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Management of Cancer with Chinese Medicine

This important article was submitted by Isabelle Saint-Guily, MS, LAC

Management of Cancer with Chinese Medicine

“According to the World Health Organization, more than 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year, and more than 6 million die of cancer. It is projected that in the next 20 years, these numbers will increase by 50%.” Li Peiwen, TCM Oncology Department, Beijing, June 2003.

Western Medicine treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or a combination of these. Unfortunately, both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are harsh, and produce side effects which may become a major problem to the patient. Sometimes the treatment has to be interrupted because the side-effects have become too strong and cannot be tolerated. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has proven to be an effective way to reduce these reactions to the side effects, allowing the treatment to continue. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbs are now used routinely in China, alongside Western Medicine in the treatment of cancer.

Surgery: Surgery is currently one of the main methods used when treating cancer. Before the surgery, TCM herbs are used to raise the total white blood count and increase T lymphocyte activity: it strengthens the patient’s resistance to infection and enhance immunity. Also by administering herbs which nourish the Qi (energy) and the Blood, the body’s ability to withstand surgery will be increased, and postoperative complications will be reduced.

In TCM, surgery damages Qi and Blood and affects the functioning of the organs. After surgery, by replenishing Qi and Blood and reestablishing the paths of energy, TCM can reduce the possibility of recurrence of cancer, and builds strong conditions for future chemo and radio therapies.

Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy: In TCM terms, most of the side effects in radiotherapy are Heat patterns, with Yin being severely damaged. In chemotherapy we see patterns of damaged Qi and Blood, Spleen-Stomach disharmony and depletion the Liver and Kidneys. Treatments involve clearing Heat, nourishing Yin, fortifying the Spleen and harmonizing the Stomach, nourishing the Blood and the Qi and enriching the Liver and Kidneys.

Some studies have demonstrated that Chinese Medical herbs, used with radiotherapy and chemotherapy can enhance the immune system and protect the bone marrow.

Combining TCM and Western Medicine can improve the constitution of patients and enhance their quality of life.

“Statistical data covering recent decades indicates 70% – 90 % of patients undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy combined with treatments involving TCM completed their course, compared with 50-70 % for those undergoing therapies without TCM treatment.” – Li Peiwen: Management of Cancer with Chinese Medicine.-


Success from the Heart – Isabelle Saint-Guily, Napa Valley Acupuncture

I find it inspiring to learn about how one chooses a profession that brings joy and gratitude to their clients or customers, and to themselves. Many women are coming to full bloom in their 50’s and this is wonderful to behold. In our 21st century the 50+ woman is vibrant, charismatic and has the confidence and wisdom to proceed with projects she knows are important; that bring joy to her heart as well as others. Our evolution has accelerated in just my own lifetime. Not many years ago a woman over 50 was ignored, even considered “washed up” as in the movie, “Sunset Boulevard” from 1950. Gloria Swanson plays the tragic figure of Norma Desmond, a “has-been” movie star, and it is mentioned that she is just 50 years old! “Phooey!” I say! Recently Isabelle and I got together to discuss why and how she embarked on her journey from massage therapy to Chinese Medicine. I first met Isabelle in a business networking group in 2003. I watched her business grow from a massage table in a spare room in her home, to an office with two treatment rooms in a business complex in Napa, CA. For me, Isabelle’s journey to her success in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine exemplifies a woman whose work and success are from her heart. Now, at 50 years old, Isabelle is thriving in business and her life. Her vocation brings health and joy to her patients; including me!

Some questions I asked Isabelle:

Q: How old were you when you began to build the business you have today? Was it a straight journey or did you begin with something else that twisted and turned and evolved into what your business is today?

A: In my twenties I was divorced and my kids were just two and four years old. I needed to become self-sufficient and I had very little experience. At the time there seemed to be just two industries in the Napa Valley that were feasible for me; wine and spas. I chose the spa industry because my ex-husband was in the wine industry and I didn’t want to be running into him! With massage I could work weekends and from my home. My passion for massage therapy developed right away. I found I had a natural intuition to feel what people needed. I was giving my teacher a massage and I intuitively moved to massage her head. She was impressed because we had not started instruction about the head yet, so this really acknowledged my intuition for working on what is needed. I then became trained in Chi Nei Tsang, a massage therapy that focuses on the abdominal area, a part of Chinese Medicine. This ignited my passion for Chinese Medicine and I began my education to achieve my license. In California you must be trained in both Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to obtain your license.

Q: How did you recognize what was in your heart to do?

A: Giving massage is very centering, calming and opens the door to intuition; this is what brings me joy as well as to the person receiving the massage. As it led me toward Acupuncture I was fulfilling my intuition and passion for intellectual theory and methods – science. I love the philosophy of Tao; the harmony with nature, as if I was born to be Tao.

Q: Did you ever or how often did you think you were wasting your time or that it was a foolish venture? How did you overcome your doubts?

A: With the acupuncture I never felt any doubt. But in the beginning with school, the kids and working it was very difficult to manage everything. The financial aspects were intense too. Some say you keep your eye on the big picture; but this was not how I persevered. If I looked at the huge mountain of my commitment and project I would be overwhelmed! I had to look at just each month at a time. One month closer to my accomplishment. I stayed in touch with the beauty of how organic Chinese Medicine is. It is pure nature and science.

Q: In the book, Success Built to Last, Stewart Emery emphasizes having a “disciplined practice” to keep on track; ways to measure how you’re accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. Do you have a disciplined practice or two, or more; and what is it?
A: I’m very happy with my QuickBooks program. It allows me to make monthly income comparisons with what I did last year, and even over the last five years. I can compare revenue and expenses and I can see that in June my income is always lower so that I can forecast for that. I can see that the acupuncture facials are profitable; they provide a very effective alternative to cosmetic surgery and the QuickBooks analysis shows me where I can develop more revenue. This year I am focusing on oncology, the benefits of acupuncture in treating cancer patients; helping to relieve their discomfort during cancer treatment. This is a calling for me and I’m happy to work more to increase my revenue.

I also use the Franklin Covey planner and time management system. It has been great in keeping me on track with my goals.

Q: How does your business reflect your passion?

A: My office is in a small complex on the quieter side of town. I chose not to be in the hub of the medical/professional offices because that part of town is so crowded with traffic and shopping areas. This way people, including me, are not all stressed out just getting to my office! People say that my office and treatment rooms have a very calming atmosphere. I have photos I have taken of nature and music that is soothing. All of this reflects my passion for the harmony of nature and well-being.

Q: What’s so great about being 50+ years old?

A: Being 50 doesn’t seem any different to me…except my hair! (now an adorable short gray hairstyle). Becoming 50 you gain respect and acknowledgment for who you are and what you are doing. I believe that age doesn’t matter. You know, the Native Americans never paid attention to age, they didn’t know how old they were; but they look to the elders for wisdom.

Q: What does success mean to you?

A: Just being happy and fulfilled; wanting to go to work!

Who Knew?! Making a great connection…

I’m in training for the Susan G. Komen 3Day Breast Cancer walk. My team, The Tickled Pinks, will be walking in the San Francisco Bay Area walk, September 5,6 and 7. Well, this is indeed a commitment. And the walking is arduous. No doubt about it. We’re training at about 12-14 miles now. That’s about 4 hours of walking. I’ve been a bit of a whiner too! My Sundays are kaput! Walking at 7:30am on a Sunday! Phooey! But, in my heart, I knew there are good reasons for this and some hidden benefits…I just knew it…Today, I happened to look at a photo I took in Florence, Italy.

It was a photo of the plaza around the Uffizi museum and gallery. My hubby and I traveled there just last October, 2007. The walking!! All over Florence, Rome and Venice. My feet felt like pounded beef! In fact, I had to trick my husband into walking to this plaza in the photo. “Oh, there’s something I want to see just over here”; “just around this corner”; “oh, just a little farther down this street”; “um, just over there”…really! I kept him in suspense until we were there because he had dug in his heels and said, “I can’t walk anymore!!”

When I reminisced over this photo a connection sparked! WALKING! Oh my! After all this walking we’ve been doing, to get to the 3Day event in San Francisco, I could walk ALL OVER ITALY!! I could frickin’ walk from France to Italy! Bigga deala!

So, think of it! How great this walk is for raising money for breast cancer, and how it effects our lives in ways we never expected. I’ll get back to Europe, or any other magnificent destination, and I’ll be able to get myself around in the most intimate way without feeling like my legs are lead. This is like a gift! New feet, new legs! Who knew?!

And here I present you the opportunity to be a part of this widespread joy and gratitude. Make a donation to the Susan G. Komen 3Day Breast Cancer Walk here.


Success from the Heart

There’s a majestic redwood tree at the end of my backyard. In the morning, when I sit on our deck steps, way across from it and look up to see the top of the tree, I swear there’s actually a physical connection. I lift my head to focus in on the top branches and when I take in the forest green against the sky blue my body takes in a deep breath. It seems to be a natural reaction: inhale…exhale..ahh.

This is why I work from home. I haven’t achieved financial success yet, but I’m living physical and emotional success and I don’t want to give that up. Everyday is different. This morning, around 6:00am, when I opened my eyes my mind said clearly, “So, what will today bring?”

I don’t get bored. No, I left boredom on the desk of my former corporate cubicle years ago. Didn’t pack that up with my photos and favorite pens. In contrast my work is usually deep in my laptop somewhere; researching, writing, digging through the world wide web. I have to consciously pull myself away and rest my eyes on something “real”. Here at home I can walk outside and grab a cat, prune a rose or just stare at the redwood tree.

But…”show me the money!” I’m really not inclined to become a recluse and I’m not independently wealthy, so money must be made. I’m determined to make this work….this, work. I’m coming to terms with the sort of creature I am and it’s not easy for me to step up and out. I’m working on getting, visualizing, a bigger picture, a broader realm of work, home and abundance.

“Success from the heart”; that’s what I call it. I’ll be interviewing great women I know, and want to know, that are 50+ years old and have achieved the obvious, conventional terms of success in their business. But a beautiful secret to reveal is that their success comes from their hearts; not solely their bank accounts. Stay tuned for more! And tell your friends! =)

P.S. I wrote this sitting on those back steps with cats frolicking and birds chirping…isn’t that just the best?!


Coffee Surprise

Usually coffee can make me jittery; but on this calm morning at our simple “stay-cay” in Guernville, my cup turned kind of Zen on me. I like it!.Just passing along the photo. It really was like this; I did not swirl or stir or retouch the photo. Is it a sign?

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Stretching the Time of the Days

I’m stretching out these fews days that I’m calling my vacation this year. As of July 2nd, I was hurrying to get work tasks done and put away, so that by the 4th of July I was focusing on only the fun stuff. The good part was that it was completely acceptable to most everyone that we should be on vacation during this holiday weekend and beyond. We had a great 4th of July on Friday. Our town does it up very well with parade and street fair and great live music going on into the night before the fireworks after dark. This year Gator Beat performed the final concert of the evening. A great Cajun/Zydeco band from the North Bay Area; guaranteed to make you dance. It was a very satisfying 4th for me and I slept late Saturday morning and lazed through the rest of the day.

Today, I’m noticing how much I want to stretch this time of zoning out and staring at the cats and birds around the backyard. We’ve got 4 days at the beach ahead of us. Four days! It seems a King’s ransom in time this year. And a heat wave scheduled in the weather report too! I can’t help being stuck in fast forward to this vacation…I want to leave now and have it last forever.

Am I a lazy sot? A dreamer? Oh yes, a dreamer…my favorite past time. My inside world is opulent, lush and spans the universe. The place where my stretching is never restricted; unlike the sinew surrounding my bones. That’s all there is to this. A purpose to stretch the time of my time off…time away…time turning into more time. Quality of time. Party Time. The time has come. Time and time again.