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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Holistic Treatments Provide Healing Effects for Cancer Patients

Sep 26, 2012 09:16PM ● By Jude Forsyth


Acupuncture treatments and medical massage specifically designed for oncology patients provide healing effects that can shorten the patient’s healing time and improve their quality of life. Acupuncture Physician Michael Kovach, who practices in Pensacola, sees progress in the way medical doctors view the treatment of cancer. “While it is true that complementary medicine is becoming a respected part of our health care system in the U.S., many of the finest medical and cancer treatment centers now actually have established departments of acupuncture and integrative medicine within their own facilities,” says Kovach.

Kovach recently attended a specialized oncology program with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that provided acupuncturists with a basic understanding of integrative oncology. It included a discussion of the pathophysiology of cancer, mainstream treatment and the management of side effects associated with treatments for breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer, as well as lymphoma, leukemia and other cancer diagnoses.

“It was obvious that these experts were used to working closely together in the care of their patients. The research being done at Sloan-Kettering appears to be looking at anything natural or lifestyle related that may prevent or treat cancer, in addition to standard medical care. This is truly the future of medicine,” says Kovach.

Part of the Sloan-Kettering program was to teach acupuncture techniques for the optimal treatment of cancer patients and to help doctors understand the overall role of acupuncture in cancer patient management. While Kovach studies these optimum treatments, he has also been practicing many of the techniques with his own patients. Kovach explains, “My personal experience with helping cancer patients through their medical care is that acupuncture can greatly reduce the side effects of needed treatment and improves the chances of a successful outcome. I have also found acupuncture to reduce significantly the stress levels in many of the people I have seen with cancer and can help improve appetite and reduce fatigue. Finally, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting regular checkups with the primary care doctor and reporting any unusual symptoms.”

While appropriate treatment is an important aspect for recovery, Kovach wants to stress that the optimal treatment plan begins with early detection. “The sooner a cancer is detected, the higher the rate of remission. Many cancers have a 90 percent or better cure rate if detected very early and treated medically. Many times, it may be surgically removed with no chemotherapy or radiation treatments needed. If one does receive a cancer diagnosis, many studies now show an enhanced outcome when complementary medicine is used with good medical care,” states Kovach.

Oncology massage is another holistic treatment that can promote healing for the cancer patient. Ann Rector, owner of The Reach Institute, in Santa Rosa Beach, specializes in several types of medical massage. Rector, a licensed medical massage practitioner with a degree in kinesiology, explains why it is important for cancer patients to receive regular massages. “This comfort-oriented massage is tailored for each individual by including various adjustments, such as type of pressure, length of session, positioning and avoidance of affected areas in the body,” says Rector. “A properly trained oncology massage therapist can provide this type of massage at any stage on a cancer journey.”

Rector also offers manual lymphatic drainage for patients experiencing lymphedema following cancer surgery or treatment. She notes that it is important to take into account the side effects of medications and treatments to be sure that a safe and beneficial massage can be given. Says Reach, “Comfort, stress reduction and relaxation are also some of the goals of this gentle, caring massage.”

Michael Kovach’s practice is located at 2929 Langley Ave., Ste. 101, in Pensacola. For more information, call 850-474-0883 or visit

Ann Rector is the owner of The Reach Institute, in Santa Rosa Beach, and a licensed massage therapist, medical massage practitioner and certified oncology, pregnancy, labor support and post-partum massage specialist. Contact her at 850-622-2273 or visit

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