Greenville patient says acupuncture helped with the symptoms of cancer treatment

Acupuncture may alleviate pain & anxiety for cancer patients
Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 12:30 AM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Feb. 4th is World Cancer Day and treatment for cancer can take a big toll on patients both physically and emotionally. But there are some ways patients can get relief.

A recent study found that acupuncture may help alleviate pain and anxiety for cancer patients. This most recent study focused on gynecological oncology surgery, but other studies have shown it can help breast cancer patients with pain, sleep and anxiety. A Greenville cancer patient says acupuncture was not something she ever expected to try, but it helped in more ways than one.

Doctor Elizabeth Williams is a licensed acupuncturist at Dragonfly Acupuncture in Greenville. She has been working with cancer patient Nicole Machanic for over a year.

“I was nervous at first,” Nicole Machanic said. “It is funny you mention fear of needles, I had a huge fear of needles.”

But she found this new therapy after a major challenge in her life. In June 2021 Machanic was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 29 years old.

“I had a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety and a lot of tears,” Mechanic said.

She immediately started chemotherapy treatment and said the side effects were hard to endure. Her doctor recommended a few alternative therapies to help with the symptoms. One was acupuncture.

“I was just able to calm down, go to bed at night and lessen some of the tension that I felt,” Mechanic said.

She says it helped with her nausea, neuropathy or tickling in her hands and feet, joint pain, sleep and stress. Dr. Williams says acupuncture activates the nervous system.

“It’s like you have a traffic jam in your nervous system and so I start to redirect traffic so you have a nice flow of blood, nerve impulses and all of that,” Dr. Williams said.

She says the goal is to create a chemical balance in hormones, neurotransmitters and immune mediators.

“For example, if you have a lot of pain, acupuncture can help release endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain relievers,” Williams said. “It works really well for immunity as well.”

Machanic underwent a double mastectomy and says the emotional toll from cancer is far beyond what she expected. It’s why she was happy to find a therapy that gave relief.

“I couldn’t even put it into words how much it helped,” Mechanic said. “Chemo makes you feel so sick and unlike yourself. So anything that can give you tangible relief is huge.”

Machanic says at her last oncology appointment no cancer was detected. She says this was a huge milestone for her, but it will still take her a while to get back to normal.