The Healing Touch: Use Of Integrative Therapies Improves Cancer Care
Jacqueline Sario spent the first nine years of her life in Japan, where Reiki and acupuncture were considered an important part of every day health. She remembers how difficult it was for her family to adjust to life without regular access to these healing therapies when they moved to the United States in the 1970s.
So when Sario was diagnosed with breast cancer this year, she was overwhelmed to discover that the St. Charles Cancer Center offers integrative therapies including Reiki, acupuncture, massage, art and music therapy, to patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
"I was so grateful," Sario said. "My symptoms from treatment are not bad. I believe the services I took advantage of have made a huge difference."
The St. Charles Cancer Center has a comprehensive integrative therapies program that is funded by grants through the St. Charles Foundation. These evidence-based complementary therapies are offered to patients at no cost. Thanks to a recent grant from Les Schwab Tire Centers, a Healing through Music program supports musicians performing music on a weekly basis in the infusion room. An art cart in the infusion room is supplied with crafts and projects. The grant also funds "Staying Nourished During Treatment," a class for patients and their caregivers. Participants sample food, receive recipe ideas and nutrition resources. An oncology-trained massage therapist is funded by both Les Schwab and Sara's Project. Massage is offered to patients in the infusion room and through scheduled appointments.
Reiki, a Japanese technique that promotes deep relaxation, is provided by more than 30 volunteer practitioners, said Marian Boileau, integrative therapies manager. Funding from Sara's Project and Wendy's Wish, supports acupuncture which is currently a pilot project. The project will determine the level of interest in the service from patients and the potential for St. Charles to support the service long-term.
"These are all evidence-based techniques that support the health and healing of the whole person," Boileau said. "Undergoing cancer treatment can be stressful physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Research shows that complementary therapies help promote relaxation and restore balance supporting the body's ability to heal. Benefits may include a reduction in pain, anxiety and fatigue, boost immune function and enhance one's overall sense of well-being."
For David Gravance, acupuncture, massage and Reiki have all made a difference in his recovery. He recently completed radiation treatment for prostate cancer and said he was suffering some fairly sever side effects from the treatment including gastro-intestinal distress.
"I had one acupuncture treatment and the next day it was gone," Gravance said. "This alternative thing that St. Charles came up with — with the acupuncture, the Reiki and the massage — it's incredible. St. Charles looks at you spiritually, medically, the whole ball of wax."
To support the St. Charles Integrative Therapies program, contact the St. Charles Foundation at 541-706-6996.