Integrative Medicine: A Patient’s View

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When Barbara Lee Epstein was diagnosed with a rare form of nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. She needed help with anxiety that kept her from getting to sleep. And she needed the emotional strength to keep fighting in the face of a life-threatening illness that struck not once, but twice.

While she was undergoing surgeries, hospitalizations, and chemotherapy sessions, Epstein surrounded herself with a battalion of nontraditional healers: acupuncturists, reflexologists, therapists trained in meditation and guided imagery, and a medical doctor who prescribed medicinal herbs.

“I have a tremendous support system,” says the single, 53-year-old New Yorker, a former magazine advertising sales representative.

The Appeal of Integrative Medicine

Epstein’s story highlights the appeal of psychiatrist, helps Epstein to feel cared for and less alone. “If you’re like me, where you’re not working and you’ve got a lot of free time during the day, it’s hard. I think people who are combating illness can feel pretty isolated.”

Epstein also embraces meditation as a means of marshalling hope and gaining some sense of control. “It’s very empowering,” she says. That’s crucial because her cancer recurred in 2004, and she’s been battling since then to beat the disease a second time.

“For me, the meditation reinforces all the other things that I’m doing. I’m on chemo and I’m doing the traditional medical treatment. The meditation makes me feel that I’m doing something above and beyond to put this back into remission or to cure it.”