Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Integrating Acupuncture into Conventional Treatments with resources t
I have always been very aware of breast cancer. My grandmother had breast cancer, my mom had breast cancer, and other family members had breast cancer as well. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, after feeling a lump in my left breast, I used the experiences of my family members and other people that went through similar experiences to help me make decisions for my treatments and give me strength that I was going to get through this and be a healthier, more vibrant person. Each breast cancer is unique, there are different subtypes and genomic features1. Therefore, what works for one patient won’t necessarily work for another. For me, there wasn’t a clear-cut plan of “Do this and you will get rid of the cancer and never have cancer again”. There were statistics based on people with similar cancers, but it came down to decisions regarding my treatment that I had to make for myself. I used my family member’s previous experience as guides, but made decisions based on what was best for me. I did a lot of research: reading case stories, reading scientific studies, listening to podcasts, and I continue to do so because, even though I am a breast cancer survivor, the chance of recurrence is still there. But making lifestyle changes and staying on top of recent research helps me to feel empowered and in charge of my own health. In this post, I will share the resources that have and are continuing to help me on my journey with breast cancer, and a big part of that is acupuncture and nutrition.
As many people have first-hand experience of, waiting for test results and a diagnosis can be a terrifying and very stressful part of the process. While I was getting an ultrasound, a mammogram, and a biopsy, I couldn’t help but think about all the people that have gone through this experience before. Three out of ten biopsies performed are diagnosed as cancer2. That is a lot of biopsies that are being performed. During this time, I was very stressed and lost weight because of the stress. I only told my husband what was happening, and it was very helpful and comforting to have someone close that was supportive. Waiting for a diagnosis is a hard thing to go through so many people, myself included, tend to keep it to themselves so they do not cause their loved ones worry. But having my husband there to go to the appointments with me and hold my hand made me stronger and made a difficult time easier. Also during this time, I was having trouble sleeping. Practicing meditation was very beneficial in quieting my mind and allowing me to get much needed sleep. My meditation practice has helped me a lot throughout this process. Anyone can practice meditation, there are no tools needed and it is free! In retrospect, this also would have been a good time to get acupuncture. Acupuncture is very beneficial in helping one handle stress and sleep better.
When the diagnosis of breast cancer came back, I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy and sentinel node removal and breast reconstruction. I came to this decision after doing research, meeting with doctors and surgeons, talking to family members that have been in similar situations and thinking about what was important to me and my long-term health and peace of mind. I found the following resources very helpful for my surgery.