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Serving the Ones We Love: Through Cancer + Beyond

It was February 2020 when I signed a 12-month office lease for my new acupuncture practice. After years of study and several major life-changing events, I was elated to be finally doing work that mattered, work that I loved – helping people heal.


Six weeks later, I canceled my first appointments due to COVID-19. I didn’t know that it would be years before I would get to practice publicly again, only that erring on the side of safety as a healthcare practitioner seemed the right thing to do. The following week, the school district called an early spring break for the kids, and they didn’t return in person for the rest of the year. Anticipating what was to come, I negotiated my way out of the lease, and became a stay-at-home-mom.


It was May when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 soft tissue sarcoma, and with the help of resourceful friends we were able to fly her and my dad to Colorado to receive treatment at UC Health’s Sarcoma Clinic. The second home they had purchased in the red rock mountains south of Denver became their primary residence, something my mom had dreamed of doing for years, albeit under far different circumstances.


With my sister and I nearby, she was able to get the help she needed: rides to and from the hospital for appointments, chemo treatments, blood draws, radiation, and surgeries. She was committed to the Western route and her oncologist became the voice of God. Unquestioned, unchallenged. Her form of cancer was rare and aggressive, but she was strong-willed and determined to fight. Determined to win.


After her first chemotherapy infusion left her feeling weak, nauseous, and unable to eat, she agreed to receive acupuncture treatments (but only with the support of her oncologist, so as not to interfere with treatment). One to two days before and after every infusion, I placed needles into her ever-changing body as she laid on the couch, and we would talk. She never had symptoms from the chemo again, nor the experimental immunotherapy they switched her to when the chemo stopped working. She relied on my needles and it felt good to be of service during a time of so much uncertainty and sadness.


During one of our many sessions together, still in the thick of COVID-19, we both acknowledged what a shame it was that I couldn’t practice – due to both lack of childcare, and in order to keep her safe from the virus – but that providing acupuncture to help her cope with Western treatments and the effects of cancer was such a gift, one that offered comfort, relief, and a better quality of life even as the disease continued to spread.


“Maybe this is why I went to acupuncture school,” I told her. “I wanted to help people, but maybe the person I was most meant to help is you.”


She nodded, smiled, and spoke words to me I had never heard before: “You are an Angel.”


My mom passed away in January 2022. When I think back on those years, I’m grateful for the time that acupuncture allowed us to spend together. It was our little ritual, a time to connect, an opportunity for me to help her in a way that nobody else could. She told me stories during that time, she expressed some regrets. Without that time I may never have known how much she loved me. I would never have heard her call me Angel.


I reopened my practice in the fall of 2022, and am in love with the work that I do. And there is always some solace in knowing that wherever this medicine takes me, I’ve already done something that I came here to do. I’ve already done well through the eyes of my mother.


If you or someone you know in the Denver area can benefit from treatments to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy and improve quality of life, email us at info@bravelifeacupuncture.com or schedule a free 20-minute consult today.



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