FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the focus is mainly on what you can do to help prevent the disease. But for the one in eight women who will be diagnosed during their lifetime and may undergo treatment, it's important to learn about the different therapies in place to help counter the debilitating side effects.
Vanessa Quiles was feeling the side effects of breast cancer treatments in her body and in her mind. She decided to try something new, which is actually an ancient form of pain relief, to improve her outlook on life.
"I think the best one, the one that I'm really enjoying right now is acupuncture," said Quiles.
Acupuncture is part of the integrative medicine program at Memorial Cancer Institute.
Along with other healing methods, including exercise, nutrition and good sleep practices, it's paired with cutting-edge technology to assist cancer patients during and after treatment.
"We see a lot of fatigue, neuropathy, mood disturbances,” said Dr. Ashwin Mehta.
Mehta, who’s the medical director of the integrative medicine program, adds that cancer and cancer treatments affect our bodies in many different ways.
"The way we like to describe it is that if your body is a garden and cancer is an unwelcome weed, it's the job of the oncologist, the radiation oncologist and the surgeons to pluck out the weed,” said Mehta. “It's our job as an integrative medicine team to strengthen and nourish the garden."
The goal of the program is to prevent symptoms, enhance the body's immune system and reduce inflammation. It also gives patients the tools they need to monitor all aspects of their recovery.
"They begin to feel like they have a sense of control,” said Mehta. “They can be active participants in their health."
That made all the difference for Quiles, who is a working mom with two teenage children.
"What I have noticed is that a lot of the things that I was feeling and experiencing are getting better," said Quiles.
Doctors say integrative medicine can help with some other side effects of cancer therapy, such as vitamin deficiencies, neuropathy and even hot flashes.
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