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5 Questions with Dr. Peterson

5 Questions with Dr. Peterson

Dr. Peterson offers ancillary naturopathic services at the Center by appointment on Thursdays. He also offers acupuncture. Here are our 5 Questions with Dr. Peterson! 

What led you to pursue naturopathic medicine, and oncology in particular?

My earliest memory of wanting to be a doctor was the summer when I was 6 years old. Growing up in Northern Minnesota, I was very fortunate to be able spend my summers riding my bike to a swimming beach at a nearby lake. One of the lifeguards that worked at the beach, who I thought was pretty cool, was heading off to medical school and I remember thinking that that was pretty neat. When I told my mom about it, she told me that the lifeguard's father was the doctor who delivered me at my birth! I thought that was pretty neat too.

That lifeguard must have made quite the impression, I went on to be a lifeguard at the same beach!

Fast forward….

During my undergraduate studies, I decided to study Biology with a Pre-Med focus. In the last two years of my undergraduate degree, I received an undergraduate grant for a research project under the mentorship of a professor in the Cell Biology Department of the Univ of MN – Duluth Medical School. The research was focused on proteins that are involved in regulating the growth of cells. Due to my research focus, interest in cell biology and medicine, I became keenly interested in cancer and cancer biology. I started to focus my sights on MD/PhD programs. During the winter of my final year of undergrad, I decided to wait to apply to medical school and take an opportunity to travel. My initial plan was to travel for six months, three months in Australia and three months in New Zealand. The six-month plan, turned into 10 years! 

When I decided to formally pursue medicine, I looked into all the different ways to do so. A good friend of mine was attending Bastyr University in Kenmore and studying Naturopathic Medicine – I decided to come for a visit and really liked what I saw. Many of the principles of naturopathic medicine really resonated with me, with one in particular - Docere – doctor as teacher. I really enjoy teaching.

As for oncology…. on the first day of my oncology class in medical school I unexpectedly had one of those pivotal “Ah-ha” moments. I remember thinking – “Wait as second, I used to know a lot about cancer biology….and quickly realized that I could still work with people who have cancer.”  My mind immediately started thinking of all the ways that naturopathic medicine and acupuncture could help support patients. I set my course to learn as much as I could about oncology and integrative cancer care.

How would you describe your job to someone?

As an Integrative Oncology provider, my primary role/job is to help set patients up for success.  To me this means to:

  • provide safe and effective naturopathic recommendations that help to improve a patient’s quality of life, decrease side effects and treatment outcome
  • help separate fact from fiction regarding natural medicine and alternative treatments
  • be an active listener for patients

Tell us something surprising about you.

I used to have to cross-country ski 2 miles from my cabin to my car every morning before going to work, which also meant that I would ski 2 miles back every evening to get home. I have to say, that by far, it has been my best commute!

Can you share a favorite family recipe?

Chicken Pazzoli Soup

Sauté 1 chopped yellow onion and 4 diced cloves of garlic. You can choose to sauté 2 chopped carrots and 2 stalks of chopped celery here as well.

Next, mix the topping and let sit for 30 minutes or more:

  • 3 cups of chopped, thin strips of green cabbage
  • 3 tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from ½ of a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar

Time to make the broth:

Take the sautéd veggies from step #1 above and add to:

  • 48 ounces of chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 16 ounces of hominy (found in the ethnic food aisle – Mexican)
  • 1.5 cups garbanzo beans (if dry cook first, otherwise use canned)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ Tablespoon of oregano
  • ¼ Tablespoon basil
  • Chunks of chicken

*Often I use the leftover meat from a herb rotisserie chicken from the deli/grocery store.

Add juice of the other ½ lime.
Mix the soup and let simmer.
Serve the soup into bowls and add the topping you made in step #2 with a fresh slice of avocado on top. I like to mix it so that everything gets nice a warm. Enjoy!!

Whom do you look up to, and why?

I often look to my patients and colleagues as inspiration. I’ve always lived my life by choosing to have challenge as a consistent theme. In almost all aspects of my life, I surround myself with people in challenge. I feel that it is a place in which I thrive and am at my best. I think challenge helps to clarify and build awareness, which in turn, serves to further define who we are and what is important to us. 

A “short” sentence about what you do when not at our center?

When not at the center you can most definitely find me playing outside – either professionally or personally. I continue to work in the outdoor education profession and have done so for over 20 years. During the winter months, I’m usually teaching cross country skiing and during the summer months it tends to be sea kayaking and mountain biking. The Pacific Northwest has so much to offer for the activities that I enjoy – it’s my favorite place to live and play!