When I was in chemo I tried nearly every holistic and western medical treatment. Yoga? Of course. Poison? You bet. Steroids? If you think so. Massage? Oh twist my arm. Vitamins? Definitely. Chi gong? Sure, sure. I was live experimentation at its best. When I started chemo I went to an acupuncturist and my sessions seemed fine, restful enough, and pleasant but I didn’t know if they were helping because I had nothing to compare them too. I’d never had chemo without acupuncture. Then my practitioner moved away.
I didn’t feel much worse for the next few weeks. Then I started seeing Darin at Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center. He was highly recommended and specializes in the treatment of cancer patients. I entered his office in the midst of weeks of terrible insomnia. When I left I was hardly able to drive home I was so sleepy (I’m just gonna rest myzzzzzzzsnort). At home, I crawled into bed and slept for hours. And that wasn’t the only change. My nausea wasn’t gone but it felt lighter, less crushing. I felt… Better. I have been a believer in acupuncture and a loyal follower ever since.
Since then several studies have come out testing acupuncture and nausea. This one was released around 2000 and found that “Seven of the 8 patients responded to the addition of acupuncture to control nausea and vomiting. These patients generally were able to tolerate additional courses of chemotherapy.”
This year Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit ran a test on women with hormone positive breast cancer that compared acupuncture to the drug Effexor, an anti-depressant that has been shown to reduce hot flashes. Acupuncture worked as well as Effexor at reducing hot flashes, but with fewer side effects. Women receiving the acupuncture treatments reported more energy and a better sex drive than women taking the drug.
I still see Darin every few months to help me with ongoing problems like hot flashes and anemia. This year Darin was featured in Seattle Metropolitan’s Top Docs issue in the field of acupuncture. I couldn’t be more proud. When we see each other we still need a good 20 minutes to chatter and get all caught up before the session starts. He has to see pictures of Josie and I have to hear stories about his dog – a great dane named after the Easter bunny who has her own facebook page and says things like I can touch my eyeball with my tongue. Maybe it’s the dog stories, maybe it’s the needles, or maybe it’s both these things, all I know is that when I leave his office I always feel better.