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A Bridge Between Two Worlds

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Traditionally, conventional and holistic medicine have always existed in separate worlds

Traditionally, conventional and holistic medicine have always existed in separate worlds. While one is built on the latest research and technology to treat an acute health crisis such as cancer, the other focuses on the time-honoured practices of good nutrition, exercise and spiritual growth as prevention and treatment. For those with a cancer diagnosis, the choices between the two can be confusing and difficult.

Dr. Roger Rogers, founder and co-director of the Centre for Integrated Healing in Vancouver, is one of those rare and sought-after doctors who brings together the best of both worlds. One of the first medical doctors in Canada to integrate natural healing into his practice, he has made it possible for thousands of people to heal on all levels body, mind and soul. For his pioneering work in creating such a medical model for the benefit of people, communities and the healing profession as a whole, Rogers received the Order of British Columbia last June.

At the Centre for Integrated Healing, which he founded in 1992, Rogers and his team of medical doctors, massage therapists, nutritionists and other dedicated staff are committed to empowering people with cancer to take charge of their own healing. His belief in the body's innate wisdom is at the core of his philosophy. "All of us were born to heal," he says. "At the moment of conception, we receive three gifts: the gift of life, the gift of healing and the gift of love." The concept is so simple and elegant, it is often overlooked: Rogers and his team help people discover these gifts within themselves with the use of natural therapies.

Though he comes from a family that has always valued natural health, the power of natural therapies really hit home with Rogers when he was a youth studying at the University of British Columbia, where he earned bachelor's degrees in sociology, psychology and social work, as well as his doctorate in medicine. His mother had come down with a mysterious illness and her health continued to decline until he found help.

"I don't know what prompted me to do this, but I felt drawn over to a bookshelf, and right at eye level was a book titled The Fast Way to Health (by Frank McCoy, now out of print). The author's conception of illness was that it is caused by accumulated toxins. I couldn't put the book down. I persuaded my mother to take this simple detoxifying approach to health."

He gave her Epsom salts (for internal use) mixed with water, along with as much fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in water as she wanted. By the third day she was back to normal. "I couldn't believe my eyes. Both of us thought she had some type of a fatal illness."

Whatever it was, this simple remedy had flushed it from her system. Rogers was inspired, but at a time when natural therapies were unacceptable in the medical community, he kept his interest in them a secret while going through medical school. "I realized by the grace of God I was there, and I didn't want to get kicked out," he says.

Since graduating in 1959, Rogers has spent more than 40 years practising medicine, including 20 years dedicated to treating cancer patients. Another of his major contributions has been as an associate professor of UBC's faculty of medicine, where he has mentored students and taught them a compassionate, wholistic approach to health care. Times have changed; the stigma attached to natural remedies is fading, and Rogers has built the bridge for other doctors to continue his work. One of the many to benefit from his mentorship is Dr. Hal Gunn, with whom he co-directs the Centre for Integrated Healing.

Though semi-retired from the centre, Rogers is still active in the medical community, continuing to practise medicine and spending time with his family on Vancouver Island. He remains humble about his accomplishments, preferring to talk about the contributions of others. Yet he embodies the very qualities that he admires in them: compassion, brilliance, and a clear vision of what true health care is really about. Through his lifelong work, Dr. Roger Rogers has developed a model of health care that, hopefully, other medical professionals will implement in every town, city and province in Canada.

For more information on the Centre for Integrated Healing, visit healing.bc.ca.

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