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Beth Talmadge felt calm when she heard she had breast cancer.
She knew in her gut she would be okay. The doctors caught her tumor early; her cancer wasn’t aggressive; and she watched her husband beat cancer. She knew her husband would be with her every step of the way.
But she still woke up every day with the thought: “I have cancer.”
Cancer was her first thought in the morning. And her last thought at night. For days and weeks, she waited for test results and upcoming surgery. But once she met with her team of doctors, she felt comfortable and at ease. She felt good about her path through surgery and treatment.
She had a lumpectomy and recovered. Her cancer went into remission.
But she still needed to heal.
Then, she found Maple Tree Cancer Alliance through her medical oncologist.
Taking matters into her own hands
After her lumpectomy in March of 2020, Beth learned of Maple Tree.
A partner with Kettering Health Cancer Care, Maple Tree Cancer Alliance provides exercise services for cancer patients, improving their physical health and bringing them deeper healing.
Beth tried to sign up for Maple Tree, but the COVID-19 pandemic swept up the world. And she—like everyone else—would socially distance for months.
But something resonated with her. She had always been active, and she knew staying active through exercise would help get her through treatments and the first months of the pandemic.
So, she brought Maple Tree to herself.
Every week, Beth put in her earbuds, played an upbeat playlist, set her walking app, and took off. Accompanied by her dog, or only her thoughts, she walked 30 miles per week.
“It never got boring. I would challenge myself by creating new routes, new goals, and achievements,” Beth says. “I felt awesome, strong, and had new found energy.”
She started physical therapy at Maple Tree in February of 2021.
Healing the body and the mind
Beth’s anxiety spiked when she had to tell her children she had cancer. Then again as she waited for follow-up tests. She worried about surgery and about the outcome.
Though everything seemed to work out for the best, she was left with pain to overcome. She knew her healing was just beginning.
While at Maple Tree, she learned about Kettering Health’s integrative medicine services—aromatherapy, exercise therapy, and massage therapy—designed to help cancer patients heal both their bodies and minds. They even offer reflexology, where a reflexologist applies pressure to specific parts of the hands and feet to relieve pain and tension.
Beth wasted no time. She signed up for a massage and then reflexology.
“It’s been an important part of the healing process for me,” said Beth.
“I think it is incredible that you can heal through mind, body, and spirit—through relaxation,” she says. “That is a huge part of the picture, for me.”
Leaving everything on the table
Beth has always valued wholistic health. But cancer left her body sore and tense.
Integrative medicine helped her body relax and heal, and it also cleared her mind.
“It’s helping me to heal and move forward,” she says. “When I walk out of an appointment, I feel like I’m walking on air. I feel calm and like I have left everything there on the table.”
She feels centered.
“I’m connected to my body, how it feels, and how it’s healing. I can tune out all around me and connect with my body for 60 minutes.”
Moving from surviving to thriving
Surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy challenged Beth—physically and mentally.
“When you’re going through cancer, you have all kinds of stresses that you acquire, because you have this scary diagnosis,” she says.
She got through her cancer treatment but found herself dealing with the physical and mental aftermath. Integrative medicine helped her find her center again. She leaves appointments relaxed and ready for each day.
“I ‘float’ out of the building, with my mind reset,” she says. “When you’re knocked off your feet by that diagnosis, those feelings can be managed better with integrative medicine.”
She no longer wakes up thinking about her days as a cancer patient. She doesn’t worry about her cancer reoccurring or ruminate about what happened. She feels better.
As far as Beth is concerned, she sees herself as more than a survivor. She’s a “breast cancer thriver.”