Chris P - Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

Five ways I manage cancer-related pain

In 2008, Chris P. was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. After her diagnosis, she took the traditional pain management route. Although it took the edge off the intense pain, Chris didn’t want to miss out on life because of fatigue. Throughout treatment, she was introduced to some integrative strategies to manage her pain. Although she’s finished with chemotherapy and radiation, Chris still experiences bouts of chronic pancreatitis. She shares the five tools she still uses to manage her pain. 

  1. Nerve blockers.This was the best way for me to deal with chronic and severe pancreatitis attacks. No narcotics. Just relief. Priceless. I would highly recommend it if available. Consult with your oncologist to see whether this option is right for you. 
  2. Acupuncture. I love acupuncture. It helped me tremendously. I scheduled sessions the day before chemotherapy appointments to help curb the side effects and pain. I also received it on my last day of chemotherapy to help reduce post-treatment side effects, which included extreme fatigue and platelet and red blood cell count issues.
  3. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF). I received PEMF therapy weekly to help with the stabbing pain that can come with a bout of pancreatitis. My pancreatitis can come on fast and take me down. On average, I experience six to eight bouts of “gut pain” on any given day. PEMF helps calm the pain to a more tolerable level and helps to invigorate me, too.
  4. RSO oil. Rick Simpson oil, a full-extract cannabis oil meant to be taken orally or applied topically, helps me with pain. Although some doctors won’t talk about cannabis oil, I hear patients talk about it more openly. I’ve used it and continue to use it for my gut pain (which feels like I’m being stabbed from the inside out). However, I did have to find the right dosage for me. This isn’t a perfect science, but I can say it helps me get out and walk, garden and be active. Combined with my other pain-relieving strategies, these oils give me a much better daily experience and quality of life.
  5. Meditation. I am a “prove it to me” kind of gal. PTSD and anxiety were daily, if not every-minute-of-the-day, reminders of where I didn’t want to be. I wanted the mindset back that helped me beat stage 4 pancreatic cancer and the daily pain that came and comes with that diagnosis for me. The type of meditation I use has helped me get back to that frame of mind.