Exclusive: Patricia Peat on integrative oncology care

Hi Patricia, you’ve done quite a bit of activity with ANP – what has your experience of ANP been so far?

This will be my 4th event with ANP and honestly it’s been great. I’ve enjoyed it so much because I’ve done a lot of talks over the years with different people. What is refreshing about the ANP crowd is that their energy and how they are really engaged with the talk and the questions they ask! As a speaker, it’s great to have an enthusiastic audience. I really felt the enthusiasm from the practitioners for the subject, and their thirst for knowledge about integrative cancer care was great. I wanted to not only get across the research, facts and my experience, but to give the ANP audience the confidence to work in this area. Sometimes the system puts practitioners off or scares them, but we can prove that this is the future of cancer care.

In the nutrition world you are known as being an expert in oncology and cancer care. Can you tell us how you became specialised in this area?

My background is actually as an oncology nurse working for the NHS, and I’ve done a fair bit of palliative care, too. I’ve come across patients with all sorts of issues, encountering all sorts of problems. My big concern at the time was that people were trying to access information in order to help themselves. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, so this was a long time ago. First of all, when they asked questions about nutrition, I had no answers whatsoever, and then I found the system was actually putting them off looking for their own answers, and belittling their efforts to do so. I was seeing the positive results of my patients who were integrative and changing their diets. So I started to research and research, and work with a lot of people, and clinics around the world. Then I started to bring the information together with my background, and look at how this all fits for people to use. It’s been an interesting journey.

You are speaking at our next ANP event in London; what will you be covering as part of your talk?

Probably not nearly as much as I’d like to!  What I’d like to cover first of all is the physiology of cancer and how that works in the body generally, because that’s very important. Once you realise that the relationship between cancer and the body is something that can be influenced by nutrition, lifestyle and mind-body interactions, then you realise that the person who is most important here is the individual, not the doctors. So you need to know what the principles of inflammation and angiogenesis are, what drives cancer cells and how they manipulate the body. This gives you the basis for all other strategies. Then I’ll touch upon chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to some degree, and how the practitioners can support patients through this. We will hopefully get to talk about cachexia, a wasting condition, which is one of my favourite subjects that I have specialised in for a long time. We will then look at three individual cancer types; ovarian, breast and a third type in order to outline the differences between them. We’ll hopefully manage to fit all of that in 2 hours! It sounds ridiculous as I say it, doesn’t it? But that’s the aim, because I believe that naturopathic practitioners have a real role to play here and it’s important to give them the platform, knowledge and confidence to do it.

By Tegan Philp