Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to support someone with cancer.
An important trend in cancer care is sweeping the nation: Integrative oncology, or the approach of combining alternative medicine with conventional therapies.
According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, 65 percent of those diagnosed with cancer use complementary therapies for immune enhancement, pain management and to improve overall health.
“You have to look way outside the box to find good information on alternative treatment. There’s not a lot of stuff out there in the mainstream medical community, and that’s discouraging. But when you learn about it, and how integrative medicine works, it will blow you away,” said Beth Mixon, a peritoneal mesothelioma survivor.
Several mesothelioma cancer centers are at the forefront of the integrative oncology trend. Not only can you access excellent, specialized mesothelioma treatment at these centers, but also complementary therapies that will help manage side effects in addition to the mental, physical and emotional aspects of your cancer journey.
The Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology was created to help cancer patients optimize wellness and help them overcome challenges throughout the duration of cancer care. The majority of the center’s programs and psychosocial services are available free of charge thanks to funding and donations from the local community.
In partnership with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Simms/Mann helps newly diagnosed patients, caregivers, long-term survivors and young adults and children with cancer. The nearby UCLA Center for East-West Medicine also helps mesothelioma patients receiving care at Jonsson, and program director Dr. Ka-Kit Hui is a firm believer in the benefits of integrative medicine.
“It’s about treating not just the cancer or the symptoms, but treating the whole person. There are different ways to stimulate the body to help heal itself. We can teach that,” Hui said.
A helpful range of services are accessible, including:
Located in Houston, MD Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Center offers therapies to reduce stress and anxiety and programs that enhance patients’ physical and emotional well-being. The integrative medicine team works with oncologists and primary care doctors to provide a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to cancer care.
The integrative team publishes a monthly newsletter about complementary therapies and offers an online and video library that explains different therapies. The online library also includes meditation classes, music therapy sessions and other helpful practices.
A range of services are available through the center, including:
The Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine is an innovative collaboration between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Located in Boston, the center unites modern medicine with complementary therapies to enhance overall health and well-being.
Osher was established in 2002 to improve patient care, conduct research and educate the next generation of integrative medicine practitioners. The clinical center addresses gaps in patient care and offers therapies that promote the body’s natural ability to heal.
Osher’s diverse staff provides the following services to cancer patients:
Health of mind, body and spirit is the primary focus at the Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburg. The program is designed to help patients manage their symptoms, improve quality of life and navigate the physical and emotional challenges of cancer.
Complementary therapies that involve movement, nutrition, touch and mindfulness are integrated into a personalized plan for each patient. At your first visit, you will consult with program director Dr. Lanie Francis, who will develop an integrative wellness plan based on your diagnosis, health conditions and personal goals.
The program’s highly trained staff provides the following services:
Located in Philadelphia, Abramson Cancer Center’s Integrative Oncology Services are designed to help patients reduce side effects of cancer treatment, promote recovery and enhance overall health and well-being. Your oncologist works with members of the integrative team to devise a treatment plan that suits your diagnosis and personal health.
The center also conducts integrative oncology research with the goal of finding innovative ways to manage symptoms and enhance the health of cancer patients.
A unique range of services are available, including:
If you don’t happen to live near these integrative cancer centers, reach out to your oncologist and ask what kind of supportive services are available through your cancer center. It is increasingly common for cancer centers to offer these services, even if they don’t house them in one place such as these programs do.