Complimentary Therapies and Spa Treatments for Breast Cancer Patients

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • “The Wedding Song,” first recorded in 1971 by Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) has become a wedding standard. Stookey wrote the song for fellow musician and friend Peter Yarrow’s wedding, transcribing it after hearing it sung in a dream he had. Because of its rather mystical origins, Stookey created a charity organization called The Public Domain Foundation to receive the royalties from it, which have surpassed $1.5 million over the years. 

    One of the lines from that song sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it: “Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?” Prior to breast cancer, I’d heard the song (everyone who’s been to a wedding in the past 35 years probably has), but that particular line didn’t resonate with me like it does now.

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    Now, I’ve found it important to believe in something that I’ve “never seen before.” And that “something” is the whole range of complementary therapies available to breast cancer patients, ranging from acupuncture and chiropractic treatments to Reiki and therapeutic massage.

    Stookey is referring to love as the thing “you’ve never seen before.” Like the wind, love is something you feel, but can’t see it. It doesn’t have physical form; it comes from your spiritual side, rather than your physical side. And its power, as we all know, is amazing.

    Likewise, the power of complementary therapies can be pretty astonishing. When drugs fail, many women find relief—from pain, from stress and worry, from fear—in Reiki or aromatherapy or journaling. I myself have experienced the effects of a visit to the chiropractor; his work on my neck and back relieved the shoulder pain that multiple shots of cortisone couldn’t touch. And Reiki, a Japanese healing therapy that balances the flow of energy in your body, has become a daily companion for me, as I’ve learned its techniques and practice them regularly.

    Thus I wasn’t surprised to read two different articles recently crediting yoga (an Indian tradition designed to unite body, mind, and spirit) for improving the lives of breast cancer survivors. One article detailed a study that showed yoga lessened menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes, in breast cancer survivors.


    The other described yoga bringing survivors out of the devastating fatigue many of them felt, post-treatment. Both studies involved women taking part in an 8- to 10-week program that relied heavily on yoga techniques, including guided imagery and meditation.


    And both, in addition to giving women relief while they were in the program, had positive effects that lasted many months after their active participation ended. In other words, these women attained improvement in their physical (and no doubt emotional) health by practicing yoga.

    It’s fine if you choose to place all your faith in science and traditional medicine, and it works for you. But if you feel there are health issues you face—physical or emotional—that your current regimen of pills and physical therapy and doctor visits isn’t touching, you may want to get in touch with someone else–your inner self. You may want to start believing in something that you’ve never seen before. Stay tuned for a series of posts on complementary therapies that you, as a breast cancer survivor, might find helpful.


Published On: May 11, 2008