TAMPA, Fla. - At 32, Kim Buettner had her whole life planned.
"I knew when I wanted to get married," she said. "I knew how long I was going to live in an apartment before we moved to a bigger house. I knew when we were going to have children. I had it all figured out."
But she hadn't figured on stage-three breast cancer.
"I had a double mastectomy. I had chemotherapy, radiation and I went through genetic testing as well," Buettner continued.
The aggressive treatment came with serious, long-term side-effects.
"I tried a lot of the other options that they gave me, but it just wasn't working, so one of the treatment suggestions they provided was acupuncture," shared Buettner.
She started with weekly treatments and continues it now once every three weeks. Dr. Liem Quang Le, an acupuncturist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, said it stimulates the body's natural ability to heal itself.
"I am able to help reduce the side-effects that they go through from the fatigue, the body aches, the nausea, the vomiting," said Quang Le.
It's been used for thousands of years as part of traditional Chinese medicine. While it's no cure, it gives patients a natural way to cope with often-times toxic treatments.
"They just have a better sense of well-being. They're able to thrive through the treatment a lot stronger," Quang Le said.
The needles are strategically placed, triggering nerves to ease pain.
"It sends a signal up to the brain and the brain secretes out opioids, a natural pain killer, or endorphins. It helps shifts your mood or relax you," Quang Le explained.
For Buettner, it's life-changing.
"I know that it's making a difference," exclaimed Buettner.
The needles used in acupuncture are tiny, smaller than the ones to give blood. It's safe for all ages and can also help loss of appetite, depression, fatigue and anxiety. Check with your health care provider to see if it's covered by insurance.
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