All you need is deep within
you waiting to unfold and reveal itself.
All you have to do is be still and take time
to seek for what is within, and you will
surely find it.
— Eileen Caddy
conventional treatment for breast cancer
can include surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy),
chemotherapy, radiation and other medical
treatments such as immunotherapy, hormonal
and biologic therapy. These treatments have
been studied and evaluated for years and,
to date, provide the best chance for survival.
Conventional medicine primarily addresses
the “physical” aspect of the
disease, which is very important.
therapies tend to the needs of a woman’s
mind or spirit—a “whole
person” healing approach. It is with
this approach that complementary therapies
may help in the healing process. Many hospitals
refer to the use of conventional medicine
together with certain complementary therapies—for
which there is good, scientific evidence
on safety and effectiveness—as “integrative
Some researchers believe
that our mind has the power to overcome
physical illness or pain. In fact, as breast
cancer survivors, it is easy to see how a
positive attitude and a good sense of humor
can make a bad experience easier and more
tolerable. When you can do something to help
yourself, you feel empowered. You are able
to secure some sense of “control” in
a situation that often seems out of control
and out of your hands.
serve as additions to conventional medicine
and may help relieve symptoms, reduce stress
and enhance well being. They allow you
the opportunity to participate in something
that makes you feel better, calmer, more
at peace and in control during the stressful
times of treatment or simply in your daily
life as a survivor.
We do not suggest that
use of any of these therapies will cure
breast cancer, or necessarily slow its progress.
However, their place in your daily life
as a breast cancer patient or survivor may
be very valuable.
It is very important to
discuss your use of complementary therapies
with your doctor or someone on your healthcare
team. Some complementary therapies
are not supported by all physicians,
and many therapies have not been tested
scientifically. Others, such as vitamins
or herbal supplements, may interfere
with the effectiveness of your chemotherapy
treatments and could be harmful.
keep in mind that some complementary therapy
treatments may not be covered by your health
insurance provider. It is a good idea to
find out what is covered. Some hospitals
and cancer centers in North Carolina offer
complementary therapies, and these may
be more likely to be covered by your health
insurance. Check with your local hospital,
cancer center, or cancer supportive care
center to find out what programs they offer.
hope that you find something within this
section that will help make your journey
through breast cancer treatment easier
and life beyond breast cancer more vibrant,
peaceful and healthy.
What is the difference
between complementary and alternative therapy?
An alternative therapy is any treatment
for cancer that is used to replace
a traditional medicine cancer treatment.
A complementary therapy is used together
with or to “complement” traditional
forms of treatment. Complementary
therapy often focuses on treatment
and healing of the whole person—mind,
than just the disease itself.
COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE
Complementary and alternative
medicine, when grouped together, are often
called CAM therapies. The National Cancer
Institute classifies CAM therapies in the
following five categories.
Alternative medical systems are
built upon complete systems of theory and
practice. Often these systems have evolved
apart from or earlier than the conventional
medical approach used in the United States.
Examples of alternative medical systems
that have developed in Western cultures
include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic
medicine. Examples of systems that have
developed in non-western cultures include
traditional Chinese or Eastern medicine
Mind-body medicine uses a variety
of techniques designed to enhance the
to affect bodily function and systems.
Some techniques that were considered
CAM in the past have become mainstream
(for example, patient support groups
and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other
mind-body techniques are still considered
CAM, including meditation, prayer, mental
healing, and therapies that use creative
outlets such as art, music, or dance.
Biologically based therapies in
CAM use substances found in nature, such
as herbs, foods and vitamins. Some
examples include dietary supplements,
herbal products, and the use of other
so-called natural, but as yet scientifically
unproven, therapies (for example, using
shark cartilage to treat cancer).
and Body-Based Methods
Manipulative and body-based methods
in CAM are based on manipulation or
movement of one or more parts of the
body. Some examples include chiropractic
or osteopathic manipulation, and massage
Energy therapies involve the use
of energy fields. They are of two types:
therapies are intended to affect
energy fields that purportedly surround
and penetrate the human body. The existence
of such fields has not yet been scientifically
proven. Some forms of energy therapy manipulate
biofields by applying pressure or manipulating
the body by placing the hands in or
through these field. Examples include
qi gong, Reiki and Therapeutic Touch.
therapies involve the unconventional
use of electromagnetic fields, such as
pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating-current
or direct-current fields.
descriptions of CAM adapted from the
National Center for Complementary and
Alternative Medicine, www.nccam.nih.gov.
do I find out more about complementary
therapies in my community?
There is a wide range of complementary
therapies available in North Carolina.
Some hospitals and cancer centers in
North Carolina offer complementary
therapies such as exercise, yoga, massage,
stress management, art therapy, and
others. Some you can practice in your
own home (prayer, meditation, yoga),
while others require you to find someone
trained to provide specific therapies
the year there are also workshops and
programs offered that provide opportunities
to grow and heal (art therapy, retreats,
survivorship events). We encourage you to
find what you need to help you along in your
We have listed a number
of North Carolina resources that provide
a variety of complementary therapies in
their programs. Also, check with your local
hospital, cancer center, or cancer supportive
care center to see what complementary
therapies are available. (See North
Carolina Hospitals & Cancer
listings include whether each hospital
offers complementary therapies.)
Books and More
Cancer Society’s Guide to Complementary
and Alternative Cancer Methods,
foreword by David S. Rosenthal, MD (2000).
Provides encyclopedic overview of specific
complementary and alternative therapies.
Call 888.227.2345 or order online at www.cancer.org
of an Illness (As Perceived by the Patient),
by Norman Cousins (1991). Best-selling
classic of health and healing that showed
how one man proved your mind can cure your
body. This medical memoir demonstrates
what the mind and body, working together,
can do to overcome illness.
Patient’s Guide to Complementary
and Alternative Medicine, 2nd edition,
Kerry Harwood, RN, MSN and Christine Picket,
MS, RD, Editors (2000). Provides comprehensive
information about complementary and alternative
medicine to assist patients in obtaining
good information, making decisions about
their care and considering important issues
in selecting and working effectively with
their health care team. Also available
in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional
and Complementary Approaches to Cancer,
by Michael Lerner (1996). Well received
by mainstream health professionals and
alternative health communities, this book
is useful for those interested in considering
alternative therapies in conjunction with
standard medical treatment. Explores what
mind/body medicine can offer in patient
Cancer Care: Integrating Alternative, Complementary
and Conventional Therapies, by James
S. Gordon, MD, and Sharon Curtin (2000).
Provides sound advice on reviewing information
on alternative and complementary therapies,
making treatment decisions and finding
various types of providers, and includes
With My Healers: My Journey to Wellness
from Breast Cancer, by Cynthia Ploski
(1997). Offers upbeat personal narrative
of hope to those facing breast cancer.
Ploski tells the story of her active role
back to wellness, using both traditional
and alternative healers.
Weil’s Self Healing. A monthly
newsletter that contains articles on variety
of health issues, discussion of therapies
and complementary/alternative medicine.
Call 800.523.3296 or see www.drweilselfhealing.com.
New Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell,
RPh, PhD (2000). A completely updated version
of Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, it
discusses over 100 herbs that are easily
available, geared to the novice who is
interested in exploring the world of herbal
Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting
Through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments,
Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations and
All That, by Allen Klein (1989).
The author, who went through his wife’s
terminal illness, presents proven techniques
for overcoming the negative effects of
loss and other difficulties. Elevates the
Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice
of Medicine, by Larry Dossey, MD
(1995). The author studies the healing
power of prayer and includes reviews of
research that attest to prayer’s
Through Cancer: An Oncologist’s Seven-Level
Program for Healing and Transforming the
Whole Person, by Jeremy Geffen (2000).
Provides a step-by-step guide to assist
people with cancer to address all aspects
of healing. Written by a medical oncologist
who practices using both conventional and
Love, Medicine & Miracles:
Lessons Learned About Self-Healing from
a Surgeon’s Experience With Exceptional
Patients, by Bernie S. Siegel, MD
(1986). Addresses the mind-body connection
in healing the body, the will to live,
listening to your intuitive voices, how
to “heal your life” and fight
through adversity to leave a legacy of
the Body, Mending the Mind, by Joan
Borysenko, PhD (1993). Shows how to take
control of your own physical and emotional
well-being and how to elicit the mind’s
relaxation response to boost immune system.
Brings new perspective on illness and health
and shows how we can take an active role
Love & Healing (Body-Mind Communication
and the Path to Self-Healing: An Exploration),
by Bernie S. Siegel, MD (1990). Emphasis
on self-healing, using all options, including
your innate ability to heal as well as
what science offers; how to give ourselves
healing messages through meditation, visualization,
relaxation and peace of mind.
Faith and Healing: Cure Your Body, Heal
Your Mind, and Restore Your Soul,
by Kenneth Winston Caine and Brian Paul
Kaufman (2000). Contains over 500 ways
to use the power of belief, from America’s
leading pastors, counselors, doctors and
for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-Z
Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins,
Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements,
3rd ed., by James F. Balch, MD,
and Phyllis A. Balch, CNC (2000). Detailed
reference book is an excellent resource
for information on wide variety of conditions
and illnesses, written in easy-to-use language.
Recovery (What Extraordinary Healings Tell
Us About Getting Well and Staying Well),
by Caryle Hirshberg and Marc Ian Barasch
(1996). Offers scientific proof that remarkable
recovery from terminal illness happens
more often than expected. Discusses the
powers of the human healing system.
Herbal Health: The Essential Reference
Guide, 5th ed., by Louise Tenney,
MH (2000). Comprehensive coverage of single
herbs and those used in combinations; lists
herbs and uses alphabetically for quick
reference. Also covers standard medical
treatments with their possible side effects.
Community Guide to Fighting for Recovery
From Cancer, by Harold H. Benjamin,
PhD, and Susan M. Love, MD (1995). Offers
strategies cancer patients can use to deal
with the emotional and physical effects
of cancer and treatments, including visualizations,
nutrition, exercise and enhanced personal
from Memorial Sloan-Kettering
New York City’s world-renowned cancer center provides extensive reviews
of herbal supplements and other substances such as cartilage, chitin, calcium
A non-profit organization formed to provide reliable information to patients
and consumers and research resources for health care professionals. Has many
online resource guides about alternative medicine practices (herbal medicine,
acupuncture, Chinese medicine) and health issues (women’s health, cancer).
Medicine Resources, from University of
The Alternative Medicine Homepage is a source of information on unconventiional,
unorthodox, unproven or alternative, complementary, innovative and integrative
Dedicated to promoting the safe and effective use of medicinal plants and herbs.
Site has much information about herbs (types, uses, doses, side effects), publications
and resource information.
Very comprehensive and specific to cancer. Focuses on spreading news, views
and information about access to alternative cancer therapies. Has links to
many current updates, information on lymphedema and bone metastasis.
and Alternative Medicine, from the National
Information on specific complementary and alternative cancer therapies such
as shark cartilage and Coenzyme Q10; also Questions and Answers About Complementary
and Alternative Medicine in Cancer Treatment.
Medicine, from M.D. Anderson
Excellent reference from world-renowned comprehensive cancer center. Offers
reviews of herbal/plant therapies, biological/organic/pharmacological therapies
and much more.
Provides independent testing results for a wide variety of health and nutrition
products. Results include if the products actually contain what they are supposed
to, as well as potential contaminants (such as lead) and whether the body can
absorb the product.
Information, articles and reviews about the health benefits and actions of
different herbs. Includes an “Ask the Experts” page, bookstore,
links and bulletin board.
Has consumer-friendly information about specific herbs and an encyclopedia
of conditions, herbs and supplements, and drug interactions. Easy to use. Named “Best
of the Web” in 2000 by Forbes.com magazine for alternative medicine.