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M. D. Anderson's Place ... of wellness Celebrates 10 Years of Complementing Conventional Therapy

Center soon to expand services to facility in Bay Area

M. D. Anderson News Release 10/31/08

Next month, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center's Place ... of wellness will celebrate its 10th anniversary of offering complementary and integrative medicine programs and educational resources to survivors, patients and caregivers impacted by cancer.

As the first quality-of-life wellness facility of its kind at a comprehensive cancer center, Place ... of wellness has evolved from a center solely dedicated to offering complementary therapies to patients at one location to providing a series of programs in multiple locations that address people's emotional, psycho-social and physical needs.

"When Place ... of wellness opened its doors in Sept. 1998, we offered 17 programs and about 90 participants entered our doors that month," said Laura Fletcher, director of Place ... of wellness. "Now, we offer more than 50 programs and serve about 800 participants across multiple locations."

Today, Place ... of wellness provides services in the Lowry & Peggy Mays Clinic and the R. Lee Clark Clinic on M. D. Anderson's main campus. This fall, the center plans to provide some of its integrative medicine programs - full-body massage and a group activity once a month - at M. D. Anderson's suburban Clinical Care Center in the Bay Area, with other treatment centers to follow suit in the future.

"These expansions will allow us to meet the needs of more patients and provide integrative medicine programs and improve the quality of life of those touched by cancer," said Fletcher. "The services at Place ... of wellness will be available at more convenient locations throughout the greater Houston area."

A Decade of Caring
In collaboration with M. D. Anderson's Integrative Medicine Program, the wellness center creates personalized complementary medicine for each visitor; educates existing and future healthcare professionals on properly administering therapy in the clinical setting; and helps increase awareness and credibility of complementary therapies amongst the healthcare community through research.

"About seven or eight years ago, the complementary and integrative oncology field was overlooked by most clinicians but was of great interest to patients," said Moshe Frenkel, M.D., medical director of the Integrative Medicine Program at M. D. Anderson. "Today, it's an evolving new field accepted among doctors and most large cancer centers."

Research is a key component at Place ... of wellness. Studies conducted by the center and Integrative Medicine team show that music therapy, a commonly used treatment in complementary and integrative medicine programs in hospitals, improves patient's quality of life by helping them better communicate their fear, sadness or other feelings and better manage stress and alleviate physical pain and discomfort. When focusing on patients whose treatments require them to go without human contact, massage therapy improves those patient's relaxation, sleep and immune system responses and relieves their fatigue, pain, anxiety and nausea.

"We're discovering the uniqueness of each program," said Frenkel. "With our research and the services offered at Place ... of wellness, we're able to consult with patients on the types of complementary medicine that will improve their quality of life and then refer them to the wellness center where they learn how to safely practice those therapies."

As credibility of complementary and integrative medicine is established through further research, Place ... of wellness strives to play an integral role in meeting each patient's physical, emotional and mental needs. The perspective that "every cancer patient can benefit from these services" will direct the plans of the wellness center, said Frenkel.

"One of the things I hear from patients is, 'if I knew about complementary medicine before my therapy, then I would have started it much earlier,'" said Frenkel. "With this in mind, complementary and integrative medicine will be considered at the assessment stage and become more integrated into clinics and inpatient and outpatient facilities."

To learn more about the Place ... of wellness or the services it provides, visit 

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center