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1-855-500-2873 (CURE)

Integrative medicine plays valuable role in cancer treatment

August 24, 2017

Cancer isn’t easy.

Most patients beginning cancer treatment have heard about all of the brutal side effects and have done all that they can to prepare themselves. However, something that is often overlooked and underestimated is the dramatic toll cancer takes on a person’s mind and spirit.

Medical treatments and side effects eventually subside, and life will slowly return to normal. But for the patient, the reality of all they’ve been through, and the uncertainty of the future, lasts forever.

An integrative approach to care

Kettering Health Network has been a leader in bringing a more holistic, integrative approach to patient care in the greater Dayton area. Doctors, nurses and the entire medical staff understand that patients are more than just the disease for which they are being treated -- they are a whole person: body, mind and spirit.

In keeping with their holistic care philosophy, Kettering Cancer Care is incorporating integrative medicine therapies into their treatment plan. While patients are undergoing conventional medical treatments to attack the disease itself, they’ll have the opportunity to receive various therapies - such as massage, exercise, acupuncture and art - that have been shown to help alleviate some of the side effects of conventional cancer treatments.

“Integrative therapies are non-pharmacologic, safe, inexpensive and evidence-based,” explained Carrie Schilling, BSN, RN, Kettering Cancer Care. “These treatments can be initiated from the time of diagnosis, and used through treatment and recovery to build and sustain health in survivorship.”

Of course, participation is completely voluntary, and patients can choose which therapies they would like to experience, based on availability.

“Each patient will spend time with the therapist/practitioner, discussing the patient’s individual needs. The therapist/practitioner will them work with the patient to formulate that session’s goals and interventions,” explained Schilling. “Our licensed practitioners understand how to implement their therapy in ways that support the patient and don’t interfere with treatments.”

The therapies

  • Massage: Most people enjoy a good back rub, but for cancer patients, massage can provide benefits beyond just feeling good. Studies have shown that massage therapy can improve a patient’s quality of life by decreasing pain, stress and fatigue while improving sleep and symptoms of depression.
  • Exercise: Participating in some kind of physical activity can help many people with cancer build strength and endurance, relax, and cope better with stress. Being active may also help to relieve pain, fatigue, anxiety, and even depression.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture involves tiny needles used to stimulate connective tissues and the nervous system which activates specific areas of the brain to address symptoms and promote healing. It also appears to help with emotional symptoms associated with cancer, such as depression and anxiety, and can assist with physical symptoms such as chemotherapy-induced nausea, chronic pain, dry mouth from radiation to the head and neck, hot flashes, and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
  • Art: Art has been shown to alleviate emotional stress caused by cancer, relaxing the mind and body and boosting your mood to help you through cancer treatment and recovery.

“Many of the therapies give patients a sense of empowerment in that they can take an active role in managing symptoms, managing problems associated with treatment, and promoting their own health and healing process,” said Schilling. “Families and caregivers can benefit, as well, and also can experience that sense of empowerment by taking active role in providing comfort and assisting the patient in promoting healing.”

More information

Interested in learning more about integrative medicine therapies at Kettering Cancer Care? You are invited to attend informational “Health Night Out” on Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 5:30-7 p.m. at Kettering Cancer Center in the Pavilion on the campus of Kettering Medical Center. A mini-health fair and light refreshments begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a presentation about integrative medicine beginning at 6 p.m. This is a free event, but registration is encouraged. Click here to learn more and to register for the event.