At The Neeley Center for Health daily, we encounter cancer patients that are going through chemotherapy or radiation. It is a known fact that there are side effects. Acupuncture is an amazing modality to support cancer patients as well as their caretakers.
Let’s take a look at three areas of support that are beneficial for those dealing with cancer as well as those that support and care for the cancer patient.
Encouragement for cancer treatments.
Among many roles, Acupuncture is known to help boost and support the immune system. In specific cases, such as cancer, it enables the body to fight off its own cancer. It also helps fight off the side effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation. The more well-known side effects include nausea, pain, fatigue, myalgia (muscle aches), joint pain, depression, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety, weight loss, as well as weight gain or bloating.
Given the list of physical ailments that can occur when treating cancer with Chemotherapy and Radiation, most people would ask “How does acupuncture work to help fight off these side effects?”Acupuncture specifically increases blood flow thereby increasing oxygen levels in the brain and other tissues, helps stimulate the lymphatic system to help remove toxins, reduces the overproduction of acid within the stomach, helps to reduce inflammation within the body, is excellent in the remittance of pain, and it also helps bring the body back to homeostasis (balance within your body).
Though the side effect of Chemotherapy and Radiation are more physical, there is also a silent battle going on in the emotional realm of your body. Acupuncture within itself is an excellent way to “support” your emotional health. It works by releasing endorphins within your brain, causing serotonin to remain within your synaptic clefs reducing depressing and anxiety. The release of those endorphins is a very relaxing process causing your body to heal at a deeper level.
Another method of support is counseling. Acupuncture and Counseling work hand-in-hand together to relieve emotional blockages or stress, optimizing your body’s ability to heal at a deeper level. Often in our day to day lives, we have a tendency to “bottle up” all of our emotions. Over the course of time, all of those emotions eventually come up again, but they come up as sickness or disease. A simple but profound statement was made by Cindy Neeley saying “there is no such thing as an unexpressed emotion.” Though we may not put those emotions into words our bodies express them in silent ways. The simple, but sometimes difficult process of expressing fear, sadness, hurt, and deep seeded pain can cause your body to heal at such a deep and gratifying level. It is important to remember that at times we must focus on healing our hearts before we can heal our body.
It is very important to note that both the physical as well as the emotional health of the caregiver is vital during any illness including cancer. The caregiver is under an inordinate amount of stress which can lead to very serious health challenges. In a sense, the challenges that face the caregiver may be greater than the challenges of the patient, for example, they may have had health challenges before they were thrust into the role of caregiver. Or the fear and stress of taking on the role of caregiver can, if not dealt with, lead to disease.
Over the years, more often than not, we have treated the caregiver right along with the cancer patient. This again is because it is vital that the caregiver is both physically and emotionally healthy enough to deal with challenges of having an ill loved one. We always treat stress, offer relaxation treatments, work with digestive challenges, etc., etc.
As with the patient, the caregiver is offered any combination of services that they feel best fit their needs.
In summary, you may have heard the very common saying “If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of anyone else.” Truer words were never spoken. In medical school, we had to take classes called “Physician Heal Thyself” in order to learn ways and techniques to keep ourselves healthy while we administer healthcare to our patients. The same concept applies to each and every caregiver. The caregiver has to take extra steps to stay healthy during this time of crisis in order to ensure that they themselves do not become the next patient.
Here are more tips for caregiving, it takes a village.
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In Best Health,
Mike and Cindy Neeley
Huntsville, AL 35801