s not going to be fine in six months. It’s complete lifestyle shift so that they don’t get cancer again or any other illness. That’s why the coaching part is very important where we don’t just give them the therapy but also teach them so that when we leave after six months they are knowledgeable about how to live the rest of their lives.

Coaching the family members is an important aspect too. They’re equally lost and helpless in the situation. We do at least 2-3 sessions with them to give them the right information on how to manage the situation better.

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