Ovarian Cancer Complementary Therapies

Ovarian Cancer Complementary Therapies

The Power of Complementary Therapies in Dealing with Ovarian Cancer

Imagine being able to visualize your cancer treatment as tiny smart bombs travelling through your body, specifically targeting and destroying cancer cells. This creative visualization technique was employed by Maureen Peltier, a 76-year-old ovarian cancer fighter, to help her cope with the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy. The visualization exercises not only improved her experience of the treatment but also boosted her confidence and sense of control over her disease. Peltier’s story is just one example of how complementary therapies can play a valuable role in cancer treatment and management.

Recognizing the Benefits of Complementary Therapies

Research suggests that at least half of all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer turn to complementary therapies to enhance their treatment experience. These therapies can include a range of strategies such as herbal remedies, dietary supplements, relaxation techniques like meditation or guided imagery, and practices like acupuncture or massage. Previously dismissed as quack treatments, complementary therapies are now recognized by most doctors as potential allies in the fight against cancer. Dr. Rachel Grisham, a medical oncologist specializing in ovarian cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, emphasizes the importance of working closely with healthcare providers to ensure that these therapies do not interfere with medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

Harnessing the Power of Acupuncture

One of the most commonly used complementary therapies is acupuncture. This technique involves the insertion of thin needles into specific pressure points in the body. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, studies have shown that acupuncture can help alleviate chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and numbness in the hands and feet. Dr. Larissa Meyer, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, strongly advocates for acupuncture, citing personal belief in its efficacy.

Another area of interest in complementary therapies for ovarian cancer is dietary supplements. However, caution must be exercised when considering these supplements, especially during chemotherapy. It is crucial to consult with a doctor before introducing any supplements into the treatment regimen. Some of the supplements that have shown potential benefits include:

  • Quercetin: Found naturally in fruits and vegetables such as apples, onions, cherries, and citrus fruits, quercetin has demonstrated the ability to slow tumor growth.
  • Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi: This Chinese herb has shown promise in limiting the growth of cancer cells, including ovarian cancer cells.
  • Wheat germ extract: Developed by a Hungarian chemist, wheat germ extract complements certain chemotherapy drugs in treating ovarian cancer more effectively.
  • Vitamin D: Although touted as a potential preventive measure against ovarian cancer, studies have not found conclusive evidence to support this claim.
  • Turmeric: Rich in curcumin, a powerful antioxidant, turmeric has exhibited anti-cancer properties. However, it may interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Yoga and Tai Chi

Relaxation-based movement therapies like yoga and tai chi have also been shown to provide relief during cancer treatment. A short 15-minute yoga session prior to chemotherapy helped reduce anxiety and promote relaxation in women with ovarian cancer. Additionally, a study involving women with breast or ovarian cancer found that 10 weekly yoga classes significantly reduced levels of fatigue, depression, and anxiety in the patients.

Harnessing the Power of Relaxation Exercises

Relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing and guided imagery, can effectively alleviate stress and enhance overall treatment experience. Deep belly breathing, where breaths are taken deep enough to feel the belly expand, followed by slow exhalation, can bring about a sense of calm. Mantra meditation involves focusing on a word or sound, enabling the mind to remain in the present moment. Guided imagery, on the other hand, involves visualizing a peaceful scene or setting, such as a favorite beach, while engaging in belly breathing.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If you are interested in exploring complementary therapies to enhance your ovarian cancer treatment, it is essential to consult with your medical provider. Even seemingly safe therapies can potentially interfere with your ongoing cancer treatment. Your healthcare provider can also offer valuable insights regarding the research supporting specific therapies. Many hospitals and cancer centers house integrative medicine departments, which work collaboratively with patients to identify safe and effective therapies. It is important not to shy away from discussing these possibilities with your doctor, as they are there to address any questions or concerns and provide you with the best possible care.

By embracing the power of complementary therapies, women like Maureen Peltier have found comfort, control, and confidence in the face of ovarian cancer. Whether through visualization exercises, acupuncture, dietary supplements, movement therapies, or relaxation exercises, these therapies have the potential to enhance the quality of life for ovarian cancer patients. While each individual’s experience may vary, the exploration of complementary therapies can empower cancer fighters and offer them a sense of agency in their healing journey.