As I have mentioned before, alternative treatments have been important to me in my battle with breast cancer—during and after treatment. I have to give a nod to Western medicine—research consistently shows the chemo is especially effective in combating hormone-negative breast cancer, including triple negative. l
But yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and proper diet have been equally important, maybe more so. Here’s what I have done to supplement Western treatments of surgery, chemo, and radiation.
Yoga: I am a late-comer to this wonderful Eastern practice. I began doing yoga after I finished treatment and I try to do it at least four times weekly. Before cancer (BC), I used to love my evening drink—or drinks. I needed them to relax me. No more. One yoga session relaxes me way more than alcohol ever did—and the benefits continue, whereas alcohol-induced relaxation turns to nervousness and sleeplessness. And alcohol is implicated in cancer. So if yoga does nothing more than reduce my drinking, it has provided a serious benefit. But it does much more—it’s kept my body, I think, in shape internally and externally.
Meditation. Closely tied to yoga, meditation calms me, helps me think clearly and focus, makes me sleep better, and in general gives me a flat-out Zen feeling. Ahmmmmmmmmm. I am especially sensitive to noise. Now, after meditation, if I hear a bothersome noise—a neighbor’s stereo, for example—I breathe deeply into the noise and eventually I am calmed.
Acupuncture. My acupuncturist is a wonder. I went to her before each chemotherapy session and she prepared me well and, I believe, reduced my nausea. Now, she has a perceptive link to my health that truly balances me. I can walk into Abby’s office feeling internally whacky and leave feeling truly connected to my health. I have gone to her for allergies, poison ivy, lingering colds, and anything else that has not responded to my normal ministrations. When she listens to my pulse, she hears everything from the fact that I have recently eaten nuts and not chewed them thoroughly enough to the stomach upset I hadn’t yet mentioned. I believe that, if I had a serious health problem, she would be plugged into it before I was.
Proper diet. A low-fat diet rich in vegetables and fruits has been found to be a solid cancer fighter. I start every day with a green drink and, usually, a smoothie with organic yogurt, blueberries, freshly ground flax seeds, and a banana. I end every day with a mixture of freshly juiced carrots, kale, cabbage, parsley and, occasionally, a beet. Throughout the day I get my minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables and focus on antioxidants (blueberries) and cruciferous cancer-fighters (kale, cabbage, broccoli). I make sure I get enough Vitamin D–preferably through sun, and folic acid through vegetables and supplements.
The benefit to this diet is that my body mass index is at a healthy 23. Before cancer, I was at 29, just a snip under being obese.
Breastcancer.org has a good discussion on complementary and alternative treatments.