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Oncologist Discusses Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet For Cancer Patients

I interviewed Dr. Sami Diab, Medical Oncologist, specializing in Breast Cancer at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. Dr Diab was asked about his approach to treatment and to patient comfort when learning about the possibility that they may have cancer. Dr. Diab received his medical training in Damascus, Syria and completed his cancer training at the renowned MD Anderson School of Cancer Medicine in Houston, Texas.

When Debbie and I first met Dr. Diab, we were immediately impressed with how comfortable he made us feel by being such a wonderful listener. Debbie is teaching a class on Saturday, April 29 called Fueling Good, which will delightfully show how to prepare healthy foods that will help strengthen your immune system and improve the odds of living a healthy life.

Dr. Sami Diab

On March 21, 2017, I asked Dr. Diab for a little background information for our readers and then posed the first question as follows:

Do you specialize in any specific type of cancer in your practice?

I see patients who have been diagnosed with many types of Cancer. However,  I am treating those patients who have been referred to me for my specialty and background with Breast Cancer.

Is Prevention part of your protocol and is diet, past and present, part of your discussion?

Yes, I believe that prevention makes sense which includes how life experiences and the right diet and the right exercise allows our body to become the first line of attack. I also explore holistic approaches. Sensible plant-based and Mediterranean diets promote healing and generally good health. Of course, I combine western approaches and incorporate listening to my patients needs both physically and psychologically.

Could you explain what you mean by Holistic Approaches?

I would say that mindfulness comes to mind first.  I must listen to my patients and learn what they are experiencing. We of course offer stress healing, combining western techniques with basic approaches. Prevention, nutrition and mindfulness.

Dr Diab, it seems that Mindfulness is a focus that the experts in medicine, education, and personal relationships, seem to be striving for. Can you explain how you see mindfulness?

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of *Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond.

Wow! We want to thank Dr. Diab for taking the time to share some of his thoughts about his approach to working with cancer patients. It seems that he comforts his patients by listening to their feelings in what could be a stressful time in their lives. Thank you Dr. Diab for your knowledge and time!

Jon Kabat-Zinn

*Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program.

Check out the video where he discusses what mindfulness and meditation are really about: presence of heart. It was part of a talk put on by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.