|CANCER & TREATMENTS FOR CANCER CENTER PATIENTS PREVENTION & RISK ASSESSMENT CLINICAL TRIALS & RESEARCH LIVING WITH CANCER|
Explore complimentary medicineComplementary, integrative medicine offers healing The first thing you see when you open the door to Evan Foster's bedroom is Bugs and Goofy. Perched on a simple black shelf, the frame can barely contain the drawing of Bugs Bunny. The rabbit is gunning forward on a motorcycle, ears flapping through holes punched in his helmet.
On the shelf below, Goofy is grinning, his eyes squeezed tight, his hands together, maybe mid-clap or maybe in prayer.
This is the work of Evan Foster, a 10-year-old Flint boy who has rhabdosarcoma, a type of cancer that affects muscles in his head.
Evan had always been an athletic kid. He was too busy riding bikes or running or jumping or climbing to sit in one place for long. But after he began treatment for his cancer, he was too tired,so he started to draw instead.
"That was when we all realized he had something special," his father, Al Foster said. "When I first saw his drawings, I thought, 'That's pretty good,' and he just keeps getting better and better."
The Fosters are one of many families who have discovered that healing therapy goes beyond what's available in the infusion area or the operating room. The conventional treatment plan developed by a health-care team is the first line of attack in fighting cancer. But for many, complementary therapies serve as reinforcements.
Sorting out the options
Broadly speaking, complementary therapies are services that patients can use in conjunction with a conventional treatment plan. It may include art therapy-as in the Fosters' case- music therapy, guided imagery, yoga or any of a number of other practices that help to promote a mind-body connection.
"We're interested in providing outlets for people to be inspired, to heal gently, to seek adjuncts to their regime to foster a sense of well-being," said Donna Murphy, director of Complementary Therapies at the U-M Cancer Center. "Patients and caregivers tell us they come away from our programs with a sense of feeling uplifted in some way. The interactions help to provide them with hope in light of not knowing what their diagnosis could mean for them now and in the future."
Print the spring, 2008 issue of Thrive