I’m often asked if there are good resources available for cancer support. Because I know from personal experience that dealing with cancer is one of the toughest journeys a person can take, I’m sharing some things that were useful to me during my own journey in the hope that they’ll help you, too.
Life Over Cancer is a book by Keith Block, medical director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Evanston, Illinois. It talks about what you can do when you’re going through treatment and also what you can do after treatment—a vitally important topic that isn’t always discussed.
Dr. Block is on the cutting edge of integrative oncology, but you don’t have to go to the Block Center to reap the benefits of his expertise. This book is incredibly informative, and I can’t overemphasize its value as a resource.
Another book that I love is called One Bite at a Time by renowned chef Rebecca Katz. It goes through in detail what to do when you’re going through treatment and it’s hard to eat—whether it’s because you feel sick to your stomach, food is not going down well, you have mouth sores, or you simply don’t have an appetite.
Katz has a wonderful way of taking you through what you can do to strengthen yourself and what you can do to ease some of the discomfort or side effects from your treatment. She also talks about what you can do after treatment to get your strength back and how to handle issues like changed tastes.
As far as getting through the treatments themselves, I think guided imagery can be incredibly helpful. Belleruth Naparstek is one of the most skilled guided imagery teachers/mentors/therapists I’ve ever known. She has a series of audio recordings that can be used when you’re going through treatment, including specific ones for surgery preparation, chemotherapy, and radiation. She also offers guided imagery for coping with issues like insomnia and anxiety.
I listened to these recordings during my treatment, and I can’t tell you how much peace they brought me. I’ve also given them as gifts to people who said that just listening to Naparstek’s voice was deeply soothing and healing.
Acupuncture can be wonderfully supportive, both during and after cancer treatment. I had weekly acupuncture sessions when I was going through chemo and radiation. I found that not only did acupuncture ease some of the side effects I was experiencing, it was also incredibly energizing—my husband always commented on how much better I looked after receiving acupuncture.
I strongly suggest checking with your cancer center or hospital about adjunct therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, or reiki. Seek out these services, and take advantage of whatever is offered to you.
As a physician who had cancer, I know firsthand how scary and confusing this disease can be. May these recommendations help you feel a little less overwhelmed as you work on caring for yourself or a loved one.