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Volume 16, Issue 10 - March 6 - 12, 2008

Health Is Priceless

photo courtesy of United Breast Cancer Foundation

Mary Nagle studies a thermography image at Meadow Hill Wellness Center.

Breast cancer patients of all incomes get the healing touch

by Carrie Madren, Bay Weekly staff writer

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It strikes both rich and poor. Everybody suffers equally, but money makes fighting the battle easier.

For beating cancer takes its toll financially as well as physically and emotionally. After the bills have been paid — even with insurance, there are always shortfalls — feeling better is a luxury out of reach on a limited income. To even the playing field, Meadow Hill Wellness Center is giving away almost $5,000.

The West Annapolis holistic healing practice is offering grants for massages, naturopathy, hypnotherapy and more, so people who can’t afford the $80-an-hour shiatsu or $200 initial hypnotherapy session can reap the benefits.

“We have a lot women who are in remission or recovering; women who come in can afford it,” says Meadow Hill’s Kaeti Bradley. “It would be wonderful if women who couldn’t afford it could experience the healing effects.”

Bridging the income gap is the non-profit United Breast Cancer Foundation, which funds holistic healthcare services for people suffering and in remission from breast cancer. Eligibility is based on income: under $55,000 for a family of four, or under $29,500 for a single-person household.

Grants fund acupuncture, hypnotherapy, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, massage and shiatsu.

Benefits from these therapies and treatments range from physical to psychological. Treatments such as massage and shiatsu relax and reduce stress — including tensions caused by dealing with a harsh illness like breast cancer. “Everyone stresses a lot, so we can’t bounce back from physical issues” as readily as if we were relaxed, Bradley says.

On the other end of the health spectrum, these alternative treatments work to heal the psychological roots of pain and discomfort.

“There are a lot of physical issues related to the emotional or traumatic,” says Bradley. For instance, “hypnotherapy is amazing for releasing such subconscious issues.”

The benefits of Meadow Hill’s holistic menu of treatments attracted the Foundation. A chance meeting over music got the money flowing.

United Breast Cancer Foundation’s Beth Heim crossed paths with Bradley at Meadow Hill’s information booth at last summer’s Eastport-A-Rockin’ festival.

Meadow Hill’s thermographies caught Heim’s attention, as this alternative breast cancer detection method isn’t common in Chesapeake Country.

This “sensitive thermal photography helps women know if they have inflammation that could turn into breast cancer,” Bradley explains.

The noninvasive technology is among the practices United Breast Cancer Foundation wants to promote, says Heim. Women who qualify for Meadow Hill’s grants also qualify for individual thermography funding directly from the Foundation.

“The early detection rate is amazing,” she says, because thermography can find abnormal tissues some five years earlier than mammography.

Combined with the other holistic offerings, thermography convinced Heim and the Foundation that a grant to Meadow Hill made sense.

“In alternative health care, it’s typically out-of-pocket,” Heim says. These grants “open up an avenue for people who would never have been able to get these services.”

Meadow Hill is one of about 40 recipients of United Breast Cancer Foundation funding since the beginning of 2007.

Heim knows that the grants are helping.

“People respond with immense relief,” she says. “I’ll hear from these women, men and children that they can move on because they’re not burdened with this financial stress.”

Learn more from Kaeti Bradley at Meadow Hill Wellness Center: 443-433-5535.

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