My mother had breast cancer over 20 years ago, I was in junior high and didn’t quite fully understand the impact of this disease. I knew people died from it and people survived it, but I don’t think it ever fully sunk in how serious it was or could have been. My mom was one of the lucky ones, somehow it was discovered early, before it had fully formed a lump, she was advised to get a full mastectomy and went in right away. So they could catch it before it spread. They also took a few lymph nodes just to make sure. And that was it, her cancer was gone. One surgery, no medications, no treatments, no chemo or radiation. Maybe because it was as simple as that, and my mom was a champ and didn’t show me any fear, that I didn’t realize or experience the devastation it causes to a lot of other families. Writing this now and actually having to think about it brings tears to my eyes of gratitude, thankful that my mom is a survivor and her experience was as smooth as it was. My mom still went through her own stuff, what did I do wrong? Why me? Will I still feel like a woman with only one breast? Will my daughter get this too? Is it in our genes? What happens if it comes back? I’m sure there is more, but this is what we discussed and moved through together.
We haven’t talked about it in years, but I’ve been finding myself more and more that I’m having similar conversations with my patients. Talking about their experiences, struggles and fears surrounding cancer. Whether they are going through it or have gone through it themselves, or a close loved one is, the stress can take a toll on everyone involved and I frequently get asked if acupuncture can help. Acupuncture is a complimentary therapy that can help manage the side effects of the disease and treatments and can help reduce stress for everyone involved. Of course, I ask to make sure treatment is okayed by your physician first and I usually recommend that not only the patient but the loved ones caring for the person come for treatments too.