Hold Your People Tight
Our practitioner corner will be all about how breast and other cancers have affected us in our personal and professional lives.
I’ll never forget my very first breast cancer patient. I’d only been in practice for a year and here she was, a residential school survivor, and now a breast cancer survivor. I remember trying so hard not to cry, not to let my patient see how deeply I was hurting alongside her. But I just couldn’t hold it in. (If you’ve ever been a patient of mine, you’ll know I’ll be balling my face off along with you, best lesson I’ve ever learned as a practitioner.)
I remember holding her hand and telling her we were going to conquer the neuropathy, chemo, exhaustion and trauma, and we wouldn’t go lightly. We would be kicking and screaming for survival together. Since that first patient, I’ve had the honour of supporting hundreds of women through their breast cancer escapades.
One year ago, within days, I heard from three women very close to me that they had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It prompted me to get a mammogram, which you can read about over on my blog.
The hardest case most recently was a dear friend, local entrepreneur and badass mom. From her fear of needles, to frustrating doctor’s appointments, chemo, multiple surgeries and a lot of Ativan, she—like every woman I’ve had the honour of treating—is a shining example of how every woman’s story is uniquely their own.
There is a growing body of evidence that acupuncture is helpful in managing cancer symptoms and drug side effects like nausea, vomiting, neuropathy, brain fog, and instant menopause. Here in the clinic, we’ve been conducting our own research for years now, and I can say with all confidence that acupuncture is a highly beneficial adjunct therapy to all cancer treatments.
This month’s topic is tough. I hate everything about cancer. I hate the fear that the word brings and I hate that so many of us are affected either directly or indirectly by cancer.
I know many survivors, many fighters and have lost too many loved ones.
I am honoured to work with patients in treatment and in recovery from treatments. It is a hard road for all involved and I am also honoured to support the friends, family and other caregivers of those in treatment. An acupuncture treatment is just an hour but it’s an hour to rest, an hour to let us take the weight of the diagnosis, an hour in a community of healing.
There’s a reason we say that things ‘spread like a cancer’. It’s prolific in its attack and there is no rhyme or reason. So many of us know someone – multiple someones – who have had a brush with, or lost the battle with, cancer. My grandmother passed away from thyroid cancer. She had a lump in her throat that she never got checked because it didn’t hurt. A school friend’s father, who was a non-smoking vegetarian, died from lung cancer. And that’s just a couple of examples I personally know in addition to the privilege of meeting and walking through it with some of our patients.
I like to think that in the same way cancer is mysterious, acupuncture is mysterious…but as a force for healing not destruction. If only we could offer acupuncture as a way to cure cancer! We can’t…but we know from studies and clinical experience that it can help manage symptoms and keep the body as strong as it can be as it’s pelted with chemo and radiation.
I deeply hate that despite advances in medical treatments there’s really not a lot we can do. So I do what I can – offer my support and a calm, cozy space to be met where you are.