I'm Tina Kaczor, licensed naturopathic doctor (ND), board certified in naturopathic oncology (FABNO) since 2007. After working in oncology for nearly 20 years, I have an intimate understanding of the entire landscape of challenges it presents. Like nearly everyone, my family has been touched by cancer. Through both my professional and personal experience, I've come to realize that my work with people who have cancer must not differ from advocating for loved ones who are affected.
What does this mean?
It means that there is a never quit attitude. It means that the statistics of your disease and its prognosis are not our focus. You are an individual, not a statistic. When prognosis is poor and a person is told, "only 2 out of a hundred people in your situation are alive in 5 years," my only question is, how do I help you become one of those two?
My life has always been directed by my love of science, and particularly health. The first sign may have been in second grade, when other kids went home with games and toys they won at the school penny picnic, I went home with a microscope and a shrinking head game. By eighth grade, I declared I would pursue a health career, much to the delight of my health science teacher.
In college, I was knee deep in sciences and majored in biochemistry, out of sheer interest in the chemistry of the body. It was the early 90's, the burgeoning days of molecular biology, and I was fortunate to land a position with a young plant physiologist named Dr. Mark O'Brian. In his lab my fascination with molecular biology really took hold. As the only undergraduate in the lab, I could have just been a glass cleaner and bacteria "baby sitter," but Dr. O'Brian had a generous spirit and granted me space at the bench to do original experiments. With the oversight of senior members of the lab (thank you Indu and Sarita!), I discovered a novel gene in the soy bean plant necessary for production of what is essentially hemoglobin in the soybean plant. (Yes! Legumes make their own version of hemoglobin, called "leghemoglobin." Who knew?)
By the end of undergraduate college, I was dabbling in botanical medicine, making teas for friends and liniments for my grandma's arthritis. I loved herbal medicine, and while I knew medicine was in my future, I found conventional medical school uninspiring in its approach. So I did what any confused 20-something year old does, I stalled. I lived in San Diego, then in Spain teaching English. One day, in 1996, I read about naturopathic medicine at a library near my parents' house. It was an epiphany. I walked home without touching the ground, declared my plans to go to naturopathic medical school and the rest, as they say, is history.
Naturopathic oncology has been my focus since graduating in 2000 from National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. A two year residency at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa allowed for a solid start in what has become my career and life's work.
What you see here, Round Table Cancer Care, is a culmination of what I have come to realize is best for each person when approaching their cancer care.
Respecting the expertise of all of the participants in a person's care and acknowledging that we all have different perspectives and opinions, and that's okay! Ultimately, as long as everyone at the table holds the patient's welfare at the center of their focus and we communicate well, we can collaborate and improve the life of each patient.
I truly love what I do and feel honored to be able to do it. I believe, wholeheartedly, that each person can outlive their prognosis, that sometimes miracles do happen and that if we always keep our intent and focus on living as well as possible as long as possible, we cannot go wrong.