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Acupuncture and cancer – my father’s journey

This year I have been especially grateful to be an Acupuncturist, as my skills have been just what my family needed.

In August, my 81-year-old father was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  The good news was that scans showed the cancer was isolated in the pancreas.  The bad news was that my father would need chemotherapy. His age, and the fact that he already struggles with dementia, was sure to add challenges to his treatment plan.  As with all patients, we didn’t know how my father’s body would respond to the chemotherapy. Side effects we were told to expect were mouth sours, neuropathy, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

I immediately stepped up his acupuncture treatments and made sure he received acupuncture before and after his treatments. I also placed press needles on points to prevent nausea. During his treatment, my father did great! He never missed a treatment due to low platelets. He never even threw up and maintained his prediagnosis weight within 5 pounds.

As my dad’s treatments progressed, his tumor markers declined at each two-month interval; he definitely surpassed all his doctors’ expectations!

Now a skeptic my ask, “How do you know that it was the acupuncture that helped?” My dad’s treatments were coordinated through MDAnderson Cancer Center and for the second phase of his treatment he traveled to Houston for five weeks of radiation.  Unfortunately, I was unable to stay in Houston and my father did not receive acupuncture treatments.  During those five weeks dad really struggled. He lost 25 pounds and the side effects doctors expected during the heavy chemotherapy started to present themselves.  That was enough evidence for me.

Now dad is back home, getting regular acupuncture and recovering well.  I am so grateful to have been able to make a very difficult journey more tolerable for him.

If you have a loved one going through cancer treatments, please consider acupuncture.  While it is completely counterintuitive, the needles are very relaxing.  The treatments can maximize your loved one’s good days and perhaps enhance their recovery.

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