Integrative medicine at Riverside brings together evidence-based complementary therapies with leading-edge cancer treatment. Simply put, integrative medicine focuses on the whole person - body, mind and spirit - not just the disease. This combined approach to care has been shown to enhance quality of life for a wide range of people, particularly in the area of managing the side effects of cancer and its treatment. Integrative care has become a growing component of the Cancer Care program that is offered at no cost.
The Integrative medicine team is made up of certified oncology nurses, also known as patient navigators, certified massage therapists, a certified lymphedema therapist, a registered yoga instructor, registered dietitians, a music therapy coordinator, palliative care coordinators and pet therapy.
The process begins when new patients are introduced to our patient navigator. This nurse assesses patient needs based on their diagnosis and treatment plan. The results of the assessment and patient interview will tell us which other team members should be included in the customized care plan.
Patients with compromised appetites or poor nutritional status are referred to this service, which is not offered through many cancer programs around the country. Our dietitians hold national certification in oncology, providing education and consultation regarding food, diet, supplementation and chemotherapy.
Each month, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, our dietitians present Nutrition and Physical Activity During and After Cancer Treatment to our patients and the community.
Our massage therapists provide private full-body massage appointments as well as foot massage during chemotherapy treatments. Massage therapists are included in the treatment planning for each of our patients. There are many studies supporting the benefits of massage for individuals with cancer including stress and anxiety reduction, decrease in pain, and a decrease in possible side effects from medical treatments, such as nausea, fatigue, constipation, and peripheral neuropathy.
A wealth of scientific research confirms music's role in helping people relax by reducing the perception of discomfort and affecting breathing rate and blood pressure in a positive way. Along with helping to reduce anxiety and depression, music also helps distract from the side effects of treatment.
Pet therapy at Riverside is provided by our generous and enthusiastic community of volunteers who bring their certified therapy dogs - specially trained to be gentle and comforting around people - to interact with patients. There are currently 10 different dogs that visit our facilities on a weekly basis.
Mindful Yoga is a weekly program designed to meet the specialized needs of patients wherever they are in their process of healing. The atmosphere in the yoga class promotes relaxation and rejuvenation. It includes breathing techniques for stress reduction and guided imagery, along with gentle yoga poses that increase flexibility and stamina.