Acupuncture for cancer patients: One says she credits treatments with helping her to feel better

WEST ALLIS (WITI) -- When a doctor first recommended it, Beth Dowhen of West Allis had her doubt. Could acupuncture really help with her cancer symptoms?

You can often find Dowhen in her garden. Her daffodils are always the first to bloom.


Beth Dowhen

"I had one Easter Sunday. All the rest came two weeks later. It was like one just couldn't wait!" Dowhen said.

Dowhen understands impatience. She was cooped up inside by more than a long winter.

"Last year I didn't do anything in the yard. I feel so blessed to be normal again," Dowhen said.

Beth Dowhen

Dowhen has been cancer free for more than six months. She's back to feeling like she did three years ago -- before doctors found cancer at the base of her tongue.

"They decided to do chemo and radiation," Dowhen said.

To reign in the symptoms caused by her treatment, she found herself laying on a table for something she'd never considered.

"I thought, you know, acupuncture? Is it going to be some old hippie somewhere doing it?" Dowhen said.

The Pavlic Center on the Wheaton Franciscan Elmbrook Memorial campus feels more like a spa than a clinic. During procedures, Acupuncturist Christine Warrix carefully navigated needles the size of a hair onto Dowhen's arms, legs and feet.

Pavlic Center Wheaton Franciscan Elmbrook Memorial campus

The one on Dowhen's chin was meant to help with the dry mouth caused by radiation.

"About five minutes after that first treatment, I felt saliva come into my mouth and that just amazed me," Dowhen said.

Beth Dowhen

Other needles in other spots were meant to help with stress and relaxation.

"If they're nauseous or have a lack of appetite, acupuncture can help with that," Warrix said.

Dowhen credits the needles with stopping a sore throat she'd had for months on end.

Pavlic Center supervisor Kara Wilde says some cancer patients need a little convincing in order to undergo the acupuncture treatments.

"Baby steps is sometimes where you have to begin with some people. It is something that is able to alleviate some pain. It can sometimes alleviate some of the discomforts they have. Just in well-being, as far as not being able to sleep at night, or being achy first thing in the morning," Wilde said.

Dowhen has gone from hesitant to an acupuncture advocate.

"I really do credit acupuncture with helping me feel better," Dowhen said.

And now that spring is finally here, Dowhen is back to doing the things she loves -- like working with her neglected garden that turned out to be just a resilient as she is.

Acupuncture is generally not covered by insurance. Dowhen gets her treatment thanks to the Elmbrook Memorial Foundation and its donors. She says she always walks out the door feeling better than when she walked in.