Today many patients are interested in exploring complementary medicine — products or practices that might relieve disease symptoms or the side effects of treatment while they are undergoing standard treatment. Acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal products, aromatherapy, yoga and meditation are just a few examples of complementary therapies.
Starting this winter, Roswell Park will periodically present Wellness Wednesdays, an event where patients and the general public can learn more about complementary therapies from community providers. The first two events take place Jan. 17 and Jan. 31 from 2-3 p.m. in the lobby of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center. Over the next several months, programs will feature:
- Contemplative space/meditation
- Plant-based diets
Wellness Wednesdays began with a conversation between Amy Lesakowski, Operations Coordinator in Patient Education at Roswell Park and an eight-year survivor of breast cancer; Bryan Wittmeyer, MS, PT, Director of Rehabilitation Therapy and Wellness Services; and Kara Eaton, MA, Executive Director of the Office of the Patient and Family Experience.
Lesakowski says she was excited to be involved in creating the program. "When I went through treatment, I also looked for complementary treatment that I could manage myself. I wanted to provide self-care and stress reduction, but I had to do my own research.
"Wellness encompasses emotional, financial, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual elements, and all those things are very important in general, but to our patients, they mean so much more."
Eaton says the new program took shape because "Roswell Park acknowledges that patients and families are looking for complementary medicine, therapies and practices to aid them through treatment, recovery, and ultimately, survivorship."
“We want to give our patients the information they need so they’re not doing the wrong thing,” adds Wittmeyer. “We started vetting community complementary medicine providers, making sure that they had an understanding of the special needs our patients have.”
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The event is free and open to the public, and there’s no need to register. Healthy snacks will be provided by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Quality of Life Grant Program.
Remember, talk with your doctor before you begin any complementary therapy. Even products that seem safe — for example, herbal teas or vitamins — can affect your treatments and might even be harmful.