"Ragin Cajun" is the San Francisco East Bay's Mardi Gras event on Friday, Feb. 11, to benefit Wing's foundation. With a "feel-good" music, dancing and buffet dinner party, contributors can help the foundation's team of volunteers make the scores of patients feel better, too, as they receive therapy during cancer treatments.
The foundation provides cancer patients with financial assistance for complementary healing services during the course of their chemo or radiation therapy. Complementary and integrative healing therapies include: acupuncture, acupressure, therapeutic massage, deep breathing meditation and visualization.
"These healing therapies can provide relief for neuropathy, anxiety, stress, aches, fatigue, nausea and pain," said Sandra J. Wing, a Pleasanton resident and dual cancer survivor who founded and still leads the foundation.
From her cancer diagnosis through surgery and during chemo treatment, Wing said she found great benefit, calmness and pain relief by accessing complementary healing therapies such as those now offered by her foundation. Although not covered by insurance, she was able to have the healing treatments of acupressure massage and guided meditation at UCSF's Osher Center in San Francisco. Through the foundation she later established, she is making those services available to Tri-Valley cancer residents.
"At the age of 47, I was diagnosed with two cancers: uterine and ovarian," Wing recalled. "With great fortune, the uterine cancer is what brought attention to the ovarian cancer, and both were found at the early stage of 1b and 1a, respectively."
Her treatment period was accompanied with many of the difficulties, pain, stresses and worries which most, if not all, cancer patients endure.
What surprised Wing the most was how her body reacted to each chemo session.
"I was surprised at how I felt defeated and immobile, unable to perform the simplest of tasks," she said. "I was surprised at how my body felt battered and beaten and achy throughout. I was surprised at how the tips of my fingers and toes were impacted by neuropathy."
Even at her weakest points, however, Wing found that she responded to different forms of healing therapies that she was able to obtain. These included healing touches such as acupressure and massage, acupuncture, meditation and deep breathing focus exercises.
"These healing therapies were of immense help to me not only in calming me and in alleviating nervousness and anxiety, but also in my overall well being."
The results of the therapies were impressive. Immediately after surgery, Wing said, she did not need pain medication for several hours after focusing on breathing and visualization techniques. As a result of acupuncture sessions to reduce the neuropathy, she was able to complete the full chemo treatment and regain her health.
"Today, at the age of 51, I know that I am fortunate to be alive," she said. "I believe that I went through these cancers and treatments so that I would be able to help others seeking healing and complementary treatments, which is why the foundation has been established."
The foundation currently has centers in Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore and seven other locations in the East Bay and on the Peninsula.
In addition to music, dinner and dancing (and, yes, beads), the Mardi Gras-style Ragin Cajun also will feature a live auction as part of the fundraising event. Jessica Aguirre, the evening anchor for NBC Bay Area News, will emcee the Ragin Cajun party.
The event will be held at the Palm Event Center, 1184 Vineyard Ave., in Pleasanton from 6:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Tickets are $75 for person. For more information, contact the Sandra J. Wing Foundation on its website at www.healingtherapiesfoundation.org/ragin-cajun-2011 or call (866) 862-7270.