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Acupuncture May Benefit Both Caregivers and Patients with Cancer

My tips and experience as a new acupuncture patient follow as a potential guide to getting beyond any fear of the procedure and potentially understanding the benefits of multiple sessions.
PUBLISHED June 01, 2019
Tamera Anderson-Hanna is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and became a Registered Yoga Teacher while coping with breast cancer in 2015. She owns Wellness, Therapy, & Yoga in Florida where she provides personal wellness services and coaching and she is a public speaker on wellness-related topics. You can connect with her at www.wellnesstherapyyoga.com.

I learned acupuncture is a covered benefit by my health insurance company and sought out services to help manage stress and wellness in my life as a new goal in 2019. The benefits of acupuncture are supported by research and I was reminded of such back in March while attending the first annual patient portion of the Miami Breast Cancer Conference sponsored by CURE®.

My tips and experience as a new acupuncture patient follow as a potential guide to getting beyond any fear of the procedure and potentially understanding the benefits of multiple sessions. My first goal was to find someone reputable and who would be affordable. I searched for individuals in Miami close to an area I frequent and then checked to ensure the person would be covered by my insurance. I am fortunate to say I have found a provider who I feel very comfortable with. The practice I selected is Classical Five Element Acupuncture. The first few sessions were used to help detox my body and record my experiences as a way to shape future sessions to be more specific to my physical needs.

I have tried to explain and asked how acupuncture works. I have been told it is about clearing energy in the body, but my scientific mind has sought more of an explanation than clearing blocked energy and restoring Chi. I have read that beta-endorphins are likely released to the areas of the body where acupuncture is being performed but more research is being done to further determine what might exactly be happening in the body. If this is the case, beta endorphins are the natural opiates in the body and while non-addictive, they may be part of what is helping to manage pain in the areas of the body being targeted by acupuncture. I suspect you could say this is moving energy in the body by clearing up areas where nerves for example may be responding to pain rather than a sense of calm.

From my own work in yoga and wellness, I often explain to clients everyone hold stress somewhere in the body. Our health is improved when we learn how to identify stress and relax. If we work on areas where we hold stress we are improving upon our wellness and this potentially helps us become more resistant to illness or being better able to bounce back from such. I was definitely experiencing stress with the news of family members being diagnosed with cancer after the new year and have found acupuncture has helped me to experience improved sleep and feeling less stressed as a caregiver.

I tend to be someone who has a lot of energy and this is good when I am busy putting my energy to work on positive tasks, but it is not good for my mental or physical well-being if my energy is put into worry, for example. Making time for personal care most certainly is not underrated if it helps me to take less sick or personal leave due to stress, helps me sleep better at night, assists in experiencing less pain or tension in my body and allows me to redirect my energy to a more positive focus and perspective, thus having more good energy.

My acupuncturist shared she finds she does most of her work in my neck. The pins do cause some short-term discomfort when initially piercing the skin but is it similar to the feeling of a pinch which lets you know the points are literally hitting a nerve or what feels like an area of tension. If there is no sensation, it was explained to me the pin isn't in the correct place for this type of acupuncture. Aromatherapy has also been combined with my sessions and has helped with an overall state of relaxation. Pins might be placed in the back side of the body to start and for my final few minutes, pins are used in my ears and the front part of my body.

Being a cancer survivor, I was pleased to learn my acupuncturist has specific training from having worked on patients with cancer and has training from MD Anderson Cancer Center. She shared she finds acupuncture helps with many health problems and can include helping to target pain, stress, depression, headaches, arthritis, fatigue, backaches, infertility, menopause and other conditions.

As a side note, I would say I have had fewer headaches since seeing her and while I might had begun putting on a couple of pounds due to stress, it seems I am reverting back to my normal weight and eating habits. I learned other specialties in acupuncture can include facial rejuvenation and my provider has a program where she works with Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) to help treat veterans with free community acupuncture, as it is shown it can help with individuals diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The acupuncture I am doing along with a healthy diet is also designed to assist in releasing metal toxicity and in balancing the body from adrenal fatigue. For cancer survivors and caregivers, you might want to consider checking into the benefits of acupuncture, especially if it is a covered benefit under your health insurance. As some say, “No pain no gain,” but I would say the minimal discomfort you may experience is worth the benefit.

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