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News from the Annie Appleseed Project's first national conference.

The Annie Appleseed Project, online at since June 1999, held its first national educational conference, "Evidence-Based CAM for Cancer," in January 2008. The location was sunny West Palm Beach, Florida. As the Annie Appleseed Project is a Florida-based organization, this was as easy choice--near the Palm Beach airport with free shuttle service to the hotel and a local mall with lots of restaurants and places to walk.


Our original idea was to invite 75 advocates representing cancer patient advocacy organizations, bring in terrific speakers, serve organic food, and immerse ourselves in understanding that so much evidence exists to back up complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), natural, and integrative approaches. Most people with cancer, advocates included, learn most of what they know about CAM from their oncologist, or if they are luckier, from us. We wanted them to ALWAYS think of us with CAM questions. While talking to cancer advocates, we only came across one group that told us they did not;' "believe" in alternative medicine. It is suspected that the bulk of that group's funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry.

Although we had received an incredibly generous gift of the treasury of a now-defunct advocacy organization, we still needed to fundraise to support the scholarships we planned. We decided to charge only $75 (which did NOT cover the food) as an entry fee so that the conference would be accessible to anyone, even without a scholarship. In the end, we had 200 attendees. We chose 16 exhibitors, including them in the event by holding an opening reception in he exhibit area. We created a conference journal with real content, as well as advertisements and the conference agenda and speaker bios. The scholarships included a combination of two free hotel nights, conference entry, and in 12 cases, transportation costs (usually airfare). We paid for hotel rooms for all the speakers, giving them "upgraded" rooms, and we arranged with the hotel for the same conference rates for extended stays--after all this was West Palm Beach in January--average temperature 75 degrees. Speakers included the following:

* Ann E. Fonfa, Patient Advocate, Annie Appleseed Project

* Timothy C. Birdsall, ND, Vice President, Integrative Medicine, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

* Kedar Presad, PhD, researcher in the use of dietary supplements during conventional cancer treatment

* Judy Jacobson, DrPH, MBA. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University

* Stephen M. Sagar, BSc Hons, MB, BS, MRCP, FRCR, FRCPC, Director of Integrative Oncology Research Program

* Michael Schachter, MD, CNS, FACAM, Director, The Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine

* Lynne Farrow, Patient Advocate, AMAZON Group and Breast Cancer Choices' Iodine Investigation Project

* Madeleen Herreshoff, Patient Advocate, Can Help, Inc.

* Michael Horwin, MA, JD, Patient Advocate, Cancer Monthly, My Cancer Place

* Brain Clement, NMD, PhD,. CN, Director Hippocrates institute

* Susan Silberstein, PhD, Executive Director, Cancer for Advancement in Cancer Education-national speaker on nutrition

* George Wong, PhD, Director, Preventive Oncology Research, and Director, Herbal Medicine Program, Strang Cancer Prevention Center

* Ralph W. Moss, PhD, Author, Consultant,

* David S. Most, PhD, Director, Health Information Research, Inc.

* Dr. Madhavi Kasam, BHMS, Georgia, Classical Homeopathy, Winner 2008 Hind Rattan Award (India)

* Jill Ayn Schneider, Patient Advocate, Cervical Cancer, Circle of Life Holistic Programs

* H. Kenneth Schueler, Director, HKS Patient Advocates

* Dr. Emil Schandl, MS, PhD, [MD, MA], FACB, SC (ASCP), CC (NRCC), LNC, CLD, a Clinical Biochemist/Oncobiologist; Center for metabolic Disorders & American Metabolic Testing Laboratories

* Shari Lieberman, PhD, CNS, FACN, Foundation for advancement in Cancer Research

* Amy J. Sear, AP, Dipl. OM, private practice at the "Breast Cancer Center" of Memorial Rigional Hospital

* Apmela Miles, Founding Director, Institute for Advancement of Complementary Therapies "Reiki in Medicine," Reiki Master

* Morton Walker, DPM, holistic medicine author speaker

* We hired a vegan chef who worked on menus with the hotel staff, prepared a lot of the amazing food, and supervised as well. A local health food store, Nutrition S'Mart, connected us to their supplies and ran all the food bills through their system. A local company supplied cookies made to our specifications with half the sweetener (using organic agave nectar) and whole grains. Organic coffee was supplied by S. A. Wilsons of Canada.

Networking was fantastic at the conference; people with cancer met others using CAM, sometimes with their exact disease profile. leaders of advocacy organizations met Cam practitioners who ended up on their advisory to information learned at the meeting. Here are some comments from attendees:
 The fun gathering provided a veritable buffet of symposia on varied
 exciting topics from the power of food to harm or heal. mind-body
 medicine, the pernicious influence of Big Pharma research, taking
 control of your treatment to be an active patient, environmental
 toxins and cancer, acupuncture to stimulate immunity, antioxidant
 therapy, and new groundbreaking treatments on the frontlines of
 contemporary medicine.

 The information was invaluable to those with a experience of cancer,
 and especially to advocates like myself who want to empower and share
 evidence-based information with our local community members and
 participants. The breath of information covered CAM therapies for
 symptom management to general wellness approaches. In my ten years as
 a health advocate, this was the first conference I've ever attended
 where healthy organic meals were provided! Exceptional, great food
 with ingredients provided.

 The knowledge acquired from the various lectures empowers me to
 educate others concentrating on diet, exercise, alternative medicine,
 and proper selection of foods, which would add to our longevity.

 The conference featured many world-class doctors, researchers cancer
 advocates, specialists of all kinds, herbalists, nutritionists,
 oncologists, cancer patients, and cancer survivors. And the evidence
 is overwhelming. Now we know that "Cancer does not have to take your

 Since been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer, one of my interests
 has been researching alternative and complementary cancer treatment.
 This is how I found the Annie Appleseed website and its wealth of

Since this meeting was such a success and the need for information in this arena is so HUGE, the Annie Appleseed Project has decided to hold another meeting on the topic. Choosing speakers willing to come for no financial recompense proved the easiest aspect. There are so many terrific, brilliant, and talented CAM speakers, on a host of topics, that it was difficult to narrow our choices down. We are in the process of fundraising to cover scholarships for this year's crop of advocates. As an all-volunteer network, we try harder!

For information on the January 8-10, 2009, 2nd Annual CAM for Cancer conference, please go to: Also, audio CDs were made at the 2008 conference and are available by contacting All donations are welcome and fully tax-deductible. Please visit:
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Publication:Townsend Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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