#72 The Cancer Series (2 of 3). Integrative Oncology with Dr Catherine Zollman

07 Oct 2020

Today I’m chatting with a good friend and colleague Dr. Catherine Zollman, who is Medical Director at Penny Brohn UK, a charity which in provides Integrative Support and Self-Management Education for people affected by cancer. She is also an NHS GP, an Honorary Clinical Lecturer at the University of Bristol, and was Macmillan Clinical Cancer Lead for BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group 2014-2019. She studied medical oncology before specialising in General Practice and completing a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine (University of Arizona).

On the podcast we discuss a number of topics including:

  • What integrative oncology means?
  • The need to bring the worlds of conventional medicine, lifestyle medicine and complementary medicine together
  • Intelligent combinations of lifestyle and integrative approaches to deliver better outcomes
  • Explaining the services that PBUK usually offers, and what it offers now during lockdown
  • Breaking down the barriers and why healthcare still feels so "siloed" and oppositional?
  • Why is evidence on the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions not better known or understood by the conventional medical system?
  • Why does medicine/conventional healthcare not harness the power of the activated patient more?
  • Working with Possibility vs Probability - how to avoid False Hope and False Hopelessness and find a middle path of Realistic Hope.
  • How to enthuse conventional healthcare professionals and students about the power of nutrition, movement, breathing practices, nature, therapeutic relationships, creativity, realistic hope, love, meaning and purpose to help people live better and need less medication.
  • Challenges in researching lifestyle and complementary approaches
  • Outcomes as measured in a realistic and methodical way to inspire and enact change


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"Theres some really interesting research in yoga and mindfulness in managing some of the psychological consequences of cancer diagnosis - helping people to cope better.

The primary end point has been mental health outcomes, but actually when they followed people up, there does seem to be a suggestion that people who are regularly engaging with these practices are actually living longer too".


Dr Catherine Zollman

Thanks again Dr Catherine Zollman for joining me on this podcast for what I think youll agree was another fantastic episode - I really do hope that the information youve heard has been helpful and please do share it with others who you think may find it helpful.  You can find out so much more about Penny Brohn and Dr Catherine Zollman on the Penny Brohn website.  All the social media links are on the page here too.
Dr Catherine was also really keen for us to share some additional information with you and weve noted this below:
Anyone affected by cancer (whether they have a diagnosis themselves or whether they are supporting someone who has cancer) can self-refer to our services which are offered on a donation only basis so that everyone who needs support is able to access it.
What has changed?
  • Coronavirus is impacting every part of life as we know it. For some its impact can be more profound particularly if you’re vulnerable or sick
  • Cancer is not stopping and neither is Penny Brohn UK
  • Coronavirus has forced us to change how we work and provide our services
  • We suspended all face to face services and closed our National Centre in Bristol in March
  • We have had to learn very fast what people are looking for right now and how we can meet that need. We’ve done this by speaking to our service users: we continue to get their feedback to make sure our services are making a difference
What hasn’t changed?
  • Our commitment to helping people live well with cancer now and into the future.
How have we responded?
  • Our helpline and information service has continued to be available throughout this crisis despite closing the National Centre in Bristol. You can call 0303 3000 118 or email helpline@pennybrohn.org.uk.
  • Very quickly, we adapted and have successfully taken a suite of services on line that address the whole person.
These include:  
What are we learning?
  • Our online services make us more accessible to people (you can engage from your bed if you are ill, in the garden or armchair)
  • Digital technology isn’t scary. It enables you to fail fast and find out what works much quicker
  • The charity is determined to pioneer again to come through this crisis stronger to make sure people living with cancer get the support they need.
How can people help us?
  • As a charity, we rely overwhelmingly on public support to provide our services free of charge. However, with social distancing and other restrictions many of our key fundraising activities and events now won’t go ahead.
  • If you would like to help someone with cancer right now you can text EVENT to 70145 to donate £5
  • Join our community on facebook, Instagram or twitter for self-care hints and tips and other ways to get involved.

GUEST: Dr Catherine Zollman

Dr. Catherine Zollman, BA Physiol (Oxon) MBBS (London) MRCP, MRCGP, Cert Med Ed (Cardiff), Fellow Integrative Medicine (Arizona) Medical Director, Penny Brohn UK, Chapel Pill Lane, Bristol BS20 0HH, UK, Dr. Catherine Zollman is Medical Director at Penny Brohn UK, a charity which in provides Integrative Support and Self-Management Education for people affected by cancer. She is also an NHS GP, an Honorary Clinical Lecturer at the University of Bristol, and was Macmillan Clinical Cancer Lead for BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group 2014-2019. She studied medical oncology before specialising in General Practice and completing a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine (University of Arizona). In 1999 Dr Zollman co-authored the British Medical Journal’s “ABC of Complementary Medicine” series. In 2001, with Professor Trevor Thompson, Dr Zollman created and developed University of Bristol Medical School’s pioneering and award-winning Whole Person Care Course, a compulsory unit for first year medical students which introduced them to the ideas of holistic and integrative perspectives in health and medicine. She is a Council Member of the College of Medicine, is on the Steering Committee of the British Society of Integrative Oncology, and is a Committee Member of the Clinical Practice working group for the international Society of Integrative Oncology. She was Co-organiser and Chair of the Steering Committee for College of Medicine’s Conference on Food: the Forgotten Medicine, Royal Society of Medicine in 2016 and 2018. In 2016 she was shortlisted for Outstanding Achievement in the Bristol Post Heath and Care Awards. She believes that all medical encounters are an opportunity to help people understand how building their own resilience can play a key part in managing their symptoms and improving their health. She is passionate about the connections between planetary and human health and believes that it is very hard for us to achieve optimum wellbeing if we consider ourselves as separate from nature. She keeps up her own resilience by cooking, eating and spending time with her family, cycling, walking and swimming in nature, and by playing the clarinet in orchestras and chamber groups in Bristol.

with Dr Catherine Zollman

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