This year, Desert Regional’s Comprehensive Cancer Center celebrates 30 years of serving our community. In 2011, we interviewed the center’s management team for a story on integrative cancer care – the use of both medical and natural therapies – and wanted to see how things have evolved.

We followed up with the manager of Oncology Supportive Care Services, Anita Chatigny, Ph.D., who has been with the center for 19 years and is an integral part of the evolution.

“Cancer care has been revolutionized in the last 5-8 years,” she says. “The technology is amazing; how we are now harnessing the power of the autoimmune response through medications; our understanding of integrative practices like mindfulness.  The effect on a patient’s overall well-being has increased.” 

Dr. Chatigny first entered health care as a psychologist in the ‘80s and remembers the hard line between the body and mind and that “never shall the two meet.” Today, the fact that the body impacts the psychological wellbeing and that mental stress can have an impact on physiological responses is well documented and embraced.

“We’ve come a long way in understanding that this is really about treatment of the whole person,” she says, and the center has grown with the times. They now have a robust complimentary care program including Reiki, yoga, mindfulness and meditation, art therapy, education and social support. 

“Cancer can be such an isolating experience. Often times, people come to treatment and then go home and close themselves off from loved ones and the things they enjoy,” she says. “We are creating opportunities for patients to come together to enjoy each other under the umbrella of a cancer treatment center so they have a place to, not only come for treatment, but to enjoy other people who share their experiences.” One of their newest projects is social gatherings they compare to the coffee klatches of the ‘40s and ‘50s. “It’s a chance to simply get patients together to socialize so they don’t feel so isolated in their journey. The results we are seeing are pretty tremendous.” 

Dr. Chatigny is encouraged that more physicians want to learn about integrative care to better collaborate with their patients and others are learning more about it in medical school. “So, we have this new knowledge base and a genuine interest from incoming doctors to learn about both traditional and non-traditional medical practices.” 

To help bridge that gap and open the doors of communication, the center created a team of social workers, nurses, a dietician, pharmacist Tim Tyler, PharmD, and
Dr. Chatigny as a resource for both physicians and patients. The team reviews cases where patients are requesting or using integrative modalities to ensure both patients and their physician are knowledgeable about the research. “We provide the education and then let the patient decide how they would like to proceed. We want to ensure that all efforts are transparent for teamwork and best outcomes.”

Desert Regional’s Comprehensive Cancer Center is located at 1180 N Indian Canyon Drive E218 in Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 416.4800 or visit www.DesertCancerCenter.com.

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