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Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jun 7, 2018 11:52 am


If you have cancer, your healthcare team has probably created a plan with treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. These are all conventional ways to treat cancer. Many other kinds of therapies, called complementary therapies, can support conventional cancer treatment.

Have you or your loved one considered trying or tried a complementary therapy? If so join the conversation below.

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by NannaM on Jun 8, 2018 9:55 am

CBD Oil - for sleep. I was extremely anxious, only getting 4 hours sleep a night. Now, more like 7 or 8.
Also, massage. I dont have benefits, so can only afford one a month, but I feel so good afterwards!

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by LPPK on Jun 8, 2018 10:06 am

After checking out the CCS booklet on Complementary therapies   I found that I am using some of them.
Yoga. I go once a week to a gentle class and do stretching at home many times a week. It is "my time" and I find that it helps to center me and focus on my body.  Being able to listen to my body has been very helpful as I went through the waiting, testing, waiting and treatment, and now out the other side.  
Music therapy.  I enjoy listening to music and will go to music when I need to pick up my mood, help with my energy or for relaxation.  I have a bunch of inspirational songs on my computer that I can click on that help to lift my mood.  For relaxation I love to listen to instrumental music with accompanying nature sounds (eg. Dan Gibson's Solitudes).  I always used this music when I did yoga with my kindergarten students and it is definitely linked to relaxation in my mind.  We also created 'movies' in our mind to go with the music and I find this a great way to myself to a different world.   I guess this could be considered imagery that I guide.
Art Therapy.  I started painting when I was home on a stress leave 8 years ago.  Since then I find that painting takes me to a different state of being and helps me to relax. I take photographs of nature (eg. sunsets, life around water) and then paint from those pictures. I don't do the typical art therapy route by expressing my feelings through my art, instead I like to paint what interests me and make me feel happy.

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Dielle on Jun 8, 2018 11:36 am

I have also used a few:

Meditation to keep me relaxed through scans and tests.
Guided Imagery - when going to chemo I imagined the healing medicine surrounding my tumor and shrinking it.  I tried to never think of chemo as "poison" or in a negative way.  Before surgery I downloaded a Preparing for Surgery guided meditation and would listen to a couple of times a day.  I would imagine a healing light filling my body and then how I would feel after waking up from surgery, after I had healed and then what I would be doing a long time in the future.  Apparently people who do this kind of thing feel less pain and heal better.  I did heal pretty well after although I can't say for sure it is due to this (but who cares) but it did help reduce anxiety.
Aromatherapy - I have dried lavendar beside my bed and will sometimes put a sachet of dried lavendar on my pillow to help me sleep.
Massage - really helped when my shoulder was sore from holding my arms in an position for radiation.
Yoga and other exercise - increases energy and relieves stress.
Naturopathic and supplements - my plastic surgeon recommended taking Arnica to help reduce bruising from the surgery.  My oncologist suggested trying Glucosamine for joint pain from Letrozole.  I"ve also taken magnesium, either orally, topically or in an epsom soak for joint and muscle stiffness.

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Jun 13, 2018 4:42 pm

I found writing my thoughts down, writing poems and listening to classical music helped me get through my chemo and radiation treatments.  I still find music very therapeutic; playing my piano helps.  I also did a lot of crossword puzzles which helped me focus.  I try to get out for walks on nice days - not today, it's a torrential downpour here! Exercise is good for the body and mind.  I'm planning to get into a better exercise regime.  Watching my husband do his weekly heart health exercises has inspired me to do more.  


Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by jimrfisher50 on Dec 6, 2018 4:49 pm

I have been taking canabis since surgeryNOV 2017.
I take it for mood, appatite,anxietyansometimes just to relax.
Also takingPau D'Arco.
Dielle‍  do they work?
My last MRI indicted un measureable change in the tumor. sothe best is itisn' growing.
NextMRI is Jan2. long wait

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Razma on Dec 29, 2018 12:40 pm

jimrfisher50‍  Thanks so much for posting. I am a stage 3 breast cancer patient and just had my second of 4 huge doses of Red Devil chemo about 8 days ago. I am having a lot of trouble with this second dose and am wondering how I will get through the next 2 and the 12 weeks of weekly chemo to follow. My daughter has given me some CBD gummies and I am thinking about trying it rather than the orange pills they've given me for nausea. It's not so much the nausea, it's the tingly swollen feelings, so I am encouraged by your testimony. Hope your 2019 is healthier and bless you for sharing.

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by jimrfisher50 on Dec 30, 2018 12:08 pm

Hello Lacey.
Ihave been taking cannabis sice surgery. Thesmokeable helps with anxiety and appatiteand sleepThecosts add up quickly

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Kims1961 on Dec 30, 2018 12:24 pm

Razma‍ I remember struggling with the "Red Devil" this time last year.  For me, each dose seemed a little more difficult so I spoke to my oncologist about it.  She was able to add in some additional nausea meds that helped.  I had to rethink the term "red devil" - so rather than an evil that was making me very ill, I saw it as a sign that the chemo was working.  I spoke with my oncologist about how sick it was making me because at the time, in the back of my mind was if I can't make this manageable I won't be able to continue.  I asked her about cannabis and at that time it wasn't legal - other than through a medical licence - so her preference was to find other ways to make the treatment easier.   Sometimes they are able to reduce the dosage, without compromising the integrity of the treatment - not sure if this is possible with the Red Devil - but might be worth an ask.  

Did they give you a number to call in between treatments if you have any questions or concerns?  Might be worth letting them know how it is making you feel - in case there are some solutions for you right now and also have it documented before you meet again next time.

Hope you are feeling better today.  Let us know how it goes.  KIm

Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by jeniswee on Dec 30, 2018 12:28 pm

Razma, jimrfisher I, too have been on the cannabis train and it’s been very, very helpful for me. Pain and discomfort, anxiety, sleep, appetite all of it. Razma - I am right there with you in regards to hating how the anti-nausea pills make me feel. Despite that, I would still recommend taking the prescribed meds though and consider cannabis as a complementary therapy, as opposed to a supplemental therapy.

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Razma on Dec 31, 2018 3:44 pm

Kims1961‍ Thanks for helping me put things in perspective, I was feeling pretty bad and having exactly the same thoughts you described, "how am I going to continue this if I feel so bad?"
I have anti-nausea meds available (Apo-Prochlorazine) and I can take one every 4 hours if needed. My problem is not so much nausea as tingling in the legs and face, jaw, forehead, heart etc and general malaise. It's the holidays so I do have  "pivot nurse" and I can leave her a message if I have questions. Last chemo was Dec 21st and usually I would see my oncologist the day before following blood tests and filling out a 20 question sheet with 1-10 " how was it" type questions. However he had just returned from vacation and I think was overwhelmed and I was fobbed off to another oncologist whom I had never seen before and I forgot to ask about results of an MRI I had on Dec 1 and chest xray on the 30 of Nov, of course this "new" oncologist didn't offer any news. They're being a bit half-assed with the info and it's frustrating but they have no idea how tenacious I am.
First dose for me was not too bad with secondary effects. This second dose was a doozy however, and if anything has me reaching out more for other resources. Just trying to make myself stronger so I can face the next treatments. Still haven't resorted to CBD gummies but did talk to the pharmacist on my case by phone who basically said if all else fails, go for it. I appreciate knowing someone else lived to tell about it and am trying to adjust my attitude towards the AC protocol.
Anyways, I'll keep my chin up, am feeling better on day 10 after "Red Devil" and will try to stop calling it that, but rather "Red Baron" as I really love anything to do with Snoopy. Happy And Healthy New Year to you and all who read this message. 


Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by cancertakesflight on Jan 31, 2019 8:13 pm

My brother provides complementary medicine, so I was fortunate to have someone who could help me every step of the day. I felt nauseated after my chemo, but it only lasted a little while before I was eating like a pig. It's unfortunate, but I was so hungry. Maybe it was from not eating too much right after chemo and maybe it was, in part, a result of the steroids that are part of the chemo cocktail. 

Sometimes people feel worse after each treatment because all the drugs from the last chemo treatment may not have gotten out of your system before the next treatment. I believe that my brother was able to get me to ground zero each time. I actually was lucky enough to be able to work during my chemo. That's not to say I didn't have bad days, but work was very helpful and allowed me to work extra hours when I felt well so that I had hours banked when I had to take some time off. 

As LPPK‍ says, sometimes performing activities that you like is its own type of medicine. Good mental health really does help with good physical health. 

Different things work for different people. You just have to find out works for you. 

cancertakesflight (Debbie) 

Laughter is a lifestyle choice. www.laughterandcancer.com/blog

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by JenDavid on Feb 3, 2019 10:24 am

Acupuncture was very helpful to me to help manage side effects and protect my organs during chemo. I also saw a naturopath who helped me with supplements and food to help with the major stomach issues I had as a side effect of my chemo (TCH). And I have benefited greatly from the emotional support of a breast cancer support group that meets monthly.

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by SLM on Dec 31, 2019 4:02 pm

Hello Everyone, 

I wanted to share that I have been doing physiotherapy for over 20 years, for treatment unrelated to cancer.  When I found that I had plateaued for pain, my physiotherapist tried dry needling.  This isn't for everyone, but it is definitely an complementary therapy that I use to control back pain.  In short, dry needling is the use of acupuncture needs into muscles or facet joints in your body, to increase mobility and flexibility and pain relief.  Where the two techniques differ, is in length of the therapy and pain.  Acupuncture requires you to lay still for a period of time, with the needles in trigger points on your body.  In dry needling, the needles are placed in the muscle for 10 seconds, and the action is very much like "poking".  The muscle then stretches.  There is some pain, but minimal, because usually the muscle is in spasm when the dry needles are used.  For me, dry needling has replaced pain medication... so I will take this win!!!  Physiotherapists are certified in the technique, and there is a lot of training that is required.  But as a complementary therapy for pain, I thought I would share, should you be searching for relief from your pain. 

Good luck on your journey.

My cancer, my rules. 
Be the storm!

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Picasso’s mannequin on Apr 15, 2020 1:51 pm

I am so glad most of my treatment was pre covid.

i have a question.

My right arm feels like someone stitched it onto my ribs. I’ve had very expensive physio which didn’t progress. I had a kinesiologist who got me stronger because after the extremely painful mastectomy and overdoses of chemo I was a mess who couldn’t walk or get out of bed. I still have fatigue but I’m more functional.

Who should I go to to see if there are surgical reconstruction methods, not for aesthetics( I look like someone took a hatchet to me), but so I can swim, paint, type, put on ordinary clothes. I’m on Vancouver island where the cancer center
  refused to help. Anyone know a good surgeon in BC? I might as well sign up for what will be a long wait anyway. If I’m going to die from my triple neg breast cancer, I won’t waste any more time trying to manage my handicaps, so a wait through covid will be reasonable.

Please give me some names and experiences, as the cancer providers are not allowed to and my go admitted that he doesn’t know much about cancer and is brand new to this area, I would be happy to go to the mainland when the ferries are open if there is none with excellent reconstruction for mobility.

Thanks in advance:)!

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Wendy Tea on Apr 15, 2020 1:59 pm

Picasso’s mannequin‍  I am so sorry you have had such a rough time. Were you treated in Victoria or at a local hospital?  You should be able to get a quality surgeon in Victoria. I had all my appointments at Jimmy Patterson's in Surrey. I think your GP needs to step up and direct you to a surgeon who can give you increased mobility. It's your body. Ask for what you need..
Wendy Tea 
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Apr 16, 2020 12:59 pm

Picasso’s mannequin‍ , even if I knew of a good person, I couldn’t refer you — people have different experiences with the same doctor, so what may have worked out very well for me might be very different from an experience you might have with the same person.

You might look through the listings on the medical association website in your province. Not only might you find someone, you might find someone in your area who might be able to help.

Are you able to keep up with the exercises you have paid for? I always think of physio as “little, tiny painful movements that pay off huge dividends in the end.” I don’t think I’ve ever been to a kinesiologist, but I’d imagine it’d be similar, so keep doing what worked for you! The fatigue is apt to linger for a while - my Dad said he didn’t feel right for about 9 months after chemo, so be patient with yourself - it just may take more time.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Picasso’s mannequin on Apr 16, 2020 2:24 pm

Thanks for your suggestions:)

I am one year post mastectomy and 10 months post poisoning. Fatigue is gradually better but I still get winded very easily.

i do the physio that seemed to help( and lots of them didn’t) and mostly the kinesiology. I do some everyday, multiple times.

maybe I’ll just forget about swimming as unattainable. I used to scuba, now I’m afraid I’ll drown in the deep end. Perhaps it’s better to go without than being harmed more than I have already been.

the problem with service on the island is refusal to refer, a primitive communication system and an opaque attitude towards patients, uncaring, no question answering, but maybe that’s because I lived in the states where you are a customer not an insentient number for billing. How can my gp make a good referral when he doesn’t know people in the area? So really other patients are the only ones with reliable experiences who will talk. 

im getting to the point where the idea of going for checkups is ridiculously aggravating and uninformative. My inexperienced gp is somehow going to know if this weird skin near my tumor site is a problem? I can’t see him in person anyway. I saw him before and he didn’t even check out my wound, but it’s one issue per visit.


Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Wendy Tea on Apr 16, 2020 2:39 pm

Picasso’s mannequin‍  I have just done a google search. Victoria BC plastic surgeon reviews. 3 names popped up with high ratings. You can look them up under Rate my MD.
I hope this helps!
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Apr 17, 2020 8:36 am

Picasso’s mannequin‍  - I’m glad my suggestions helped, and that you are still doing your exercises. I am sorry to hear, though, that “our” health care system is so lacking to your expectations. I am grateful every day for the care my Dad has received from everyone on his health care team.

If you can reach your kinesiologist, you might ask about your desire to get “back in the water” - perhaps he or she can advise if a “shallow water” aqua fit program would help you.

“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Let's Discuss...Complementary Therapies

Posted by Picasso’s mannequin on Apr 18, 2020 2:43 pm

Thanks:) I suppose I could “ swim” with water wings and a life jacket. I can live with shirts 2sizes too big and specially adapted. 

yes, in the States, you own your results. The doc also might phone you.Here, your gp God might share them with you with a special appointment. With cancer, waiting for the is needlessly stressful. But if you pretend patients are witless and illiterate they can keep stringing us along, with passive aggressive if you complain.

also it was mandated that American hospitals have a computer hub, so you can actually ask questions, I got none answered by my oncologist and I had to phone the after hours on call medical onco to get my painful and unflushed port removed. The nurses, when I had multiple problems mainly told me to drink more water, which is Chauncey if you can’t get out of bed easily.

The system here uses snail mail to make random appointments which you can only correct by refusing and asking for another one. A hub would make scheduling easier.

My oncologist seemed to have no awareness of what the social workers knew( that I needed a wheelchair)  and the nurses knew( I had lost a lot of weight and had horrendous digestive problems with appetite that did not start coming back til after different agencies, that I dug up.) or my communications with the neurologist, which you would think would be important. There was a great deal of miscommunication and they scared me more than the disease, I was overdosed by AC and this was not picked up, so I could not complete treatment.

I had to page my social worker not making scheduled phonecall session,

and then they kept telling me to talk to my family doctor when there were none to be had, what a cop out.