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Ask an Oncology Expert with Dr. Delia Chiaramonte

February 24, 2022
Dr. Delia Chiaramonte is the Medical Director of Integrative and Palliative Medicine at GBMC HealthCare System. Integrative medicine services include nutrition consultations, evidence-supported approaches to the use of supplements in cancer treatment, and mind-body therapies such as meditation, guided imagery and breathing techniques. Patients may also receive support to help cope with symptoms such as sleep problems, anxiety, depression, pain, nausea, fatigue and stress.

For patients of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC, Dr. Chiaramonte provides an innovative combination of her expertise. Dr. Chiaramonte and her team partner with oncologists as they go through their treatment. During a Feb. 23 conversation, she shared many important tips for thriving during cancer treatment; how to cope with symptoms, pain, mental health; and more.

Palliative medicine does not mean end of life care, but rather it is symptom-focused care for serious illness. Dr. Chiaramonte and her team combine the benefits of palliative medicine with integrative medicine therapies—such as acupuncture, massage, meditation—to treat the whole person. They focus on treating the symptoms that might normally make it challenging for patients to live their daily lives.

The Palliative and Integrative Medicine team works closely with oncologists to try alternatives to managing difficult symptoms patients may face, such as nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite. However, before prescribing strong medication like opioids, they do like to start with alternatives to managing pain. If alternative methods are not making progress in managing pain, the team will closely monitor patients and may provide small doses of pain medication.

Dr. Chiaramonte offered many suggestions for how everyone, not just people undergoing cancer treatment, can improve their overall health. She suggested certain diet changes like including anti-inflammatory foods (berries) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli) into your diet, moving your body in a way you enjoy such as dancing, and meditation to calm the mind.

Some of the services provided by Dr. Chiaramonte and her team are covered by insurance. The program includes a mind/body specialist, who is available for both patients and family members. Services provided by the mind/body specialist are offered free of charge, and therefore rely entirely on donations to be able to continue.

You can help support treating the whole patient during treatment by donating to the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC.
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