integrative therapies 


Prestigious cancer research centers, such as Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson, have completed and continue to run clinical trials proving the benefits of acupuncture when added to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Acupuncture is routinely being used in many of the top cancer centers.
Acupuncture has been shown to;
Relieve nausea and vomiting
Relieve dry mouth, night sweats, hot flashes
Reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue
Reduce post-operative swelling
Lessen or eliminate pain
Increase  white blood cell counts 
Decrease the need for medication
Improve chemo-induced neuropathy
Minimize the subsequent side effects of medication
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most widely used forms of healthcare in the world. It is a technique in which thin needles are inserted nearly painlessly into specific points on the body to encourage the body’s natural healing process. All needles are sterile, single use and disposable. 
How does it work?
Studies indicate that acupuncture influences the central and peripheral nervous systems. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and more completely. Evidence shows that it releases endorphins from the brain, which makes acupuncture particularly effective for the management of pain.
Studies and additional resources:
The National Institutes of Health gives a comprehensive explanation of what acupuncture is and how it works to relieve side-effects of cancer treatment, noting the use of acupuncture at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
MD Anderson study finds acupuncture can prevent radiation-induced chronic dry mouth. The researcher states that incorporating acupuncture alongside radiotherapy diminishes the incidence and severity of this side effect.
The University of Colorado Hospital is using acupuncture as an adjunct to cancer treatment. This post looks at acupuncture from the patient/family perspective.
The National Cancer Institute explains how acupuncture affects blood pressure, body temperature, boosts immune system activity and causes the body’s natural painkillers called endorphins to be released. It illustrates the benefits of acupuncture for specific side effects of cancer treatment.

Therapists: Sarah Smith, AP | Andrew Buckner, AP

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Massage Therapy

Many people associate getting a massage with a visit to a spa, but did you know that massage therapy, in combination with traditional medical treatment, has the potential to influence the body to heal in many ways? Massage is much more than just a  "feel good" service. Massage relieves muscle tension and soreness and causes the body to release its natural painkillers. Additionally, massage aides in the elimination of toxic substances from the body, thus reducing stress. Although massage does not cure disease, it can help a patient enter into a deeply relaxed state, allowing for a reduction of stress, pain, anxiety and other symptoms related to illness and treatment.

The use of therapeutic massage in medicine dates back to the 1850s in the U.S. Research indicates that cancer patients who integrate massage therapy into their treatment regimen report improvements with anxiety, pain and fatigue, a reduction in swelling, improvement of lymphatic drainage, in addition to feeling more relaxed and comfortable. There is also evidence that massage can help boost the cancer patient's immune system as well as support individuals experiencing post-operative discomfort.

There are a multitude of other benefits of therapeutic massage including: improved circulation, improved flexibility and range of motion, increased blood supply and nutrition to muscles and organs, improved breathing, and speedier recovery from injuries and surgery. Massage therapy can ease the side effects of treatment by reducing pain and fever, restoring sensation by stimulating nerve endings to reduce neuropathy, slowing the rate of scar formation, and preventing atrophy from forced inactivity.  In addition there are many mental health benefits to massage: stimulation of endorphin release, increased mental relaxation, better sleep, reduced anxiety and stress, and uplifted spirit. 

When we examine the results of the use of massage therapy with people living with cancer, we find that massage increases the effectiveness of traditional medical treatment. Massage soothes the body, calms the mind, and revives the spirit.

Therapists: Anita Dean, LMT | Kim Boomhower, LMT 

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Lymphedema Treatment

Lymphedema Treatment is a combination of education and hands-on treatment that helps patients learn to successfully manage lymphedema in their lives. Lymphedema is a condition that can happen to cancer patients when lymph fluid builds up in the body, resulting in swelling and other possible symptoms. A person's risk for developing lymphedema depends, in part, on the type of procedure or surgery that was done, whether or not lymph nodes were removed, and how the body heals.

Lymphedema Treatment works to reduce side effects which usually develop under the skin of the hand, arm, breast or torso, usually on the same side as the cancer. Treatment is typically a four-part process involving a combination of manual lymphatic massage, compression bandaging, skincare work, and exercise, depending on the degree of edema.

Lymphatic Massage, in the treatment of lymphedema, is a specialized hands-on technique that gently stimulates the action of lymph vessels to move excess lymphatic fluid and protein from a swollen area to a part of the body where it can drain more efficiently. After lymphatic massage, the therapist wraps the area in compression bandaging, which is needed to help the tissue with fluid reflow. Depending on the extent of the swelling, patients are encouraged to commit to follow-up care as often as needed to control the swelling and soften the tissue. When the edema is under control, or in the cases of early onset lymphedema, a compression garment is advised to be worn during the day. Bandaging or use of a "night" sleeve is encouraged during sleep.

The Lymphatic Massage Therapist at the Sari Center is specially trained, licensed and certified to ensure that our patients are being treated according to industry standards. Your lymphatic therapist will monitor your skin closely and recommend the best ways to clean, skin brush, and moisturize the affected area. Also, self massage and lymphatic exercises that can be done at home will be suggested to promote continuity of care and long-term management of this condition.

Lymphatic Specialist: Christine Morgan, LMT, CLT


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Nutrition Counseling

The interdisciplinary team at the Sari Center supports the collaborative effort of educating cancer patients on the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer management and survivorship, especially right at the onset of diagnosis and treatment. The Sari Center has registered dietitians who specialize in oncology-specific nutrition practices. As complementary integrative therapists, the dietitians comprehensively assess an individual's needs and offer appropriate recommendations to promote disease management during and post-cancer treatment.

Nutrition is an important component to cancer treatment and prevention. During treatment, optimal nutrition can help improve strength and increase energy as well as preserve muscle mass. Some of a cancer patient's identified nutrition management issues might include nausea, vomiting, suboptimal appetite, bowel irregularities, malnutrition, and/or general consultation on diet and exercise. Research has been done to determine how food choices can help a cancer patient's chances to improve survival. The dietitians are specially trained in providing individualized nutritional support through all stages of illness, treatment and beyond, supporting each patient and family member with a goal of attaining optimal quality of life for all.

To start, the dietitian will obtain a detailed diet history. Using this information, realistic meal plans will be formulated to incorporate the right foods to achieve nutritional goals while a patient is in treatment. Specific foods and recipes may be suggested to increase intake, and suggestions for meals and snacks will be given for foods that may be better tolerated. Conversely, after treatment, weight maintenance may be the targeted objective. Again, the dietitian together with the patient will create goals to help maintain or lose weight and lower the risk of future recurrence. Additional benefits to consulting with the Sari Center dietitian can include improved mood, reduced stress level, more energy, and less pain. In conjunction with medical treatment, nutrition management is an instrumental component of enhancing a cancer patient's life, especially when paired with daily fitness activity.

Nutritionist: Rhonda St. Clair, MA, RD, LD | Tracy Hritz, MS, RD

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The practice of hypnotherapy is older than recorded history. Scientists, physicians and researchers have been using this practice as a component of patient care since the 1800's. Although the history of hypnosis is colorful and controversial, it is gaining acceptance in modern medical communities as a legitimate technique for altering behavior, transforming negative thinking, and helping the body heal itself. While there is some variance within the medical community as to how exactly hypnosis achieves positive health outcomes, there is no argument as to its value.

Research indicates that changing your thinking changes the brain, which in turn changes a behavior or a physiological response. Our brains respond to positive suggestions, which ultimately facilitate the healing process. Hypnotherapy lends to a level of altered consciousness where distractions are blocked, allowing a person to become completely relaxed while remaining in total control. Hypnotherapy involves unlocking the subconscious mind and changing the existing cues that promote anxiety and pain into improved patterns of relaxation and healing.

The hypnotherapy program at the Sari Center offers a combination of hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Life Coaching techniques. This work helps people heal their minds and bodies, many of whom are chronically ill and experiencing significant levels of pain, anxiety and distress in their daily lives. Whether or not hypnosis works by releasing the brain's natural pain killers, or via the power of suggestion through the unconscious, the end result is the same: hypnosis is a means of reducing pain, promoting relaxation, and decreasing stress. Our hypnotherapists are dedicated to helping patients improve their quality of life and facilitating the healing process.

The interdisciplinary team at the Sari Center encourages cancer patients to consider the integration of hypnotherapy in conjunction with their traditional medical treatment, as a means of enhancing overall quality of life. Hypnotherapy at the Sari Center exists strictly as a coping strategy to help cancer survivors deal with pain and illness. As with all integrative therapies, our goal with hypnotherapy is to support a patient and family's successful treatment journey in collaboration with the medical providers.

Hypnotherapist: Susanne Hilton, CHt

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Healing Touch

By definition, Healing Touch is a biofield therapy that is an energy based approach to creating a sense of peace and well-being. This healing practice is designed to support a cancer patient's journey through treatment and into survivorship by the use of light touch to achieve emotional and physical balance. The method of HT provided at the Sari Center is unique in that it integrates holistic principles within a professional medical model which also educates and empowers our patients. The HT practitioner engages in this form of shared energy therapy while the patient lays fully clothed on a treatment table. The practitioner gently glides her hands over various parts of the body based on the intuitive process that occurs in energy work.

A form of Energy medicine, Healing Touch is an ancient Eastern healing technique used for stress reduction, and sometimes pain relief. It is a relaxing, nurturing energy therapy that assists in balancing physical, emotional, mental & spiritual well-being. It is used in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, particularly as it enhances surgery recovery and accelerates wound healing. HT works to improve the body's natural ability toward balance; it is completely non-invasive and safe.

Healing Touch has been found to be effective in helping every known illness, used in conjunction with medical treatment to relieve stress-related side effects and even strengthen the immune system. There are no known contraindications for this practice. This integrative therapy has been proven to be an excellent complement to traditional forms of cancer treatment, as it is specifically recommended for people with chronic illness and stress. The interdisciplinary team at the Sari Center encourages you to engage in Healing Touch regularly, to support your body's natural healing processes.

Therapist: Lori Wyzyykowski, RN, HNC, CHTP/L

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Group Classes


Therapeutic yoga provides modifications to meet individual needs; anyone can benefit from this practice!  Yoga is an ancient practice that is used to create and maintain balance in the body, mind, and spirit.   Through a combination of body postures and controlled breathing exercises, yoga helps us achieve total peacefulness. Yoga is an aid to maintaining health and can also support the healing process in a variety of ways.  A regular yoga practice can:  ease muscle tension, improve circulation, improve concentration and memory, increase flexibility and balance, ease chronic pain and anxiety, tone and strengthen the body, and support proper functioning of all body systems.The Registered Yoga Teachers at the Sari Center teach their students how to use the techniques they have learned in class as an ongoing self-care practice at home.  Individualized attention and instruction is given to each participant to address specific needs and issues.  Beginners and individuals of all ages, stages, and conditions are encouraged to practice yoga regularly as a complementary therapy to help reduce stress and anxiety, and to promote mind-body awareness and healing.  In collaboration with medical treatment, yoga can greatly impact a person’s ability to mentally cope as well as achieve an overall improved physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.
Instructors: Christen Scott


Guided Meditation

Meditation is a practice that helps us transform the pain, joy, sorrow and happiness of daily living. Also commonly referred to as "mindfulness," meditation teaches the cancer patient to nurture present-moment awareness. Awareness helps us to understand the mind and its relationship with the body. The practice of meditation calms the mind and balances its relationship with the body.

There is a distinct correlation between mental stress and an unhealthy body. It is known that thoughts and emotions have a great impact on wellness. Research shows that meditation is beneficial to cancer patients, especially those having difficulty coping with their illness. The use of meditation in healthcare centers is widely used nowadays, where individuals can learn and practice these skills to promote better health and enhance their quality of life.

Meditation teaches us to find a calm and quiet space, free from distraction. Meditation encourages "being, not doing" which helps patients achieve an improved quality of life during treatment by learning to experience joy in each moment. The Sari Center offers free guided meditation classes, providing cancer patients and their families an opportunity to achieve balance and emotional stability. Patients are encouraged to strive for a daily meditation routine throughout the course of their cancer treatment, with the long-term goal of endorsing it as a lifestyle change for the better.
Therapist: Susanne Hilton, CHt

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The Sari Center has a licensed, trained and highly experienced oncology counselor on staff who addresses the comprehensive issues and unique challenges that arise for each cancer patient and/or significant other. The interdisciplinary team at the Sari Center encourages patients and family members to utilize the free confidential counseling services that are available for every individual affected by cancer. These services exist specifically to help patients and their family members understand, accept, and cope with their illness, from diagnosis through their course of treatment, and even beyond into healthy survivorship.

The integrative psychotherapy services offered at the Sari Center are provided to complement traditional medical treatment and enhance quality of life for all. Individuals, couples, children, families and group support are available and strongly encouraged by the Sari Center team to help the patient and respective support system learn to manage their disease process effectively.

Counselor: Patty Liebman, LCSW, OSW-C

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Support Groups
An integral part of the psychotherapy services offered at the Sari Center are the regularly scheduled support groups. While not exactly therapy in the traditional sense, our support groups exist as a complementary service to medical treatment to provide forums for patients and their loved ones to meet with others who are experiencing similar situations. Led by trained and experienced facilitators, support groups are known to yield positive outcomes for those who regularly attend, who with compassion and understanding, can relate to their peers in ways others simply cannot.

Support Group members are encouraged to make a standing commitment to consistent attendance & group membership, to promote a trusting and cohesive group process. Those interested should contact the Oncology Counselor prior to joining the group to ensure that all individual needs have been appropriately addressed, with a goal that a mutual fit will ultimately occur between the individual and the group. If it is determined that an individual's needs are presently beyond the scope of what the group setting can provide, the Counselor will recommend that the individual seek additional psychosocial support and make referrals accordingly.

Counselor: Patty Liebman, LCSW, OSW-C

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