I was working at CBS NEWS: 60 MINUTES in ‘97 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 often debilitating side effects of chemo. So, I decided to take a complimentary approach, adding not just 1 but eventually 4 acupuncturists to my health care team.
Between rounds of chemo and radiation I received acupuncture and herbs. When my illness progressed, I underwent a grueling stem-cell transplant. Chinese Medicine not only helped relieve the side effects, it served to support my immune system enough to allow my body to turn what had been a terminal prognosis into a happy ending. Had I not received acupuncture in tandem with allopathic treatment, I am convinced I would not be here to tell the tale. Sadly, I’ve known too many cancer patients who did not have that advantage and did not make it. I like to call myself a cancer and chemo survivor. To this day, I continue to receive acupuncture to treat chronic neurological damage as a result of the high-dose chemo and radiation. My progress has been astounding but there is still more road to travel.
In the years since my remission, it’s been my mission to educate the public about Chinese Medicine. But despite pitches to various programs at the networks and cablecasts, acupuncture remains an under-reported and often misunderstood topic. I realized that in order to be taken seriously and be able to explain the medicine effectively, I had to study it in depth. In ‘02, I met my first Classical Chinese Medical (CCM) acupuncturist Libbie Rice, Chair of the Acupuncture Program at the Swedish Institute. She introduced me to Dr. Jeffrey C. Yuen, 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 has served as Academic Dean of the Swedish Institute Acupuncture from '96 through 2011. Their work inspired my decision to enroll in the Swedish Institute Acupuncture Program in the fall of ‘07. 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. [For more about Classical Chinese Medicine, see clips from my film of Jeffrey C. Yuen.]
I opened my private practice on Manhattan’s Upper West Side – YIN YANG ACUPUNCTURE CHANNEL, PLLC – sharing an office space with my mentor and acupuncturist Libbie Rice. I also founded YIN YANG HEALING CHANNEL, INC - a media production company dedicated to promoting Chinese and Holistic Medicine. My first film ACUPUNCTURE: ANCIENT MEDICINE GOES MAINSTREAM is in production.
During my illness, I was devastated that such a serious condition had progressed so far, unbeknownst to me. My colleagues were perplexed. Many thought of me as “the healthiest person at CBS." I thought my body had betrayed me. But I’ve come to realize that I’d been oblivious to countless warning signals that something was terribly out-of-balance. Chinese Medical practitioners are able to pick up and interpret the signals the body sends. I hope to be able to offer patients relief from pain and suffering of any nature, large or small, and to help people further develop the primary relationship each of us has with our body. This is essential if we are to live fully and become who we are meant to be.