Chemo, cancer and alternative therapies & treatment?

Yesterday I held my girlfriends hand as she squeezed it, ever so tightly, as the nurse injected the chemotherapy into her port. For a brief moment, I thought my fingers would break as she squeezed. Then, a sigh of relief.

For the next 1-½ hours, we discussed life, men, politics, philanthropy, children, shopping, and yes, even my blog (as she’s an avid and faithful reader).

What amazed me most about Memorial Breast Cancer Center is that it incorporates the best of Western and Eastern philosophies to complement the traditional treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.

Instead of exam room #1 … #9, each room has Chinese lettering, and beneath it the rooms are named (such as Freedom, Peace, Beauty, Tranquility). Women have the option to participate in alternative therapies, including acupuncture, massage therapy and Chinese herbal medicine.

Why do I feel this is so important? Because, unfortunately, it is not the first time I’ve sat holding one’s hand during chemo treatment. The entire “aurora” was peaceful, calming, gorgeous décor, almost like a spa atmosphere. A stark contrast to Mount Sinai Medical Center which put all the woman receiving chemo in a “circular pit”, no privacy and cold, sterile hospital décor. Here, the feeling reminded me of serenity, of a peaceful place. The nurses offered not only the patient’s warm, heated blankets but the friends, as well.

When my friend mentioned that the I.V. tubing for this particular round of chemo had to be specialized, because the chemicals would burn right through the normal plastic tubing of IV’s, it made me shudder.

My girlfriend did something really smart … she sent out an email to her friends asking for S P E C I F I C areas of help. I told her, “This is the greatest gift you can give your friends. Often, people don’t know how they can help (other than to send flowers.) Flowers are awesome and immediately after a mastectomy, while in the hospital, they are great (Check out Proflowers -- great deals), but often cancer patients need assistance driving to and from chemo, picking up groceries, picking up kids from carpool, going shopping for wigs (check out Beauty Trends and get FREE shipping and handling on first order over $50.00, plus a FREE instructional video with first wig purchased.

To me, the millisecond that I received her “help needed” email, I responded as a willing and able driver. She told me that within the hour, more friends had offered than she knew what to do.

My advice to cancer patients – reach out and ask for specific help. It makes your friends feel better than you will ever realize!!

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