When you are newly diagnosed with cancer, it may be overwhelming. Your mind may be racing trying to figure out how it happened, what it means and where you are headed. You may feel stressed and lost.
This is common. But the good news is that help and hope are available right in your community.
The Integrative Medicine program at Doylestown Health’s Cancer Institute gives patients with cancer a variety of options to address not just their physical health but their happiness, as well.
“Cancer is a diagnosis that makes you look at your own mortality, no matter what stage or cancer type,” says Donna Angotti, MD, director of Oncology Service Line and director of the Integrative Medicine program at Doylestown Health. “In that moment, almost every patient looks at what might have contributed to their cancer forming. But that is the same moment when they’re most likely to make important changes in the betterment of their health.”
Dr. Angotti explains her interest in integrative medicine emerged after she had her own health issue that was based in a medical problem. “I found support and healing through a few of the integrative modalities and that got me interested in learning more,” she says.
Because of that experience, she immersed herself in information and training on the topic and decided to head up the Integrative Medicine program at Doylestown Health in 2014.
What Is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine combines standard medicine with complementary and alternative practices that have shown through science to be safe and effective, according to information from the National Cancer Institute. In other words, it safely combines the best of traditional treatments with the best of complementary and alternative therapies that can be individualized for each patient.
Through the Integrative Medicine program at Doylestown Health, patients are offered services like a nutrition program and grocery tour, reiki (healing touch), guided imagery, massage and a Cancer Fit program — a medically supervised program that takes place at Cornerstone Health and Fitness — to name just a few.
The best part of the Integrative Medicine program? It’s all free to patients.
How it Works
Once patients are diagnosed with cancer, they will be connected to any and all services that they might be interested in. They are also assigned to a nurse navigator who helps them traverse their journey in health and wellness. An additional dose of support comes from Amy Stein, MSW, LCSW, a social worker at the Cancer Institute, who has her pulse on the best medical and community resources and services in the area.
“I think what makes us different is that we are providing comprehensive holistic and support services but in a traditional medical setting,” says Rachel Saks, MSS, LSW, director of Cancer Services at Doylestown Health. “It’s important to have a medical provider overseeing and approving these additional treatments with their cancer care.”
And patients in the Integrative Medicine program are raving about it. For example, after going through the nutrition program, many patients have told Dr. Angotti how much better they feel being on a plant-based diet, and they often lose weight. Acupuncture is another treatment that patients appreciate. “A few acupuncture sessions can bring relief from side effects of hormone-based therapies and many if not all patients report significantly improved sleep patterns,” she explains.
In addition, Doylestown Health patients are able to access all the services of the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia free of charge. As part of that program, patients can participate in educational lectures in partnership with the Doylestown Health physicians and medical professionals, as well as support groups, individual counseling and various mind-body programs like yoga, art therapy, beading, painting and other types of crafting.
“These programs are geared toward providing people with an opportunity to build a community around their cancer experience,” says Beth Cribb, MSW, LCSW, program director with the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia. “So they don’t feel alone in their journey.”
Because of the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the emotional support programs moved online. However, Beth foresees the in-person programs coming back soon. Regardless, the programs will likely continue to have an online component, which can be especially helpful for patients who might not be feeling well but still want to connect with their community, she explains.
Overall, Dr. Angotti says that the goal is for patients to feel better, no matter their diagnosis or what integrative medicine intervention they choose. “We hear patients and respond with support and services that help them return to a state of wholeness and better health than even before a cancer diagnosis,” she says.
For more information about the Integrative Medicine program, contact 267.885.1580.
For more information on cancer community supports, visit the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia.
About Doylestown Health Cancer Institute
Doylestown Health Cancer Institute offers patients the quality care they expect from a leader in cancer diagnosis and treatment - close to home. Accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and a member of Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Network, our board-certified physicians and oncology-certified practitioners provide comprehensive, coordinated care and services for the full range of cancer diagnoses including breast, lung, urologic, gastrointestinal and other cancers.