The charity, which is the UK’s leading provider of information and practical and emotional support to people with breast cancer, receives regular calls to its helpline from people asking about complementary therapies.
Many callers are unsure about the types of therapies that exist, and how they can work alongside conventional medical treatment for breast cancer. This new booklet explains the types of therapies available, and looks at some of the issues to consider before trying a therapy.
Antonia Dean, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care, stressed that while complementary therapies are best used alongside conventional medical treatment, they can still have a very important role to play in helping people with breast cancer.
“From speaking to people we know just how beneficial therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and yoga can be,” she said.
“Not only can they help people manage some of the side effects of conventional treatment, but by using therapies women, and men, with breast cancer can gain a sense of relaxation, control and wellbeing.
Complementary therapies look at the whole person, including their physical and emotional wellbeing, which can be a perfect approach for people who have been through, or are facing, treatment for breast cancer.
“However it’s always important that people inform the doctors and nurses involved in their care what complementary therapies they are using, as certain herbs and supplements can sometimes interact with conventional treatment.”
Kath Wall, from Darlington, County Durham, used acupuncture to reduce the side effects of her treatment for breast cancer in 2001.
“It was effective at reducing the hot flushes, but it also had emotional benefits, rebuilding my confidence, making me feel more sure of myself and able to face the world again,” she said.
“Complementary therapies are not everyone’s choice, but they certainly helped me. This new booklet from Breast Cancer Care is a great introduction to the range of options out there, and how they could help with some of the physical and emotional issues someone might be facing.”
The booklet contains a list of professional organisations that can provide further details on local registered practitioners.
Breast Cancer Care also has a dedicated section on its on-line discussion forums where people can share experiences of complementary therapies. (http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/bcc-forum/20/)
“We strongly believe in the power of patients sharing information with each other, which is why we have this special section on our discussion forums,” Antonia said.
The Complementary Therapies booklet is backed by former BBC ‘Green Goddess’ Diana Moran, who has had breast cancer herself.
“I’ve always been an advocate for exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Complementary therapies play an important part in that, especially when you are recovering from a serious illness,” she said.
“It can be hard for people who have undergone breast cancer treatment to know which complementary therapies could benefit them, as there are so many options with each offering different benefits.
“While this high level of choice could be seen as daunting, it does mean that there is something out there for everyone. I know that this new booklet will be a great source of information and inspiration for anyone who has had breast cancer and is interested in trying out complementary therapies.”
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For a copy of the Complementary Therapies booklet, go to: http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/docs/complementary_therapies_aug07_0.pdf
Breast Cancer Care has been working for over 30 years to make a difference in the lives of people affected by breast cancer. We provide accurate, easy to understand information as well as practical and emotional support. We are the only charity working across the UK to provide these services. Every year we receive almost two million requests for support and information through our services including our helpline, website, publications, person to person support and health promoting activities, all of which are offered free. We are committed to campaigning for better treatment and support for people with breast cancer and their families.
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