I had a patient come in today with a story so exciting, I had to share it (I got permission first, of course!). This patient is a woman who was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer about a year and a half ago. She completed her course of radiation and chemotherapy and after the treatments the tumor was somewhat reduced in size but was wrapped around her aorta and was positioned so that it would be difficult to try any additional therapies that might be helpful in permanently destroying the tumor. Her Oncologists told her that cancer would likely spread to either her bones, lymph system or brain and that the 5 year survival rate was around 5%. They also explained that another course of radiation and/or chemo was probable. She was told to come back for a PET scan in 3 months.
I first met her in July when she came into my office for Acupuncture to treat the neuropathy the Chemo had left in her feet. She was experiencing debilitating pain and was taking prescription pain killers to function and to be able to sleep. She immediately saw improvement in the neuropathy and after 5 treatments her pain levels were down by about 90%. Although the neuropathy is always our main focus I have always done additional points to benefit her lungs, to address phlegm nodules (TCM for the tumor) and general constitutional points good for anyone with a history of cancer. She went in for her PET scan this month and was expecting to be told she would need to do another course of treatment. The results were quite different than anyone expected!
The doctors have called her a “miracle patient” because they have searched her body thru and thru… and there does not seem to be any other cancer lurking which is good for her, but uncommon in general. AND the PET scan showed that the tumor had gotten significantly smaller in the last 3 months, was NO longer wrapped around her aorta and was in a position that made it easy for the doctors to see and get to which makes her a good candidate for a procedure known as the Novalis treatment. This treatment is a new laser technique used to destroy tumors without harming the surrounding tissue. With this new information, it would seem as though she will be making a complete recovery from a disease that has a 5% survival rate.
As she told me this, I had goose bumps and thought that this story was as Inspiring as they get! Although Chemo can stay in the system and continue to work even after it has stopped being administered… there is no clear explanation for the significant changes in the tumor. She told me she had been keeping a positive outlook, had friends and family praying for her… and of course had been doing Acupuncture. She asked if Acupuncture could be responsible for the changes and because I cannot be certain, I could not say yes… so we both agreed, why look a gift horse in the mouth. But after thinking about it… and after thinking about other phenomenal experiences/results I’ve had in treating other cancer patients… I have to wonder at what point do I stop being so casual about the success of their treatments and start to wonder if maybe Acupuncture does play a larger role in their health than even I am giving it credit for!
Until I can know the answer for sure, I will continue to be humble, I will continue to practice the best Acupuncture I know how to, I will continue to give excellent care to my patients and I will continue to look forward to helping more people achieve their health goals!