Using integrative therapies to cope with side effects

In the fall issue of CURE, we look at how patients can prevent common treatment-related side effects, including pharmaceutical strategies and integrative therapies.We asked our Facebook fans, "Did integrative therapy approaches help you in dealing with side effects from cancer or treatment?"We received many responses, and they were all across the board. From yoga and acupuncture to laughing and music therapy, patients and survivors shared what integrative therapies helped them deal with side effects and the psychosocial issues in dealing with cancer and its effects. Many large cancer centers and hospitals offer integrative therapies, and several now have their own dedicated departments and staff. However, not everyone was quick to answer. Some patients said it was hard to find integrative therapies, especially if they were not offered at the location they received their cancer treatment. If integrative therapies aren't offered at your clinic, there are several non-profit groups that offer support, information and services. Here are a few tips to find integrative therapy options: 1. Talk with a dietitian. Foods that boost immunity, lower fatigue and have the right amount of calories may help reduce certain side effects. Many insurance plans and Medicare cover nutrition services if it is prescribed by your physician. You can get a referral from your medical team. You can also find registered dietitians at eatright.org. Use your ZIP code and refine your search to "expertise: oncology, cancer nutrition." 2. Ask your medical team and fellow survivors about fitness programs geared toward survivors, including those at gyms, yoga studios and other local hospitals. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a twelve-week program that helps survivors increase their health and fitness, but also aims to reduce the severity of side effects. The program is available at certain YMCAs across the country. 3. Investigate whether your insurance company offers discounts or coverage on health programs, acupuncture, massage or other non-traditional therapies. [Questions to ask if your massage therapist is qualified]4. Reach out to local support groups and non-profits that may offer integrative therapies. Organizations such as the Cancer Support Community offer onsite support and classes, including yoga and meditation.Where did you find your integrative therapy services? Did it help alleviate side effects?