Happy Spring! As I am writing to you after my spring break, I feel refreshed and blessed. It has been a tough year for all of us, but things are finally looking more promising, beginning with the nice spring weather in eastern U.S. I would like to pause for a moment and reflect upon the past year.
On March 1, 2020, NYC declared its first case of COVID-19. We then saw cases go up exponentially every day. Over the next few weeks, schools, restaurants, elective portions of the hospitals and the whole city gradually closed down. People started to move out of the city, which looked like a ghost town. Fear dominated our lives, and we felt depressed, angry, and isolated. One by one, our hospital’s inpatient services were transformed into COVID-19 services, and needed volunteers. I was one of the first attending oncologists who volunteered as a COVID-19 service attending physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. This was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. My experience was like this one described by author Gary Zukav: “Once you move from being unconsciously controlled by fearful emotions to consciously choosing to act on love-based emotions, you are in a position to change your life, your future and your world.”
Slowly, NYC sidewalks have filled with people, traffic jams have reappeared, and our hospital is busy taking care of cancer patients again. Restaurants are reopening, many have received a vaccine, and people are planning to travel again. COVID-19 is not gone yet, and we continue wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing, but we are hopeful.
Considering this, we have decided to proceed with SIO 2021 annual conference in a hybrid format. The Conference Planning Committee and our tireless staff have been working to pull together all the details of our upcoming conference this September, which will be held both in-person at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, and virtually. The deadline for submission of conference workshops and abstracts has been extended to May 10, 2021, and early registration will open soon. The conference hashtag is #integrativeonc21.
SIO is proud to announce our support of the May 15 th Integrative Oncology UK 21 conference organized in association with the British Society for Integrative Oncology (BSIO). The conference co-chair is Catherine Zollman, GP, SIO’s Regional Ambassador to the UK. Please scroll down to view the program, which includes SIO Treasurer and next President-Elect, Santosh Rao, MD, as one of the presenters. I encourage you to register for this conference, as recordings will be available to view online until October.
The SIO Yoga SIG, after discussing the need for expert consensus on safe delivery of yoga therapy interventions in the context of cancer, is developing a consensus statement on yoga therapy parameters in cancer care and embarking on a long-term project to develop best practices in yoga and cancer. The recent Yoga SIG Town Hall discussion on this subject is
available on YouTube here.
On March 10th, the Patient Advocate Committee hosted the second SIO Quarterly Patient Advocate Call, which featured two international speakers, SIO Regional Ambassador to Europe and the Middle East, Eran Ben-Arye, MD, and SIO National Ambassador to the UK, Catherine Zollman, GP. After hearing how patients with cancer access integrative oncology care in Israel and the UK, our 19 attendees enthusiastically engaged with the speakers in a Q&A that continued via email. This videoconference call is available to view on the SIO YouTube channel here.
Next month, SIO will hold a Mini Board Retreat. After last October’s Board Retreat, we decided to create this shorter, mid-year retreat as a way to reconnect and hold ourselves accountable for the goals we set for 2021. From what I’ve seen so far, our committees, task forces and SIGs have been doing some great work. It will be a good time to steer our society into the stretch of summer and collaborate with each other before our hybrid conference in September.
Ting Bao, MD, DABMA, MS
President, Society for Integrative Oncology
Director, Integrative Breast Oncology
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Integrative Oncology Talk videocast: April 5-11 is Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Awareness Week. Watch the most recent videocast interview with Matt Ode and Amelia Coffaro, both young adult cancer survivors who describe their experiences and the importance of social support, self-care, and prioritizing mental health.
The Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada is hosting its 17 th Natural
Health Product Research Conference. The conference website is now open
for registration and abstract submission. Abstracts are invited in all areas of research on natural health products, dietary supplements, nutraceuticals, traditional medicines and cannabis. Submitted abstracts are peer reviewed and published in the Journal of Natural Health Products Research (www.jnhpresearch.com). Abstract submission deadline is April 30, 2021.
The last two decades have seen a significant increase in dietary supplement use by cancer patients. Despite the proliferation of Web sites that contain information about dietary supplements, finding a reliable source can be overwhelming. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center developed and maintains a free Web site “About Herbs” (www.mskcc.org/aboutherbs) that provides objective and unbiased information about herbs, vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, and unproven anticancer treatments. Each of the 286 and growing number of entries has healthcare professional and patient versions that are regularly updated with the latest research findings. The free About Herbs App, compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices, can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/about-herbs/id554267162?mt=8.
A perennial herb, turmeric has a 5,000-year-long history of medicinal and culinary use in India and China. It has been shown to exert a wide spectrum of biological effects. Curcumin, the bioactive compound on which current research is focused, has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and chemo-preventive properties.
Preliminary data suggest that curcumin decreases cancer-related cachexia, delays the onset of radiation-induced oral mucositis, and is safe when taken with docetaxel and gemcitabine. Several clinical trials are underway to fully determine the therapeutic value of curcumin in cancer patients … link to monograph.
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