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Gilchrist’s New Integrative Medicine Program Focuses on Quality of Life for Cancer Patients

By:

Lisa Schwartz

October 25, 2018
For patients living with cancer, the focus is typically on treatment and killing off the disease that is waging war inside of the body. While in the fight of their lives, a person’s emotional well-being is sometimes left unchecked with many patients struggling with the stress and emotional fatigue that accompanies the physical attack on the disease. Now, that is changing.

In October 2018, Gilchrist introduced a groundbreaking Integrative Medicine program for patients undergoing cancer therapies, focusing on a person’s full range of needs - physical, emotional, and spiritual. Leading the charge is Delia Chiaramonte, M.D., the program’s director and a member of Gilchrist’s Palliative and Advanced Care Management (ACM) team.

“It is crucial to treat the whole person and not just the disease,” stresses Dr. Chiaramonte, who is certified by the American Board of Holistic and Integrative Holistic Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine, with added certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Open to all patients receiving treatment at the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC, including Radiation Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology, Gilchrist’s new Integrative Medicine program combines the philosophies of integrative care and palliative medicine to emphasize quality of life during and after cancer treatment. Dr. Chiaramonte will also continue to work with patients on managing the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment.

Tools to Manage the Side Effects of Cancer

Integrative medicine provides Dr. Chiaramonte with the additional tools needed to effectively help patients manage the physical and emotional load of cancer treatment. As the program grows, it will promote the use of relaxation therapies, massage, acupuncture, and other modalities to offset the physical effects of cancer treatments and harness the power of the mind-body connection.

“I use both conventional palliative medicine approaches and integrative medicine methods to help patients manage symptoms and cope with the stress of their serious illness. In fact, Integrative Medicine and Palliative Medicine are so closely aligned that I see myself as practicing Integrative Palliative Care,” she adds.

The Integrative Medicine program includes wellness planning as well as symptom management, which focuses on reducing pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep problems, nausea, and stress. According to Dr. Chiaramonte, wellness planning uses evidence-supported modalities that have been shown to improve quality of life and even survival in patients with cancer.

“We create a wellness plan to use during treatment and then another one for once patients have completed treatment,” she explains.

Services offered through Gilchrist’s Integrative Medicine program include:
  • Integrative nutrition consultations
  • Evidence-supported approaches to the use of supplements in cancer treatment
  • Mind-body therapies such as meditation, guided imagery, and breathing techniques
  • Integrative treatment planning for symptoms such as sleep problems, anxiety, depression, pain, nausea, fatigue, and stress
  • Therapeutic dialogue and psychological strategies including tapping/Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), cognitive strategies, and positive psychology
  • Guided journaling
Additional therapeutic services that will be introduced to the program include yoga therapy, therapeutic art, Reiki, and mind-body modalities such as medical hypnosis. Acupuncture and massage therapy will also be offered.

“Integrative medicine offers a wide variety of approaches, from medications to meditation to relaxation strategies, helping people gain control over unpleasant symptoms and side effects. Our goal is to help patients thrive during their cancer treatments, and beyond,” says Dr. Chiaramonte.

In addition to Gilchrist’s new Integrative Medicine Services program, Dr. Chiaramonte provides advanced care management/palliative medicine consults for GBMC inpatients as part of Gilchrist’s ACM team. To refer a patient for Integrative Medicine services, physicians can call Gilchrist at GBMC at 443-849-6255. Dr. Chiaramonte sees patients in the Radiation Oncology Center at GBMC. Patients can also schedule appointments through Radiation Oncology or Medical Oncology during their treatments or call 443-849-3184.
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