Avera Medical Minute: Acupuncture for those battling cancer

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (DAKOTA NEWS NOW) - Being victorious over cancer is something Bob Anderson is grateful for every day. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2011, completed treatment including chemotherapy, and continues with checkups.

"I've been very fortunate, nothing has popped up every time. I come in for checkups which was monthly, up until last fall and I go every other month now," said Anderson.

One of the side effects, he believes came from the chemotherapy is neuropathy in his feet. "Tingling or burning sensation, especially toward the end of the day," said Anderson.

A friend said they had neuropathy, and acupuncture helped. "I thought, why not, I'm right here. So I talked to her and we started doing it," said Anderson.

Bob talked to Dr. Sally Williams, who has helped others on their cancer journey, using acupuncture. "Whether it's in the beginning with their diagnosis, or whether it's somewhere in the middle when they're doing chemotherapy, radiation or taking medications or at the end when they're working on retaining remission or preventing reoccurrence," said Dr. Williams.

And how do those tiny needles feel going in? "You really don't feel anything except the initial going in and sometimes you don't even feel that," said Anderson.

He finds the sessions relaxing while there are 2 needles in his neck, 1 on the top of his head, on his hands and on his legs and feet. "Yeah, they take about a half-hour, 45 minutes. Usually, I fall asleep, so that's a good feeling. Time just flies then," said Anderson.

Dr. Willaims says acupuncture can be helpful for other conditions for those in cancer treatment: neuropathy, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression.

Bob says he's feeling better and credits acupuncture treatments. Dr. Willaims isn't surprised.

"I've seen it work, I've seen it make the difference in people being able to tolerate their chemotherapy a lot better, and helping them to be able to complete their chemotherapy rather than stop early," said Dr. Williams.