Lisa Orlando & Yin Yang Healing Channel
In ’97, I was working at CBS NEWS/ 60 MINUTES when I was diagnosed with an aggressive illness - Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was reluctant to undergo chemotherapy but was told I’d be “dead in a week” if I didn’t. There were no other options, my oncologists said, that could offer at least the hope of a cure. As a dancer and fitness trainer, I’d received acupuncture and had heard it could treat the debilitating side effects of chemo. So, I decided to take a complimentary approach, adding not just one but eventually four acupuncturists to my health care team. Between rounds of chemo, I received acupuncture treatment and herbs.
A year later, my illness relapsed and I began radiation therapy. Here I am after a year of chemo (yes, that’s a wig) with the beloved Ed Bradley who made a surprise appearance at my birthday party in ’98. After radiation. I underwent a grueling stem-cell transplant that I honestly didn’t think I would survive. Chinese Medicine not only helped to relieve the side effects, it served to support my immune system and brought me back to the land of the living. My terminal prognosis turned into a happy ending. Had I not received Chinese Medicine in tandem with allopathic treatment and long after, I am convinced I would not be here to tell my tale. Sadly, I’ve known too many cancer patients who did not have this advantage – some of them in my very same cohort – and they did not make it. Today, I call myself a cancer and chemo survivor. I continue to receive acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to treat chronic neurological damage due to the high-dose chemo and radiation. My progress has been astounding but there is still more road to travel.
After my remission in ‘99, I wanted to educate the public about Chinese Medicine. But despite pitches to the network broadcasts and cablecasts, acupuncture was an under-reported and misunderstood topic. I realized that in order to explain it effectively, I had to study it. In 2002, I began to be treated by Classical Chinese Medical (CCM) acupuncturist Libbie Rice, the Chair of the Acupuncture Program at the Swedish Institute. She introduced me to Dr. Jeffrey C. Yuen, the Academic Dean of the program. Yuen is a Daoist Priest of two lineages: 88th generation of the Jade Purity Yellow Emperor Lao Zi School and 26th generation of the Complete Reality Dragon Gate School. Yuen is a compelling speaker and he travels the world inspiring many acupuncturists and health care professionals wherever he goes. Meeting Yuen and Rice was life-altering. Together they inspired me to enroll in the Swedish Institute Acupuncture Program in the fall of ’07, ten years after my cancer diagnosis.
I am fortunate to be one of only 230 or so acupuncturists to receive a degree from a master's program of Yuen's design.
In 2011, I began my private practice on Manhattan’s Upper West Side – YIN YANG ACUPUNCTURE CHANNEL, PLLC and in 2012, I produced my first short film dedicated to educating the public about Chinese Medicine.
Heather Hart, the central character in the film was a patient at the Swedish Institute Clinic with a very compelling story. [ Watch The Film ] It is the first film in what I hope will be many on the benefits on this ancient and powerful medicine whose time has come - again.
In 2012, as fate would have it, CBS NEWS/60 Minutes called me with an offer I couldn’t refuse – a position as a Producer-Editor for 60 MINUTES OVERTIME – their relatively new online unit. We are a cracker-jack team of producers, editors, and bloggers who report on the behind-the-scenes stories of the weekly broadcast.
Here I am with members of the OT Unit Susie Bieber and Ann Silvio, as well as Marine Biologist Nan Hauser whom we profiled for a story. The unit is always glad to get an interview with Scott Pelley when he's got the minutes to spare. The joke is that we put in more overtime than we should, but I’m doing my best to bring balance and Chinese Dietary Therapy to the unit. I have even treated some of my colleagues in need while on the job.
As someone who balances two careers - Acupuncturist and Producer-Editor - I understand the challenges of regulating Yin and Yang: work and rest, play and sleep, fulfillment of life’s goals as well as the contemplative time needed for divine guidance to rise up into consciousness and lead us in new directions.
If there’s anything these two careers have taught me it’s that healing involves an investigation. We need to bring to light the often hidden or unknown stories our bodies hold inside.
During my illness in ‘97, I was devastated that such a deadly cancer had progressed so far without my knowledge. My colleagues were just as shocked as I was since they considered me ‘the healthiest person at CBS.’ At that time, I thought my body had betrayed me but I’ve come to realize that I’d been oblivious to the warning signs my body was giving. In the years prior to beginning my acupuncture studies, I was at work on a novel that would give the reader an idea of what it was like to walk in a cancer patient's shoes. In 2005, a chapter from that work-in-progress novel called CANCERLAND was published in The Healing Muse magazine (View it here).
At the time I received my diagnosis, something was terribly out-of-balance but I kept on working because that’s what we’re taught to do. While I was not to blame for my illness, I played a role in its manifestation. I’ve come to understand that one of the first steps in healing is change.
Chinese Medicine has taught me to read and interpret the signals the body sends. As a Licensed Acupuncturist, I hope to offer patients relief from ‘whatever ails them’ and to help them further develop the primary relationship between body and soul. This is essential if we are to ‘fulfill our curriculum,’ as the Daoists say – if we are to become who we are meant to be.