According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 212,900 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2006. American women are at risk of developing this type cancer 1 in 8 times. Nearly 2 million of them have been treated. The breast cancer death rate has dropped significantly, thanks to early detection and improved chemotherapy. Every year, more survivors are being diagnosed early and receive better chemotherapy and other treatments. [i]
Traditional treatments for breast cancer can cause a host of health problems, just like any other cancer. Low blood cells count, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and low blood sugar often occur after radiation therapy and chemotherapy. A recent study by Dr. Michael Hassett of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston revealed that 16% of patients with breast cancer under the age of 64 required hospital visits to treat side effects of chemotherapy. [ii] The immune system is supported by chemotherapy, which targets all fast-growing cells. Neutropenia is a condition in which the immune system has been weakened by a decrease in white blood cells. High fever from infections is the leading reason for hospitalizations after chemotherapy. Extreme fatigue and anemia due to a low number of red blood cells can also cause anemia.
A growing number of coping strategies are available to help with nausea, including blood transfusions, anti-nausea drugs and lab-made white-blood cell “boosters”. These solutions can be too toxic for some women, or may even cause additional problems. For example, neurtophil activators can cause temporary bone pain because the marrow produces more cells quickly. Leigh Leming (54), a breast cancer survivor, decided to try something new. She is now an Ayurvedic chef because she was unable to eat due to nausea. Before each meal, she drinks a glass ginger, lemon juice, and honey. Leming says that it is the only thing keeping my food down. Wheatgrass juice is also a good option to increase her blood count. 2 ounces of wheatgrass has the same nutrients as 4 pounds of organic.
Leming, a patient at St. Luke’s Hospital Bethlehem, Pennsylvania noticed flyers advertising Reiki sessions. Reiki (pronounced “RAY key”) is an ancient healing system that was discovered in the late 19th-century by Dr. Mikao Ui, a Japanese monk. “Rei” is a Japanese word that means “universal”, and “ki” is a “vital energy” which is similar to “Chi” (in Chinese healing) or “prana” in yoga. Reiki is “universal life energy”, and it works at all levels, including the emotional, spiritual, and physical. Reiki is thought to influence all levels of the body, allowing people to heal themselves gently and dramatically. Reiki can be practiced on the body or over it, as well as at great distances. It is often described as warmth, tingling or deep feelings of love and support.
St. Luke’s Wellness Center friends explained to Leming that they had received Reiki sessions prior to chemotherapy to counter some of their post-chemo reactions. Others have reported a dramatic reduction in their pain after Reiki treatments. Leming experienced some of the pain relief and said, “I forget to take my painkillers after a Reiki treatment.” Leming gathered a group of survivors and patients to learn how Reiki can heal them. . They can feel Reiki flowing through them now that they have received an attunement from a master Reiki teacher. Leming says that although her pain is still there, she feels more peaceful and calm in the face of it.