Cynthia Bye, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and Fellow of American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), began her business, Journey to Wellness, in 2001 and has been working with cancer patients since 1998. The business name came about because “keeping well is a journey.”
Journey to Wellness is a business in a community of businesses. Bye participates in the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, and put an employee wellness program together and gave it to the naturopathic college, to keep employees and their kids well.
Naturopathic medicine focuses on restoring the body to its optimal state of health by supporting and strengthening the body’s natural healing abilities. Naturopathic physicians are licensed as primary care physicians by 20 states and two jurisdictions. Their focus is predominantly on natural healing using herbal botanicals, nutrition, supplements, exercise, homeopathy, physical manipulation, counseling, hydrotherapy and Chinese medicine.
The difference between Naturopathic medicine and traditional allopathic medicine, is that most physicians practicing allopathic medicine have their hands tied by insurance regulations and reimbursements –and thus they’re more symptom focused –whereas naturopathic medicine focuses on the whole person/system. Bye believes it’s necessary to have both kinds of medicine, as they complement each other.
Dr. Bye’s Background
When she earned her pre-med degree in 1980, Bye didn’t have the money to go to medical school, so she started work as a chemist. Her dad suggested a sales job, so she delved into the corporate world in marketing and business development. She socked money away, and when she was 40, she enrolled in medical school, finally having the cash to pay for it. She believed that naturopathic medicine was the best medicine.
Bye did her thesis on breast cancer and completed her residency at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Okla. After completion of her residency, she passed her board exams in naturopathic oncology and is a Fellow of the American Board of Oncology (FABNO).
The Standard of Care
Bye’s patients have an oncologist on their team for standard oncology care. She works with her patients to improve general health and to establish customized protocols to complement the standard oncology care. Her training allows her to minimize side effects without interfering with the oncology care. She looks at the body as a garden, and cancer as weeds in the garden, saying that we are all making some weeds in our garden, but if the soil is healthy and vital, the weeds do not take over.
The standard of care for oncology uses surgery to pluck some weeds out, then uses chemotherapy and/or radiation on them, as a sort of herbicide, to eradicate the tumor cells. All may be necessary, but never really address why the weeds grew in the first place. Cancer is a multifactorial disease and needs a multifactorial healing approach. Bye is trained in what to do and what not to do during standard oncology care.
For naturopathic oncology, Bye uses a three-phased approach:
Phase 1 is an initial consultation of 1.5 to two hours –a head to toe evaluation of the whole body. Her job is to teach patients how to take care of themselves and to identify the contributory factors that undermine a “healthy garden.” With patients, she looks at all systems, to shore up the garden.
Phase 2 is a treatment plan to help her patients through standard oncology care without interfering. This is critically important, as statistics show that a very large percentage of cancer patients are going on the internet and taking supplements and herbs and not telling their oncologist. Bye emphasizes how dangerous this can be.
Phase 3 occurs when oncology treatment is finished and Bye helps the garden recover, whether it’s cancer in remission or a survivorship program to keep the cancer at bay. She helps rebuild the garden and reduces long-term side effects..
Bye recently received the President’s Award from the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP). Each year, an annual conference is held, with the latest and greatest of recent studies in the field of oncology, and each year they give an award to someone who has done the most to further the naturopathic oncology profession. Bye was given this award for her ND Transition Model that mentors new doctors and for her volunteer work in the board certification process.
Bye is also a board member for Complementary and Alternative Medical Professionals (CAMP). This organization strives to help individuals take charge of their health by providing information about different types of health care options. She volunteered to be on the Board, to get people aware that “the only person in charge of your health is you.”
This year, CAMP is giving free talks at almost all the libraries. In May, the topic will be on Cancer and Aging at the Vancouver Mall Library.
Journey to Wellness is located at 515 E. 39th St., Vancouver.