Yesterday marked the beginning of Breast Cancer awareness month, a disease that poses as a devastating epidemic. The truth is, we will all witness someone we know or love suffer as they are diagnosed, treated and battle cancer. Yet, despite the statistics, there are still countless numbers of men and women who take up the cause to fight this disease, ushering in a new era of hope at their side.
Dr. Maggie DiNome is one such woman, a renowned surgeon specializing in colon and breast cancer in Los Angeles. She is the current Chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital, the Medical Director of their High-Risk Clinic and the Associate Director of the Margie Petersen Breast Center.
Through Maggie’s work at the Margie Petersen Breast Center, nutritional guidance and healing yoga classes are offered at no charge for patients. While a concentration on prevention and overall wellness may seem like common sense, it is not the underlying focus of the medical profession. Dr. DiNome is considered one of the best cancer doctors in the world, but her increasing following is not just because of her compassion or her competence as a surgeon, it’s because her outlook on prevention and alternative cancer treatments is literally changing lives.
Darling Magazine: Tell us about your background and what made you decide to become a physician.
Dr. DiNome: I remember deciding to become a physician when I was six. That’s when I told my mom not to worry, that I would become a doctor. We had just lost our father to colon cancer when he was only 39, and my mother was only 31 with the three of us. And, the reason that I wanted to become a doctor right then was because I saw my mom suffering from my father’s death, and I wanted to do what I could to make sure others wouldn’t suffer in the same way.
It’s interesting because it didn’t have anything to do at the time with my father per se because I was so young and therefore shielded and naive to the pain, fear and suffering that he was experiencing. It was all about saving my father and others like him so that loved ones wouldn’t suffer. I think my beginning gives me a unique perspective because every patient is part of a larger story to me, and I fight every day for my patients, to return parents back to their children, spouses to one another, sisters to brothers, and individuals back to society to give them the chance to live the lives that they were meant to.
… every patient is part of a larger story to me …
DM: What do you think through your research and experience is most important when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment?
Dr. DiNome: Well, I think the most important thing is to recognize that treatment and prevention are two sides of the same coin. For the past 50 years, the majority of the funding and attention has been on breast cancer treatment. And, while treatment is obviously important, it is only half of the story. Prevention is the other half. I think we’re about to witness a shift in the understanding of cancer, and people will come to recognize that prevention of cancer will be our most effective cure. Along those lines, I think nutrition will prove to be our most effective cancer preventing strategy. As we have developed as a society, we have moved away from a whole-foods, plant-based diet, and we have embraced things artificial, processed, and engineered, and I think that has impacted our cancer risk negatively.
In terms of treatment, I think we will move toward therapies that are more targeted as we continue to build on our ability to evaluate the distinct genetic profile of each patient’s cancer. At the John Wayne Cancer Institute, we have a rapid gene sequencer that can map out an individual’s entire genome in short order, and I believe this will be the basis of all future therapies.
DM: How will the new wellness center specifically benefit cancer patients?
Dr. DiNome: My vision is to create a fully comprehensive wellness center at the Margie Petersen Breast Center that will bring in nutritional counseling, cancer risk assessment, stress reduction via yoga, acupuncture, and massage, so that our patients undergoing breast cancer treatment or those considered at high-risk for the disease will have all of the resources necessary to restore their health while treating their disease. Many scientific studies support that nutrition, stress reduction and acupuncture have positive effects on health and cancer risk, so it is our goal to bring these services to our patients. Our wellness center, which will focus on restoring health, will parallel our state of the art treatment center that focuses on treating disease.
Many scientific studies support that nutrition, stress reduction and acupuncture have positive effects on health and cancer risk, so it is our goal to bring these services to our patients.
DM: How can readers get involved in the work you are doing and support you?
Dr. DiNome: If your readers embrace our message and share it with their friends and loved ones, that will ultimately help turn the tide toward prevention as a powerful tool for eliminating cancer. In terms of direct support for us, we always welcome donations earmarked specifically for our wellness center and high-risk clinic, as well as for our research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. Inquiries can be directed to the Foundation Office at Saint John’s Health Center.