Sandra Wing knows firsthand the benefits healing therapies have on cancer patients. In just a few short weeks, she'll be celebrating three years being cancer-free.
Certainly not a substitute for traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, therapies such as acupuncture, massage and deep-breathing techniques are what helped the longtime Pleasanton resident get through the often grueling side effects the traditional treatments caused.
It was Nov. 16, 2006 that Wing underwent surgery to treat uterine cancer, what she calls her own blessing in disguise. During the procedure, doctors found she also had Stage 1 ovarian cancer, often called the silent killer because it shows no symptoms until it's too late.
"I consider myself very fortunate because they were both caught in the very early stage," she said. "It was the uterine cancer that was very fortunate to have because that's the one that has symptoms."
Battling both cancers through rounds of chemo, Wing endured the usual and debilitating side effects of nausea, body aches and pains, numbing of the fingers and toes and the emotional toll a cancer diagnosis brings. And while traditional treatment worked, it was also through healing therapies that she made a complete recovery. Acupuncture helped the numbing, clinically called neuropathy, while acupressure, massage and deep-breathing meditation helped in other ways.
But Wing considers herself fortunate. Why? Because most people can't afford these types of secondary therapies.
"It wasn't covered by insurance, and it can be quite expensive just on your co-pays and all the other expenses that aren't covered treating the cancer," she said.
In August 2008, Wing founded the Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies Foundation to help cancer survivors treat these side effects through the various therapies.
"We raise money to give away to people with cancer in the Tri-Valley area and we're focused on five cities--Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville," Wing said.
Wing is also quick to add that the foundation is not meant to be an alternative to traditional cancer treatment, but hopes to help patients in conjunction with their chemo or radiation.
After spending the first part of the year raising money, the foundation gave grants to six people for $1,000 to help pay for these treatments. Unfortunately, the sixth person died before he could use the grant money. The grants may not seem like much, but many of these healing therapies are as little as $50 per treatment, so that can get someone up to 20 sessions, Wing said.
The foundation will hold a fundraiser Oct. 17, where those battling cancer can experience the therapies the organization provides financial aid for. The day will begin with a guided meditation, followed by a labyrinth walk, chair massage, acupressure sessions and an introduction to the healing benefits of acupuncture, closing with a sound immersion meditation.
The Healing Oasis fundraiser will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 5858 Stoneridge Mall Road. The cost for the day, including lunch, is $80. Proceeds support the foundation and its programs. Participants are asked to wear comfortable clothing and bring a blanket or bolster to sit on during meditations. Pre-registration is required. Participants can register online at www.healingtherapiesfoundation.org or call 866-862-7270.
The foundation has two open seats on its board, is seeking volunteers and donations. Those who wish to apply for a grant must be undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation and have their doctor's approval. Visit the website listed above for more information.