Picking Up The Pieces: Local Triumphs Thrive
In The Aftermath of Cancer Part 2
Dr. Thomas Patavino D.C., MS, F.I.A.M.A
Last month I decided to share a story of the impact of cancer. It was clear that there was a huge difference between life and “quality of life” even in the absence of disease and remission. Part 2 of this series will further demonstrate that cancer leaves its mark long after the medical community no longer considers it a threat. We some times forget that cancer is indiscriminate and no age is exempt from its destructive path. I wanted to share the story of a 12-year-old patient of mine names Sean who has had his life impacted in the aftermath of cancer.
Sean was born a healthy normal baby much to the delight of his parents. There seemed to be no concerns and everything appeared to be fine. The pediatrician gave Sean a clean bill of health with only the slightest bit of recommendation. Sean had a birthmark below his left knee and the doctor suggested that they keep an eye on it in case it changed over the years. Well, as Sean progressed in age, so did the borders of this pigmentation on his leg. It was decided after a watchful eye that it be removed because of the potential to spread like wildfire. The growth had planted itself fairly deep in Sean's leg and removal required some extensive excision. The result was all of the suspicious growth was removed along with some healthy tissue that was potentially in harm's way.
The good news was the growth was removed and there was no sign of residual damage. However, Sean was left with significant scar tissue. The incisions left a large 6-inch scar from the outside of his knee to the shin area. On the leg of a child, this was extremely noticeable. It looked like a shark attacked him. To complicate matters further, he had a small ulcer that would not heal after the surgery. The tissue was examined by biopsy and determined to be free of malignancy, however it was having difficulty healing. The ulcer would rip open every couple of days and drain. This occurred for about a year and half after the original surgery. Sean's dermatologist provided special bandaging in hopes to heal the wound. Unfortunately, this lasted no more than a day or two. Once again, cancer left its mark despite successful treatment.
Now to some of you, this may sound like a minor concern but the reality is this posed a complication in this young boy's life. Imagine being 12 years old and worrying if your leg will ever be “normal” again. How come other people heal right away and I have this “thing” on my leg that won't get better? Sean is your average kid who enjoyed the same things boys his age were interested in. He played on the basketball team, which he thoroughly enjoyed. The only difference is most kids could take a jump shot without ripping open a hole in their leg the size of an M&M. The protective bandage did little more than keep the wound from becoming infected.
Sean's mother was a patient of mine and she was curious if acupuncture might help Sean. I explained to her that the principals of acupuncture believe whatever ailments we suffer from, be it asthma, pain, addiction, or failure to heal, is due to poor immune function as a result of poor energy flow in our body. Correcting imbalances in our body can potentially remove symptoms regardless of what they might be. Sean would have nothing to lose by trying acupuncture. As you might guess, Sean was reluctant and scared to try acupuncture but he was willing to give it a try.
I picked points that would stimulate energy flow to the leg and knee with hopes of increasing blood flow to help with healing. The first time I treated Sean the skin around the area was significantly thick due to the scarring. The needles were difficult to manipulate and Sean had very little feeling in the damaged area. By the 2 nd and 3 rd treatment, Sean started to have increased feeling in the areas we were treating. The ulcer had actually closed up and there were tiny droplets of blood present when the needles were removed. Acupuncture is usually a bloodless procedure, especially in points around the knee. The points specifically around the ulcer were the only points that showed blood draw. I was happy to see that the body recognized that this area of the body was starved of normal blood flow due to scarring and that was why he was unable to heal after a year and a half. Sean's ulcer opened up once in the first week of treatment when he fell and skinned his knee. I managed to close that once again and it hasn't opened since. I treated Sean twice a week for a month and closed a wound that ignored medicine for 16 months. Sean's wound has remained closed and healed for 3 months without incident.
I chose to share Sean and Judith's stories for several reasons. For starters, they are your neighbors. These are real people rather than someone we hear about from town's far away. Secondly, we often don't consider how are lives are affected in the aftermath of disease remission. Finally, I shared their stories because they are the epitome of hope. We often feel lost when health is compromised. We feel abandoned when medicine seems to have failed us. Sean and Judith didn't give up hope at a time they had no reason to believe anything would ever change. They found relief where they last expected it and I hope that inspires others regardless of their conditions not give up hope without exhausting every option traditional or otherwise.
Click Here To Read Part 1 of "Picking Up The Pieces: Local Triumphs Thrive In The Aftermath of Cancer"