This entry was written by Dory Ellen Fish, R.Ac – National Board Acupuncturist since 1995:
“Receiving acupuncture was one of the most beneficial things I did to support myself both during and following cancer treatment. It has helped me enormously on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.”
– A.R.D., acupuncture patient and cancer survivor
The period of time following breast cancer treatment is one of significant transition. Women are coming to the end of an extremely challenging time and often want to integrate positive self-care like healthy diet, exercise, and meditation. Acupuncture is an outstanding choice for healing during this time since it works on the body, mind, and spirit. In my clinical practice, I see many individuals who wish to be “detoxed” from drugs and invasive procedures that relate to cancer treatment. Many acupuncturists can make suggestions about these concerns and also provide exceptional emotional support.
Acupuncture is widely believed to support the individual’s healing mechanism. Acupuncture can help clear the affects of surgeries with protocols for healing scar tissue and assisting range of motion. Many people think of acupuncture as a remedy for back relief, nausea relief, or an effective way to quit smoking. However, there are many ways that acupuncture can play a key role in recovery from cancer. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has documented the efficacy of acupuncture treatments for post-operative pain as well as lingering chemotherapy and radiation symptoms. Hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, stomach distress, and anemia are among the most common complaints.
The time following diagnosis and treatment is often a very emotional period which deserves a great deal of compassion and support. Acupuncture can help to establish a “new normal” after treatment and beyond, regardless of the course of medical treatment. Mood changes are commonly reported, including depression. The emotional issues respond very well to acupuncture treatments and the therapeutic relationship. At a spirit level, I see women who have experienced loss and trauma, but also possess an emerging sense of connection and a realization of strength. In addition, there is the gradual process of seeing oneself as strong and resilient!
Choose the right acupuncturist. The goodness of fit is essential! Talk to a few practitioners, make sure your schedules are compatible, and that you have a positive sense of this person face-to-face or over-the-phone. Select an experienced practitioner who also has knowledge of working with women affected by breast cancer and internal medicine. Ask questions about their treatment approach. If you do not feel comfortable with the practitioner, find someone who will better complement your recovery support team.
From a practitioner’s perspective, the work that I do with those affected by cancer is the most meaningful. The intimacy of our acupuncture sessions and the time spent is particularly helpful and nurturing. I view this as sacred work and an opportunity to support women who have faced many fears and pain. My role as an acupuncturist is to help these women rebuild and identify the virtues that they already possess, which will support them during this journey.
Are you interested in learning more about acupuncture and how it can be beneficial in your recovery? Visit LBBC’s website and pose your question to the Ask-the-Expert forum. We want to hear from you! Feel free to also contact Dory directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.