We had the good fortune of connecting with David Oster and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
There is still a commonly-shared opinion among conventional oncologists, which was appropriate to hold to 20-years ago though not true and quite outdated today, that “unfortunately, there is just no scientific evidence supporting the use of natural approaches in the field of oncology; whether to help you get through your conventional treatments, or for the hope of a potential anti-tumor impact in your case”. Again, this notion was true 20 years ago but is certainly no longer accurate in 2021. Research to find out if, and which, natural approaches actually work for cancer patients started in the mid-90’s and has been robustly added to ever since. Today, the amount of published evidence supporting the benefits for particular natural compounds and strategies to complement conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation is vast and of high quality. The science has helped fine-tune the field of integrative oncology into a highly nuanced branch of cancer care. It has ushered in an era of established “best-practice” guidelines to direct how we can best support a cancer patient with integrative medicine. At the same time, this scientific scrutiny has also allowed us to discard the plethora of unfounded claims and inappropriate recommendations that litter the internet, leading to wasted time, wasted hope, and wasted finances of patients. It is such an encouraging relief when patients have access to this guidance and additional portfolio of clinical support. It is also reassuring to oncologists that their patients are being steered away from unfounded silliness, towards safe and helpful integrative treatment options.
What should our readers know about your business?
Well, Oster Oncology is a private practice that is exclusively focused on delivering integrative oncology and naturopathic clinical therapies and care to individuals that are going through conventional oncology treatments. We also develop treatment plans for individuals that have already completed their definitive treatments (surgery, chemo, radiation, etc.) and are now wanting to learn and implement strategies to decrease their risk of recurrence. I founded Oster Oncology in 2017 after moving on from a staff position that I held for five years at a large integrative cancer hospital in Georgia. The transition was difficult. I could not have anticipated the full impact that leaving the clinical teams I had been daily working within would have on me. Being removed from the front-line care of my patients (who you quickly grow to love and have concern for) was emotionally difficult. A vacuum, of sorts, was left in both my professional and personal life. My dream and goal, however, of starting a medical practice that could provide this same level of hospital-grade integrative oncology to individuals coast-to-coast and internationally that did not have this form of cancer care available to them in their geographical region, via tele-medicine and video consultations, drove me forward. I moved my family from Georgia to Colorado in 2018 to join a medical clinical with a similar practice model. Unfortunately, very soon after arriving another hurdle fell in our path. The “as advertised” clinic was not exactly what we had envisioned and it became apparent that it was not a good fit, professionally. This disappointment coincided with my wife’s mom being diagnosed with leukemia, drawing my wife and our 3 young daughters back to Canada to be with her during her last year with us. So, a challenging time. It was at this point that I started reaching out to the cancer hospitals in the Denver area and front range to discuss integrative oncology with them. I was generously welcomed into a few of these hospitals (Sky Ridge, Rose Medical, etc.) to present to their patient groups and nurse navigator teams. Since that time, a growing trust from local medical oncologist and surgeons has continued to develop and referrals for coordinating care for their patients have been established. So, today, in 2021, I find myself in a place of true gratitude to have the opportunity to again work with such great conventional oncology docs for the care and treatment of individuals dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The practice is also growing nationally and internationally as well. What sets Oster Oncology apart? I would say three things: First, only evidence-based, science-validated, natural options are offered to our patients. This, sadly, is not commonly the case in alternative medicine clinics across the country and our state. We only provide the most solid and legitimate integrative options for our patients so that they get what works best first, and avoid the nonsense that can muddle up a patient’s ability to make good decisions. We guide patients through all of this. Second, hospital-trained expertise. There are many great naturopathic doctors (ND’s, FABNO’s) across the US that have specialized their practices in cancer care. A very small handful, however, have ever worked on the front-line conventional hospital setting. Those of us who have know that there is no substitute for the level of learning, the clinical pearls gained, the nuanced understandings gleaned, and the high appreciation gained for what happens in the conventional clinical room between a medical oncologist and a patient. I often admit to patients that I sometimes feel I know conventional oncology more than naturopathic medicine. This, I believe, is huge advantage for my patients as they get a solid understanding from both sides of the fence, coordinated into a comprehensive integrative plan. Third, heart-felt commitment to our patients and their loved ones, care-givers, partners, and family. Oncology is a field of medicine that is often heavy at times, but it is also one that is uniquely special and personal. We grow to love our patients and uninhibitedly give them the compassion and commitment that this type of scenario demands.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Though we are relatively new to Colorado we have certainly explored this beautiful state since we arrived. We have also had family come out to visit and show them around. So, I have to admit that our favorite spots are all up in the mountains. We love Summit country, for sure. We often head up to Lake Dillon and Frisco with our girls, enjoying the town, slow pace, a hike or two, and the scenery. There are a couple great pizzerias that we never miss eating at up there. Other spots would include Buena Vista, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, and St Mary’s glacier, Evergreen, Lyons, Nederland, or Georgetown are fun to stroll around in for an afternoon too. I also love getting out on my road bike, so Summit County from Loveland Pass to Vail Pass and Breck would be on the list, along with climbs up to St. Mary’s and the like, and all of the accessible mountain passes we can get to (Loveland Pass, Guanella Pass, Berthoud Pass, etc). At Christmas we have been getting a tree cutting permit and have head up to the Keystone/Montezuma area. Waist-high snow to find a tree! It’s great up there too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Looking back over the years and the person(s) that have impacted my professional development, career advancement, and personal growth, I would have to recognize many individuals. Firstly, my parents. They have always supported me through my pre-med and post-grad/med school academics. I could not have done it without their help and encouragement. Next, my wife. Her support, sticking through the ups and downs of my first private practice, home life, parenting, the recent years of working in a high-volume cancer hospital, then most recently leaving that hospital and venturing out to start Oster Oncology. My colleagues. I have learned so much from the amazing doctors that I have had the privilege of working alongside. Five years in the cancer hospital setting had me caring for patients shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the brightest medical and radiation oncologists in the nation. What a learning curve! I was also in a team of integrative doctors staffed at this hospital as well. These colleagues and friends were also instrumental in honing my skills in integrative oncology. Finally, the patients I have been honored to care for. Individuals (and their families) that have had to go through the shock of a diagnosis, the intimidation of starting treatments, the difficulty of side effects, and the marked anxiety of each new scan, are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. To further honor me with their trust has been humbling and life-changing for me personally.
Instagram: DrDavidOster (OR) OsterOncology
Linkedin: Dr. David Karl Oster, ND, FABNO
Facebook: Oster Oncology
Youtube: Channel: Oster Oncology
Other: Video Library: www.https://osteroncology.com/oncology-videos/