When one thinks of the medical oncology unit at a major hospital, the inhalation of uplifting aromas, a feeling of sanctuary, opportunities for centering and relaxation, and guidance through restorative yoga poses are usually not what first comes to mind.
It could be a reality if you were at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, where integrative therapists are assisting doctors and nurses in providing comfort and care to cancer patients.
World-famous fashion designer Donna Karan, in conjunction with her Urban Zen Foundation, is developing this unique program which provides support to cancer patients and their families, as well as the hospital staff itself. Urban Zen trains the "integrative therapists," who facilitate the support in the form of yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy to comfort those in the inpatient oncology unit at Beth Israel. The integrative therapists also act as patient navigators, hand holding the patients and their families throughout the often rocky and scary road from diagnosis through treatment.
The program is the result of inspiration from Donna Karan, who lost her beloved husband Stephan Weiss, an artist and her business partner, to lung cancer in June 2001. Karan shares that while she is grateful for the wonderful doctors who treated her husband, something she noticed was a need to provide care and comfort for patients as well as treating the disease. This new program grew from the complementary modalities she added to Weiss's care from her knowledge of Eastern approaches.
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Sara's note: This sounds like a great program. The idea that Eastern and Western therapy should be independent of eachother feels antiquated to me. Integrating therapies is holistic and sensible.