Complementary Therapies During Chemotherapy

Complementary Therapies During Chemotherapy

Two days out from round two of intravenous TAC (Taxotere, Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide) Chemotherapy. And I have a cold.  OY.

I sure could use just a little break.  Even a teeny tiny one.  I know that Silver Linings are lurking.  Come on out, wherever you are!

Oh, here’s one:  I’m officially 1/3 of the way of being DONE with Chemo.  That’s a huge SL, right?

Today, I had an acupuncture appointment at the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic. A dear friend drove me there because I was such a Puke Face that I couldn’t possibly operate a farm implement, much less drive a car.  I went with high hopes that something (anything!) would turn these F-Bomb side effects OFF.

This is one acupuncture point for nausea [3.

Master Herbalist Dr. Henry Han, OMD, CA & MD, has practiced traditional Chinese Medicine at Santa Barbara Herb Clinic since 1991. The herbal formulas he creates specifically for each patient are prepared at the on-site pharmacy. His treatments also include acupuncture, acupressure, transdermal ionization with herbal hot packs, and other traditional Chinese healing modalities. [2.]

One of the great things about Dr. Han (in addition to the above) is that he collaborates with my Oncologist (and vice versa).  As in they TALK. On the PHONE.  In my nursing practice, I have never witnessed such a thing.  I LOVE it.

First, I met with Dr. Han in his office to discuss my “symptoms”.  The list was almost laughable.  Actually the list IS laughable.

  • Cold?  YES
  • Thirsty? YES
  • Appetite?  ABSOLUTELY NOT
  • Headache?  YES
  • Fatigue?  SERIOUSLY?  I’m completely exhausted, though I lay awake counting sheep….wishing, pining, and agonizing for some restful sleep.  Not on FBC’s watch – no way!  I’ve been up since 4:00 am this morning. This is such a pickle for me. I’ve always been a world-class sleeper.  When tired, I could sleep anywhere, anytime.  Now?  Nothing. Nada.  To complicate this insomnia is my utter inability focus on anything, like reading, looking at magazines or even watching television (I have absolutely no idea how I’m writing this or if I’m making any sense whatsoever!).
  • To Dr. Han’s list, I added bone pain.  Of course.  Bone pain, as you may recall is courtesy of yesterday’s $6000 shot that is intended to help prevent infection by stimulating the body make neutrophils (cells of the immune system).

In addition to these symptoms, he noted that my pulses are “thin and weak” and that having chemo and a cold is a “double whammy”. So, there was some serious work to do. DUH.

Into the room acupuncture room we went. First, Dr. Han rubbed a bunch of herbs (in lotion form) on my bloated, distended belly on top of which he  put plastic wrap followed by a very special heating pad that ensures that the herbs are absorbed into the body.  Of course this special transdermal ionization heating pad device can only be bought in China.  It felt sooooo good because it was so warm.  Hey!  There’s a SL!

Next up: needles in every imaginable anti nausea site (in the hands, legs and feet).  As he left the room, he said, “Just breathe.”  OK. I’ll work on that.

Then, one of his assistants came in to do moxibustion (the application of heat resulting from the burning of a small bundle of tightly bound herbs, or moxa, to targeted acupoints) [3.] on top of the needles…at least that’s what it felt like.  The moxibustion is really, really warm which was another SL to this cold body. As the assistant left, he also said, “Just breathe.”  OK.  Still working on that.

I have to say that I left the clinic feeling just about the same as when I walked in, but perhaps a little more relaxed. I’ll take that as a SL. After all, better to be relaxed than wound up.

Dr. Han sent me home with some (foul smelling and even fouler tasting) herbs.  These herbs are cooked into a “tea”.  Now, I am a tea drinker and to liken the Chinese medicinal herbal tea to my stash of Ladurée tea from Paris is just not right.  However, home I went. Herbs in hand. Hopes high.

The rest of the day was filled with SL’s (as long as I ignored these pesky symptoms):

  1. A special visit with a dear friend, full of stories, laughter and creativity.
  2. Our 4 3/4 daughter told me that she loves me “more than anything in the whole wide world…even if I am bald.” Dreamy.
  3. A (pillow-padded) snuggle with The Husband of the Year (HOTY).  Heaven.

The appearance of a disease is swift as an arrow; its disappearance slow, like a thread.

~Chinese Proverb


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  1. Mary Beth says

    Hollye, this FBC really, really sucks! Hoping (and believing) that the herbalist will have a healing effect – if not felt immediately then later.
    Sending you healing energy and every SL imaginable from Chicago for all 8 of these side effects (or is it 9 now)!