Integrative Medicine Program for Cancer Patients

By: Jummy Olabanji Email
By: Jummy Olabanji Email

April 23, 2007

Alternative therapy for cancer treatment is becoming more popular at hospitals around the country, including UVa Medical Center.

The program is only two years old, but already patients are taking advantage of some of the alternative practices including hypnosis, massage therapy and acupuncture.

“Sometimes people have side effects from chemotherapy or surgery that they don't want to take medications for per se. They’ve taken a lot of medication because of their treatments, and they prefer to manage them in different ways,” said Dr. Lora Baum.

Dr. Baum is a psychologist who specializes in guided imagery.

“Guided imagery is a way to help people focus their daydreams. It’s a way to make images appear as if they are real in terms of someone's experience,” said Dr. Baum.

Connie Muscenti was diagnosed with breast cancer more than five years ago.

She found out that she would have to undergo a steady treatment of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

“I don't really like to do medicine and chemicals. I’ve always been kind of a natural foods sort of person,” said Muscenti.

As her treatment began, Muscenti was made aware of Dr. Baum and the integrative medicine services at UVa. She started meeting with Dr. Baum once a week for guided imagery and tells me she immediately noticed a difference.

“The imagery helped me create images that I felt I was in control of and were positive for me, and if I felt like I was in control of it and it was positive for me, I felt like it had a positive benefit on my health and my body,” said Muscenti.

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