Alternative medicine is a big buzz word that I hear often in the medical community, meaning “any type of healing” that does not fall into the same realm as “conventional medicine,” and is used instead of standard medical care. Complementary medicine, on the other hand, means that you are using standard conventional medicine, hand in hand, with nonstandard treatments.
It is important to respectfully work together with capable western medical professionals to provide the best care possible for our patients. I do not expect to have the same perspective regarding the biophysics of the body that a western trained physician may have, nor do I presume that they understand the pathomechanisms of Traditional Chinese Medicine in relation to pattern differentiation or flow of energy. Each is trained to understand the body from a different perspective, but both have the same goal in mind, which is to help the patient to have good health.
I have been doing cancer support treatments for several years and have always known that patients who receive acupuncture treatments while they are undergoing chemotherapy do much better than those using conventional medicine alone. Western medical doctors at the San Diego Hospice and Rady Children’s Hospital, where I interned in San Diego, would attest time and time again regarding the benefits of combining acupuncture with western medical care for cancer treatment.
A few months ago, I shared a story with you about a patient who was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. She decided to take a western medical approach for treatment and immediately began aggressive chemotherapy. She also decided that she would COMPLEMENT her oncology treatment with acupuncture.
At the time of my work in San Diego, I was not aware of the AcuGraph system. We all know that chemotherapy plays havoc on the body. Seeing the patterns in the channels via AcuGraph was very interesting. This patient receives acupuncture treatments twice per week to strengthen her immune system and alleviate cancer-related symptoms. We always treat her within hours after she finishes chemotherapy. I thought you might be interested in seeing a typical graph immediately after she leaves the hospital.
Notice all of the splits. The chemotherapy treatments cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, heartburn, night sweats, sores in her mouth, and blisters on her hands and feet. Typically she receives chemotherapy once a week and acupuncture twice per week—once on the day of chemo to calm her energy down and another session to build her back up before she has to go in for chemo the following week. She continually asked me why she wasn’t experiencing many of the side effects that her doctors told her she would experience from the chemo. She and I both knew the question was a little bit facetious. It was obvious that her acupuncture treatments were making this journey manageable!
A couple of days ago she came in with two of her best friends. They had a lunch date planned to “celebrate” that her cancer antigen markers had gone down again—but didn’t want her to miss her acupuncture appointment. Cancer antigen 19-9 is a blood test used to track the size of a tumor in the body. At the time of diagnosis, her count was 19,000. Six weeks later she had gone down to 1,100. After eight weeks her count was 500 and today she was only 50! She said to me: “I feel better than I did before I was diagnosed with cancer.”
This, my friends, is what you call “complementary medicine.” The western doctors had to beat her body up to kill off the cancer, my job was to build up her energy and strengthen her immune system so she could survive the next beating. Together we changed her quality of life, gave her hope, and helped create a reason for a celebration lunch! It warms my heart to be involved in this wonderful medicine.
Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
Acupuncture Research Analyst
Miridia Technology Inc.