Even as a little girl sticking needles in dolls, Leesa Kirchner knew she was destined for a life in medicine. But her experiences with doctors and the traditional medical system also left her wanting.
It wasn’t until she was a young woman in Montreal, while preparing for medical school, that she had an encounter with what would become her true calling.
“There was always something not sitting right when I would see a doctor and get a prescription,” she said. “I would always leave frustrated.”
Then a friend who was also an undergraduate in the sciences told her about naturopathic medicine. Kirchner agreed to see a acupuncture specialist about a chronic condition she was dealing with, and the results were startling.
“Two weeks later I was fine,” Kirchner said from the office she moved into in February.
She is one of about eight Canadian with a fellowship designation from the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO). It means she has demonstrated competence in both naturopathic and conventional medical oncology, and has met the highest standard of the profession.
That also means she champions an “integrative” approach with patients. Kirchner will study a patient’s medical history, learn the medications and other pertinent aspects, then develop a strategy to compliment the conventional treatments (including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and surgery.)
“It’s not what I say versus what (their oncologist) says. I try to work with them. I’ll send a letter to their doctor explaining what we are doing, and 99 per cent of the time they are OK with it,” she said. “It’s not about interferring with chemotherapy, but complimenting it. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
There are certain plants and nutrients that are proven to offset the painful effects of conventional treatment, such as hand-and-foot syndrome - whereby skin easily falls off - susceptibility to infections due to a decrease in white blood cells, and others.
Along with simple dietary changes and a manageable exercise routine, Kirchner has seen success with cancer and pre-cancerous patients.
However, it is the IV vitamin C therapy that is generating the most interest. It is a first for the area.
Some in the field of naturopathic medicine distrust and are even antagonistic toward conventional treatments - especially drugs provided by Big Pharma. But Kirchner is all about results.
“I’m not an anti-pharmaceuticals,” she said. “I’d like to see them broaden their horizons and do research where it is needed.”
A major reason naturopathic remedies are not always endorsed by mainstream medical leaders is because studies related to these approaches end with “shows promise” and “more research needed.” Only Big Pharma has pockets deep enough to do that research. That’s why Kirchner and others would like to see some profits from pharmaceutical companies directed toward what they do best - research.
Kirchner has about a decade of experience in her profession, starting out in private practice before becoming chief medical officer of an integrative cancer centre in Ottawa.
She then realized she fits best in a private practice setting, and since she was living in nearby Constance Lake, she finally took up Carp Ridge founder Katherine Willow’s offer.
“I was pleased to join the Carp Ridge Ecowellness Centre since I am aware that it is an integral part of the community.”
Kirchner finds working with Willow, whose approach has inspired strong admirers and some detractors, has resulted in a solid balance.
“I believe our practice styles compliment each other really well and we can both benefit and learn from each other.”
On Saturday, April 13, from 1 to 3 p.m., Kirchner hosts a discussion on naturopathic cancer care and the IV suite. To find out more, see www.crnhc.com or visit 2386 Thomas Dolan Pkwy, Carp.