A three-time cancer survivor shares how instrumental integrative medicine classes were in her recovery.
By the time she was 45, Traci Asher had been diagnosed with cancer three times. Throughout her treatment journey, she found strength, peace and friendship by attending integrative medicine classes at the Providence Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center (DFCC), a place that treats the whole person—body, mind and spirit.
Asher was 47 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Her experience was so profound that when she was not at work as a costumer on TV comedies, she partnered with her father, Warren Perlstein, on a book called 1 Cancer Patient.
We had the honor of sitting down and talking with Asher about her experience.
First of all, how are you doing now?
I am doing very well now! I’ve been in remission for about one year. I’m taking the medication Lynparza, which has been a miracle drug as far as I’m concerned. The anxiety is real, so I’ll be vigilant about my health care forever.
What classes did you take at the Disney Family Cancer Center?
Over the years, I’ve attended each of the nutrition classes produced by registered dietitian Rémy Peters, who discusses healthy, mindful eating. I have taken yoga and sound healing classes. I had acupuncture and took part in many of the weekend retreats and holiday potlucks.
Please describe some of the classes.
Sound healing classes with Andréa are my favorite. She uses Himalayan singing bowls to create sounds that promote meditation and healing. It’s trippy, because you’re lying on the floor and listening to the music, which can sometimes make you see colors. Some people even fall asleep, but according to Andréa, the sounds help with the physical healing process. I like it better than a guided meditation, because it’s hard for me to meditate while listening to a person talking about meditating.
And what about the retreats?
The retreats took place on Saturday afternoons at the DFCC, usually outside on the veranda by the waterfall. Basically, the day started with yoga, then there was a recipe demonstration, then eating, dancing with percussion instruments and ending with a meditation. It’s great connecting with other Thrivors (DFCC patients) for advice and support.
And finally, what is the atmosphere like at the DFCC?
If I was ever too early for a class or treatment, I would sit alone in the meditation room or outside by the waterfall. It’s beautiful, usually quiet, and it made me feel like I was in control of my day. If I sat in the Zen Garden before a radiation or chemo treatment, I felt like I had done something important to relax and would not go into the treatment with stress or anxiety.
I don’t think I could’ve gotten through my seven-year cancer journey without the staff and programs at DFCC. Everybody I’ve met has been an empathetic listener and problem solver. I learned so much at the beginning of my journey that by diagnosis three I felt very well educated on how to live with metastatic breast cancer. I feel like the staff at DFCC are my friends who will always be there for me if I need them, even during remission. They understand that even when “it’s over,” it’s not over.
To learn more about integrative medicine programs, call 818-748-4900.