Margo’s Story

Margo is a patient of the UCSF Department of Head and Neck Surgery. She has cancer in her throat that requires intensive radiation—with pinpoint accuracy. To accomplish this extraordinary treatment, she needs to have her head, neck and shoulders absolutely still for an extended period to ensure that the radiation beam touches only her cancer cells. The problem is, Margo has dementia. She is not quite sure what is happening from moment to moment— especially in unfamiliar surroundings, like the treatment room.

What has helped her lay still to successfully accomplish this treatment? Visualization and guided imagery. With a caring Osher Center practitioner helping her focus on breathing deeply and guiding her through a series of images that they have practiced before, Margo can concentrate on the images rather than the noise, sensations, and confinement of the radiation treatment. Being able to cope effectively with this treatment environment allows Margo to complete all the sessions required to shrink the tumor in her throat—which she might not have been able to do without our help—immensely improving her treatment, recovery, and quality of life. This is what compassionate patient-centered integrative medicine can accomplish. With your help, we can do more of it.

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