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

Return to Top

Oncology Massage Therapy


Massage soothes the body, calms the mind and revives the spirit of cancer patients and caregivers. Research suggests that massage helps patients cope with the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment and improves quality of life after treatment.


Oncology Massage has been shown to:

  • Reduce muscular tension
  • Decrease stress, anxiety and fatigue
  • Reduce post-operative swelling
  • Lessen the discomfort of neuropathy
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve flexibility and range of motion
  • Increase immune system function
  • Slow the formation of scar tissue
  • Eliminate toxins from the body

What is Oncology Massage?

Massage is a "hands on" treatment in which a therapist manipulates muscles and other soft tissues of the body to improve health and well being. Varieties of massage range from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to deeper manual techniques. Massage takes place on a table and the patient may wear minimal clothing and is covered by a sheet, light blanket, or towel. Oils or lotions are often used to keep friction from irritating the skin and soothing music and dim lighting are often added to increase relaxation.

Using an Oncology Massage Therapist is important because they are specially trained to meet people where they are in their experience with cancer and to apply a highly individualized treatment to comfort, nurture and support them in their process.  

How does it work?

Studies indicate that, although massage affects the body as a whole, it particularly influences the activity of the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and more completely. Scientific studies have shown that massage suppresses inflammation and actually enhances cell recovery. Evidence also shows that it releases endorphins from the brain, which makes massage particularly effective for the management of pain.

Studies and additional resources:

Source:  University of Maryland MedicalCenter 

Source: The American Cancer Society


Source: MD Anderson: Oncology Massage improves quality of life for cancer patients

Therapists: Anita Dean, LMT | Kim Boomhower, LMT 

Return to Top

Lymphedema Treatment

There are specialized techniques to help patients with the effects of Lymphedema. Lymphedema Treatment is a combination of education and “hands-on” treatment that helps patients learn to successfully manage lymphedema in their lives.

Lymphedema Treatment generally includes a combination of:

  • Manual lymph drainage/massage
  • Compression bandaging
  • Skincare work
  • Exercises

This specialized treatment is effective for:

  • Moving excess lymph fluid to allow for efficient drainage
  • Reducing swelling and discomfort
  • Eliminating toxins from the body
  • Keeping the skin supple and healthy


What is Lymphedema and how is it treated?

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 the side effects that may develop.


 How does Lymphedema Treatment work?

Lymphatic Massage is a specialized hands-on technique that gently stimulates the action of the lymph vessels to move excess lymphatic fluid and protein from a swollen area to a part of the body where it can drain more effectively. After Lymphatic Massage, the therapist may wrap 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 patients are advised to wear a compression garment during the day and bandaging or use of a “night” sleeve during sleep.

The massage therapists at the Sari Center are specially trained, licensed and certified and 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.


Studies and additional resources:

  • Source: Cancer Research UK : Lowering your risk of lymphedema


  • National Lymphedema Network: Website with information and resources for patients


Lymphatic Specialists: Christine Morgan, LMT, CLT, Kim Boomhower, LMT

Return to Top


Nutrition Counseling

Nutrition is a very important component to cancer treatment and prevention. During treatment, optimal nutrition can help a patient by managing or alleviating the side effects of chemo, radiation and surgery. So… Let’s Get Real About Nutrition!

Nutrition can benefit the mind and body with:

  • Increased mental and physical energy
  • Decreased nausea and vomiting
  • Maintenance of a healthy weight during treatment
  • Reduced feelings of sadness and improved mood
  • Decreased pain and discomfort
  • Balanced digestion
  • Reduced risk of  recurrence
  • Relief of long-term side effects of treatment
  • Preservation of muscle mass

What is Oncology Specific Nutritional Counseling?

Cancer patients have special needs regarding nutrition and require specific guidance regarding their diet. First, the dietitian will obtain a detailed diet history. Using this information, realistic meal plans will be formulated to incorporate the right foods into the patient’s diet and to eliminate those foods that may cause digestive issues during treatment.


How does Nutrition affect the body?

In order to work efficiently, you need the energy that a healthy diet provides. When you have cancer, changes can occur in your need for and ability to process nutrients. These changes can lead to poor nutrition, resulting in fatigue. For example, you may need more nutrients than usual or you may not be able to process nutrients adequately. You may also take in fewer nutrients if your appetite wanes or if treatment side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, make it difficult to eat. For these reasons it is important to have nutritional guidance from a cancer specialist.


Studies and additional resources:

  • Source: MD Anderson: What you eat matters… eating a primarily plant-based, whole foods diet including a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains is beneficial for preventing disease and improving health.


  • Source: Johns Hopkins: What we eat affects how we feel.



  • Source: National Cancer Institute at National Institute of Health: Good nutrition is important for cancer patients.

Nutritionists: Rhonda McGovern, MA, RD, LD | Lee Cotton, RDN

Return to Top



Scientists, physicians and researchers have been using hypnosis as a component of patient care since the 1800’s. Although hypnosis is colorful and controversial, it is now routinely being used in many of the most prestigious cancer centers throughout the country, such as MD Anderson, Sloan Kettering, and Johns Hopkins.

Hypnosis has been shown to:

  • Relieve nausea and vomiting
  • Reduce or eliminate night sweats and hot flashes
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Halt the progression of fatigue due to chemotherapy and radiation
  • Reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Decrease the need for post treatment medication
  • Lessen the amount of anesthesia necessary prior to and during surgery
  • Promote healing after surgery
  • Eliminate sleep issues


What is Hypnosis? 

Hypnosis is considered a mind-body therapy which uses the mind to alter and affect the body. The use of hypnosis in a medical environment empowers patients who are faced with a perceived loss of control and generally improves satisfaction with medical procedures and the treatment experience.  While hypnosis sessions may vary depending on a patient’s needs, a hypnosis session typically comprises two basic phases:

Induction - During this phase, the therapist helps the patient to relax, and may ask the patient to imagine a peaceful scene that helps him or her to become more focused and concentrate on what is to be accomplished during the session.

Application - During this phase, the patient receives suggestions. Hypnotic suggestions, the key ingredient of hypnosis, are special statements that are designed to suggest relief from troubling symptoms.

How does it work?

Hypnosis produces an altered state of consciousness, awareness, or perception. The hypnotic state is a highly relaxed state in which the patient’s mind (conscious and subconscious) is focused and receptive to therapeutic suggestion. It involves using one’s mind to manage emotional distress, (e.g., anxiety, stress), unpleasant physical symptoms (e.g., pain, nausea), or to help change certain habits or behaviors (e.g., overeating, smoking).


Studies and additional resources:

  • A summary of a variety of clinical trials for pain, nausea, sleep issues, fatigue and hot flashes

Hypnotherapist: Susanne Hilton, CHt

Return to Top

Healing Touch

Healing Touch is being used around the globe in hospitals, integrative centers, clinics, hospice settings, spas and more.

Research suggests the following are benefits of Healing Touch:

  • boosts the immune system
  • relax and balance the body before surgery and to speed post-operative recovery
  • improved wound healing especially related to surgery or radiation
  • reduced fatigue
  • decreased discomfort/pain
  • improved sleep
  • improved mental clarity following chemotherapy
  • reduced stress levels


What is Healing Touch?

Healing Touch is a biofield therapy that is an energy-based, holistic approach to health and well-being.

Energy Healing therapies rebalance, align and unblock the energy flow and support the body’s natural healing abilities by influencing the human energy field. Healing Touch works with your energy field to support your natural ability to heal. It is safe for all ages and works in harmony with all standard or allopathic medical care. This gentle approach can be relaxing and nurturing as you remain fully clothed.


How does it work?

Healing Touch is grounded in a variety of long-standing energy therapies from different eastern and western cultures. The root principle is that Energy is constantly flowing in and around the body. When your energy becomes blocked or unbalanced, pain, disease, and emotional distress can result. Healing Touch practitioners are trained in sensing energy. The goal during any session is to restore balance and promote physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing and wellness. Healing Touch is non-invasive and does not require touch if preferred.


Studies and additional resources:

Therapist: Maria Diaz, By Referral

Return to Top


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

Return to Top



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

Return to Top


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

Return to Top


Return to Top