Letters from Dr. Daniel Vicario, Medical Director

October 16, 2023,

To our Dear Readers, 

Working as a Medical Oncologist for over 30 years, being Medical Director of our cancer center, and specializing in Integrative Oncology for over two decades, I’ve learned much from my patients and their loved ones. I felt humbled and honored to work with them. Thinking of them today, of our cancer center and the integrative team continues to give me a sense of inspiration, optimism, and gratitude.

Caring for the Whole Person when we are working with cancer patients is essential. We need to care for them and their support team: their family members, loved ones, nurses, doctors, and extended medical care team. Collaborating to treat the Whole Person is vital, not optional. This is what we call Integrative and Integrated Oncology.

 At our San Diego Cancer Center, we were fortunate for the creation of the nonprofit San Diego Cancer Research Institute (SDCRI). A large number of outstanding practitioners of the many healing arts came together and co-created a truly Integrated program. These devoted healers offered multiple complementary modalities, free of charge, to the San Diego cancer community while they were undergoing standard/traditional medical treatment. These modalities included nutrition, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, several support groups, art therapy, massage therapy, biofield therapies such as Reiki and Qi Gong, pet therapy, music therapy, etc. The practitioners volunteered their time and resources to support the patients and their loved ones.

For over two decades, we witnessed the power of integrative oncology: how the comprehensive integrated support of the cancer patients and their loved ones had a significant improvement in their quality of life, and many lived longer than statistically expected.

We found that it was essential to have compassionate staff at the cancer center and at the integrative center. They were both in one place, under the same roof. Everyone worked together: the integrative practitioners, nurses, cancer center staff, and doctors. For over two decades, we observed only benefits from all these complementary modalities. No side effects or complications were seen. 

Unfortunately, for reasons we explain on our website, the integrative oncology program had to close down in 2015. The main reasons were the lack of funding and the retirement of key team members. I remain forever grateful for the countless hours that these healing practitioners lovingly devoted to the patients and the community over those two decades.

Fortunately, as you can see, our SDCRI website remains active with very helpful information. You will find multiple resources, regularly updated by our integrative coordinator: Mary Hollander, RN.

What have we learned? Even though medicine and science have advanced greatly, there is a significant lack in their understanding of the wisdom of Integrative/Integrated Oncology. At our cancer center (SDCC) and SDCRI integrative program, we clearly observed that treating the Whole Person and integrating complementary traditions and modalities makes a significant difference. Recommending and supporting a comprehensive integrated approach for cancer patients is essential, not only for their quality of life, but to improve their chances of living longer, sometimes way beyond the statistics. 

The good news is that a large number of cancer centers and respectable institutions worldwide are already implementing Integrative Oncology principles. On our SDCRI website, under resources, you will find links to some of these cancer institutions who have comprehensive integrative programs. There is also a Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO) and an Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) where a large number of scientists and practitioners come together to share the wisdom of Integration. I would recommend going to the websites of both organizations and reviewing the extensive research and resources available regarding the power of Integration. There are countless evidence-based scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals about the benefits of Integrative Medicine and Oncology.

More good news is that on a daily basis, many scientists, nurses, physicians, and practitioners of diverse healing arts come together to share scientific data, experiences, pragmatic results, and the wisdom of integrative medicine. SDCRI and its team remain actively collaborating with several of these groups and institutions.

It is clear that people with cancer need to be heard, empowered, supported, and encouraged to believe in their own intuition and their powerful ability to recover from any condition, including advanced cancer. True Healing is multidisciplinary and multidimensional. A truly Integrated approach is essential for all cancer patients. 

 In one of my presentations on Integrative Oncology, I share the details and robust data on the benefits of following integrative principles. Here is the link: (7) Integrative Oncology – Daniel Vicario, MD, ABIHM -11/06/21 – YouTube

Some advice for people with cancer and their loved ones is the following:

    1. Honor all your feelings. Having cancer is a scary and very challenging experience.
    2. Trust your powerful inner wisdom; your intuition.
    3. Be with those who make you feel good, who support and validate your beliefs, intuition, and your inner peace in the midst of all the challenges
    4. You are unique. Please do not compare yourself to others
    5. We all heal in different ways, with different modalities, tools, and practitioners. Trust in your own intuition – it will guide you to what is best for you.
    6. Accept help.
    7. You are the priority. There is nothing more important than taking care of yourself at this time.
    8. See medicines, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, etc. as Healing treatments in your healing journey
    9. Visualize your potential for infinite possibilities and healing.
    10. Find and create your own wellness and healing team. This includes your medical team, the integrative practitioners you work with, and those advocates who will support your beliefs and choices.
    11. Message of hope: for any condition considered “incurable” at this time, an answer may be around the corner.
    12. Miracles do happen. Spontaneous remissions exist.

Here is an example of a checklist to consider reviewing daily. Please create your own to remind yourself what makes you feel strong and empowered.

    1. Stress management: staying away from stressful situations/people and keeping an objective view of stressors you can’t avoid
    2. Practicing some form of empowerment discipline: Meditation, Visualization, Mindfulness, Reflection, and/or Prayer
    3. Good sleep: Getting plenty of rest
    4. Optimizing Nutrition
    5. Gentle Exercise. Yoga. Some form of movement
    6. Breathing Techniques. Focusing on the breath
    7. Honoring all emotions. Allowing them to move through us
    8. Feeling in Control. You are the priority.
    9. Embracing uncertainty
    10. Balance. Inner Peace. Homeostasis 
    11. While we remain on a healing journey, we are clearing old traumas: our own, our parents and our ancestors’ traumas that we carry within us (epigenetically)
    12. Grounding. Being in Nature
    13. Having a sense of purpose
    14. Gratitude 

I encourage you to review the many resources available on our SDCRI website.

With love, best wishes, and many blessings,

Daniel Vicario, M.D., ABIHM
Medical Oncology and Integrative Oncology
Co-Founder, Board Member, Director Integrative Oncology
San Diego Cancer Research Institute. 501 (c) (3)
Co-Founder, San Diego Cancer Center (SDCC), now U.C. San Diego Cancer Center, North County
Former Medical Director, SDCC and U.C. San Diego Cancer Center
Part-time Integrative Oncology consultant, Guarneri Integrative Health at Pacific Pearl, La Jolla, CA
Former Integrative Oncology consultant, Chopra Center for Wellbeing
Board of Directors, Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI). 501 (c) (3)
Director, Medicine of the Soul Foundation. 501 (c) (3)
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California San Diego

Learn more about Dr. Daniel Vicario.

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February 1st, 2021

Integrative Oncology Resources and Daily Ritual Summary, Checklist, and Reminders

by Daniel Vicario, M.D.

I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with cancer patients for over 3 decades. During the last few years, I’ve done this as an Integrative Oncologist. I’ve been fortunate to learn so much from them over the years, and I continue to do so with each visit and conversation. I’ve been able to keep a list of tools, empowering and inspiring concepts that continue to evolve. Several of these ideas/experiences I’ve been able to share in the video interviews and as lists of resources detailed in the following summary sheets.
Please share with anyone you believe could benefit from them.

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The following are the Integrative Oncology Resources and Daily Ritual Summary, Checklist, and Reminders lists from Dr. Vicario. Click on the links below for printable PDF versions.
Follow this link to the Patient Information Downloads to view these lists and other files in PDF format.

June 16th, 2020

“Racism, discrimination, and inequality in healthcare. A proposal of comprehensive guidelines as a collective response.”

The events that we’ve been seeing occur over the last several months are a reminder of the pervasive racism, discrimination, and inequality that unfortunately continues to transpire in our country. It affects our population on all levels, and especially those who are dealing with a serious illness. For cancer patients and those who care for them, this is particularly concerning and harmful. We would like to share a few articles that bring to light the longstanding and persistent discrimination we sadly continue to experience in our country.

  1. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Responding to Racism and Health Inequality as a Cancer Care Community, June 2020
  2. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Stands Against Racial Discrimination and Inequality, June 2020
  3. Harvard Health Racism and discrimination in health care for providers and patients, January 2017
  4. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Academic medical leaders and learners reflect on police brutality, racism, and the path forward, June 2020
  5. The Cancer Letter Here’s what cancer groups say about police brutality and health disparities, June 2020
  6. The Washington Post The cure for racial disparities in health care is known. It’s the willingness to fix it that’s lagging, April 2020
  7. Conscious Healing Initiative, Healing Our Nation Addressing Systemic Trauma with Communities of Color, June 2020

With love, deep gratitude and much appreciation,
SDCRI Integrative Oncology leadership

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May 22nd, 2020

To Our Dear Readers,

We continue to experience challenging times due to the current health crises. There are different groups that are significantly more affected. Amongst them are those who are living with cancer and their loved ones who are supporting them. We know that cancer takes an emotional toll, and this is significantly exacerbated by the steps that are needed during a pandemic: physical separation, having to stay at home more often, unable to go to the usual places one enjoys, disruption in the medical clinics and hospitals, the uncertainty of what this virus can cause if one gets infected, etc.

One of our main focuses as a nonprofit cancer institution is in the quality of life of those with cancer and their support team. We want you to know that our thoughts and hearts are with you and supporting you, especially during this very challenging and emotionally trying time. For this reason, we want to share some resources that you can consider reviewing. Most of these are local in Southern California:

  1. Our dear Dr. Paul Brenner’s writings, blog, and videos on our SDCRI website
  2. Diana Shimkus’ Everyday Mindfulness classes and guided meditation.
  3. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn has free daily guided meditations, conversations, and dialogue.
  4. NancysList.org offers a large collection of links to Financial Aid websites specifically for Cancer patients and their families.
  5. North County Cancer Fitness offers free fitness classes for cancer patients via live Zoom video meetings.
  6. Chopra Foundation At the bottom of this web page there are several videos of our friend Dr. Deepak Chopra. You can choose the topic you are most interested in.
  7. Positive Psychology: 25 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Exercises and Courses. MBSR is a group program that was developed to treat patients struggling with life’s difficulties and physical and/or mental illness

There are definitely many other reliable and reputable websites. We plan to continue to add different resources on a regular basis.

We’ll continue to do our best to keep updating our SDCRI website and Facebook with material and resources that can be useful for cancer patients
and their loved ones.

With gratitude, warm regards, and best wishes,
Dr. Daniel Vicario and the SDCRI Team

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March 19th, 2020

To Our Dear Readers,

As everyone is well aware, we are all experiencing a very challenging time with a disease known as COVID-19, which is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The elderly and those who are living with serious medical conditions may be at higher risk for complications from this novel coronavirus.

As the situation is rapidly changing, if you wish to keep up with reliable information, we would recommend checking the following websites:

  1. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  2. California Department of Public Health
  3. San Diego County Health and Human Services
  4. San Diego County.gov information on coronavirus
  5. NIH: National Institutes of Health
  6. WHO: World Health Organization
  7. Johns Hopkins University
  8. Medicare Website regarding Coronavirus
  9. Medicaid website regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019

There are definitely many other reliable and reputable websites, but these are a good place to start.
In the meantime, we’ll do our best to keep updating our SDCRI website and Facebook with information that can continue to be helpful for cancer patients and their loved ones.

With gratitude, warm regards, and best wishes,
The SDCRI Team

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December 2015

We would like to thank all of you for your donations throughout this year. Without donor support, the San Diego Cancer Research Institute would not be able to continue with its mission of education, collaboration, community outreach, and research.

Your generosity has helped Alessandra Colfi, Ph.D., to continue the International Hope Made Visible™ project: creating & sharing artful flags among cancer patients, survivors, families/friends, & caregivers. Funds for this project sent over 1,000 flags, from all over the USA, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Ghana, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Australia, to Europe & throughout our community for display in several venues. Your donations have also funded our Hope Made Visible™ collaboration with Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Program.

Continued support will allow SDCRI’s other educational programs to carry on and expand in 2016. SDCRI’s online nutrition program, Reality-Based Nutrition with Mary Hollander R.N., Dr. Paul Brenner’s Blog, SDCRI’s integrative oncology projects, collaborative research, and our educational videos.

Donations designated for cancer research are used for Dr. Mark Adler’s work in Genomic Oncology and Dr. Daniel Vicario’s work in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Vicario is collaborating in broad-based Integrative Research projects, working with several scientists, health practitioners, educators, researchers, professionals, nonprofit Institutes, and academic institutions to continue to expand research in the importance of embracing proven integrative healing modalities to support cancer patients. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to both of their work.

You were an integral part of the growth of SDCRI in 2015 and you can continue to be a part of its growth in the coming year by donating now. To contribute to this worthy cause, please make an online donation at our website, www.sdcri.org, by clicking on the DONATE button or by sending your donation to:

San Diego Cancer Research Institute
Attn: Mr. Claudio Garcia, CFO
910 Sycamore Ave., Suite 102
Vista, CA 92081


SDCRI Board of Directors
San Diego Cancer Research Institute
501 (c) (3) Established 2001

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December 5th, 2014

Update of Integrative Free services for SDCRI website, SDCRI Volunteers, and community.

To our dear San Diego County community,

As you are aware, the San Diego Cancer Research Institute (SDCRI) Integrative Oncology free services, which have been offered for over a decade, are now coming to an end. It has been a wonderful journey, and we are very grateful and proud of what was achieved. Although our services are now changing, our vision, our mission, and our commitment are as strong as ever. Times change, and so must we. The year 2015 will no doubt bring new ways to grow, so we invite you to explore the new setup and discover how you can still be part of our program.
SDCRI has worked to transition as many of its services as possible, both to community partners and larger institutions such as UCSD as of the end of this year. Fortunately, several North County partners have come forward to transition some of the programs to their sites, like yoga, mindfulness, and Zumba for cancer patients. These partners are detailed in the integrative section of our website, in hopes that patients will still access these modalities which have proven to be of great help. Please look them up and embrace the services. We understand that UCSD will be keeping the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) acupuncture program under the direction of Kim Taylor, and the Expressive Arts Program directed by Alessandra Colfi.
SDCRI will continue working with Alessandra Colfi on the “Hope made Visible” program, an inspirational project with flags of hope made by cancer patients from different places in the US and overseas. Congratulations to Alessandra and all those involved in this exciting project!
Dr. Paul Brenner will also continue with a web-based educational program on emotional support for cancer patients and their loved ones. He is creating several short inspirational videos that will be on our website very soon.
The San Diego Cancer Research Institute remains active in its mission of education, collaboration, and research, and all the pertinent information will always be available through this website. As of December 17, 2014, SDCRI will remain as a web-based resource and anticipates continuing its education and research collaborative efforts with several other respectable institutions.
Please continue to check our website, where you will find news and regular updates, educational programs, videos, and resources.

With love, deep gratitude, and much appreciation,

SDCRI Integrative Oncology leadership

September, 2014

Dear North San Diego County Community,

As many of you know, SDCRI’s Integrative free services have become very popular over the last several years, and more recently, there has been a significant increase in patient participation. The program has kept growing to accommodate the equally growing need for integrative support services for those dealing with cancer. Due to this increase in client participation, the Integrative free services have outgrown SDCRI’s ability to sustain them. Furthermore, three key supervisors of the program will be retiring or moving out of San Diego. You may have heard that, sadly, by the end of 2014, SDCRI will no longer be providing these free Integrative services in North County.

As these programs are so sought after and helpful to the patients, SDCRI is working with some larger institutions to find a way to transition over the operations of these free complimentary services. This would be an ideal situation for the community. The details still need to be figured out and we will keep you informed as it moves along, so please visit our website for updates. In the interim, we will keep the program running until the end of fall 2014.

The San Diego Cancer Research Institute, which was created in the year 2000, will continue as a non-profit with a focus on research, education, and collaboration. Our website will continue to offer educational programs, resources, updated news on integrative oncology, etc.

SDCRI is deeply grateful for all the volunteers’ love and selfless dedication to the welfare of the patients, the program, and the community over the past many years. The Integrative program was created almost 15 years ago and has become not only very successful but also a role model in its field and for other institutions to follow. Thousands of patients and family members have been supported over the years and for that, we are deeply grateful and very proud.

With love, deep gratitude, and much appreciation,
SDCRI Integrative Oncology leadership

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