Natural support for people with cancer and the whole family
We are a team of licensed, extensively trained health practitioners with a special focus on supporting people through cancer treatment and recovery. We also treat many general practice patients whose health concerns are NOT cancer-related. For more information on our general health practice, click here.
We are here for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer. You are welcome whether you’re currently undergoing active cancer therapies or if you would like to focus on recovery, prevention and wellness. We have advanced training to support patients through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, endocrine therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, precancerous conditions, or palliative care. Family members, caregivers, friends and loved ones are more than welcome, recognizing that the physical and emotional impacts of cancer go beyond any one individual.
What can we help with?
Making your daily life more enjoyable.
We work with you to improve your quality of life and go through your (or your loved one’s) cancer treatments as comfortably as possible. That means aiming to reduce side effects from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other therapies, such as fatigue, pain, numbness/tingling, muscle weakness, tension, nausea and vomiting, poor appetite and digestion, anxiety, insomnia, low mood, dry mouth, hot flashes, night sweats, etc. We can help you improve your energy, mood, immune system, emotional resiliency, blood cell counts, rest and recovery, all according to your own goals and priorities.
Prevention, recovery and rehab.
After you complete active cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.) and focus more on rehabilitation and recovery, our supportive care can help you regain your strength and energy, getting and staying as healthy and happy as possible. We can also work with you or your loved ones to strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation to help prevent the development and progression of cancer, including for precancerous conditions (e.g. cervical dysplasia, colon polyps, chronic atrophic gastritis, DCIS, etc.). While not a replacement for conventional medicine, we also strategically use herbs that have been found to have anti-cancer effects.
Letting you know you’re not alone.
We are here for you. And not only you, but those around you, who are going through this with you. We support those who support you. We offer care for all caregivers, family, friends, and loved ones, to improve everyone’s mood, energy, sleep, physical and mental strength.
Understanding and supporting the real you.
We treat not tumours, but whole people – body, mind and spirit. Whole people from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds and lifestyles. Be real with us, because we’ve seen it all and are committed to non-judgmental and welcoming service.
Personalizing treatment to you.
The scientific understanding of cancer is now that it is not one disease, but a variety of distinct ones, each with unique genetic and molecular processes. Cancer experts are gradually recognizing that the same treatment doesn’t work for everyone, and that tailoring the treatment to the individual is vital. We use a holistic approach that has a long history of understanding each individual’s dynamic state and customizing every treatment.
Your own self-care.
You are the ultimate expert on your body and your needs. We support you in this self-knowledge and self-care by sharing valuable insights from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Whether through dietary, lifestyle, exercise, herbal, meditation or other suggestions, our mission is to allow your body’s own healing intelligence to flourish.
WHAT CAN WE HELP WITH?
Acupuncture and herbal medicine is excellent for various chronic and acute digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, chronic constipation and/or diarrhea, stomach pain, abdominal pain, bloating, gastric or intestinal polyps, acute gastroenteritis, gastrointestinal parasites, and more.
Pain and mobility
Acupuncture (and related methods like moxibustion, cupping, guasha and herbs) is probably best known for its ability to manage pain, including chronic low back pain, degenerative disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal disc protrusions, neuropathy (from chemotherapy, diabetes, etc.), frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, trigeminal neuralgia, acute injuries, and more.
Reproductive and menstrual health
One of Traditional East Asian Medicine’s widely-acknowledged areas of efficacy is the ability to naturally treat gynecological and reproductive health. For those who menstruate, regular acupuncture, moxibustion and herbal medicine can often reduce pain or irregular bleeding from endometriosis, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), fibroids, premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, and more. We are LGBTQ+ positive, and welcome people of all genders and sexual orientations to benefit from this incredibly effective approach to reproductive health.
Stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia
Studies have shown that acupuncture can benefit many people with anxiety, depression and insomnia. As acupuncture can “reset” the nervous system and disrupt the chronic “fight or flight” mode that comes with stress, many people leave the treatments relaxed and find their body naturally moves into a better rhythm of wake/sleep, activity and rest. Incorporating regular acupuncture into your wellness maintenance routine can do wonders to maintain emotional stability.
Asthma, allergies (e.g. allergic rhinitis), recent or chronic coughs, common colds, flus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) can all benefit from acupuncture and herbs. To read an article detailing the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to coughs, colds and flus, click here.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine is used by thousands around the world to help manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, angina, heart disease, and atheroschlerosis, as well as to prevent and manage the after-effects of stroke, such as paralysis, difficulty speaking or reading clearly, weakness or pain.
WHAT TREATMENTS DO WE OFFER? DO THEY ACTUALLY WORK?
Natural methods used for centuries, with a modern understanding.
We blend modern scientific research and classical Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories to offer the best of acupuncture, herbs, dietary and lifestyle counselling, and meditative exercises. Our practice of acupuncture includes acupressure massage, moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping, guasha (scraping therapy), and qi gong (breathing exercises). We also use mindfulness (awareness) techniques to achieve greater peace of mind, reduce suffering and promote well-being. Find out more about our services here.
Used in top-tier hospitals worldwide.
Acupuncture and TCM is now commonly offered at many hospitals, including cancer hospitals, in the USA and around the world, including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Dana Farber Cancer Center (Boston), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Cente (New York), MD Anderson Cancer Centre (Texas), the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Acupuncture is frequently one of the most popular services in these cancer hospitals, as it offers a simple, safe, drug-free therapy that can provide significant relief at a relatively low cost. In addition, many patients report find treatments relaxing and eave with a greater sense of calm and well-being. See this video about the integration of acupuncture into cancer treatment at a children’s hospital in California.
Evidence that it works.
In our clinical experience and research, patients who use TCM often experience significant improvements in energy, appetite, mood, sleep and physical comfort. While it’s challenging to evaluate traditional, personalized acupuncture with conventional biomedical research protocols, numerous studies suggest acupuncture can help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, cancer-related fatigue, leukopenia, pain, neuropathy, xerostomia (dry mouth), dysphagia (swallowing difficulties), shortness of breath, hot flashes, lymphedema, anxiety, insomnia, and digestive problems. Click here to read more about research into this field.
IS ACUPUNCTURE COMFORTABLE? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? IS IT SAFE?
Acupuncture is usually comfortable and relaxing.
Many people even fall asleep during the treatment. For those who are needle-phobic (we can definitely relate!), acupuncture needles are extremely thin, even thinner than a human hair, and cause little to no sensation on insertion. If you’re afraid it’ll feel like getting your blood drawn, it is nothing like this, as forty acupuncture needles can fit inside the opening of hypodermic needle! We also use the very thinnest needles on new or sensitive patients.
Thorough diagnosis, personalized treatment plans.
An initial TCM consultation usually includes background questions about your health and examination of your tongue, pulse, abdomen, and other physical signs to determine the TCM diagnosis. It typically runs 90 minutes and includes (time-permitting) an initial acupuncture session, with no advance preparation required. Follow-up appointments normally take 45-60 minutes including a re-assessment and acupuncture session. Depending on your specific condition, the recommended initial course of treatment may last anywhere from 5 to 10+ sessions. For more information on our services, click here.
Acupuncture is remarkably safe.
Both in general and for cancer patients. Serious problems arising from acupuncture are rare, and generally avoided by well-trained acupuncturists[i]. We advise all patients to inquire into the length and depth of training of any acupuncturist they are considering working with. In Ontario, those registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO) have the highest requirements for length of training in acupuncture and TCM.
“No serious adverse effects were reported in any study. Because acupuncture appears to be relatively safe, it could be considered as a complementary form of palliative care for cancer, especially for clinical problems for which conventional care options are limited.” – Scientific Reports (Nature)[ii]
We follow the highest safety standards for working with cancer patients.
At Oncology Acupuncture Toronto, safety is our first consideration when we recommend treatments for people with cancer. We have extensive post-graduate training in acupuncture and TCM for oncology, and follow published international standards for oncology acupuncture safety[iii]. Only high-quality, sterile, single-use disposable needles are used, following official Clean Needle Technique. We avoid needling close to active tumour sites and use only shallow or non-needle methods when white blood cell or platelet counts fall below the recommended threshold. To maintain safety while maximizing effectiveness, we flexibly use special techniques as needed (e.g. distal acupuncture, microsystem acupuncture, or needle-less methods such as seeds, acupressure, magnets, etc. We also use the latest available scientific evidence to make sure our herbal and dietary recommendations do not interact negatively with your other medications, including chemotherapy drugs. (Herb-drug safety is a major focus of our research, so we do take it seriously!) For more about safety see this reference.[iii]
[i] MacPherson H, Thomas K, Walters S, et al: A prospective survey of adverse events and treatment reactions following 34,000 consultations with professional acupuncturists. Acupunct Med 19:93-102, 2001.
[ii] Wu X, Chung V, Hui E, et al: “Effectiveness of Acupuncture and Related Therapies for Palliative Care of Cancer: Overview of Systematic Reviews.” Scientific Reports 5, 16776, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep16776. [iii] Filshie J, Hester J: Guidelines for providing acupuncture treatment for cancer patients: A peer-reviewed sample policy document. Acupunct Med 24:172-182, 2006.
Oncology Acupuncture Toronto offers natural support to people with cancer and the whole family. We are LGBTQ-positive and strive to be as welcoming as possible toward people from all walks of life, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, dis/ability, age, race, ethnicity, religion, or class background. We are located in wheelchair-accessible spaces, and have subsidies available for those with financial barriers. We work closely with naturopathic doctors at the Marsden Centre for Excellence in Integrative Medicine, experts in integrative cancer care and environmental medicine.
Let that which we love Be what we do There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth. – Rumi
Passion for supporting people with cancer and their loved ones.
Through the personal experiences of her family and friends, Pauline has come to realize the great need for comprehensive, holistic, high quality support for individuals and families facing cancer. This led her to create Oncology Acupuncture Toronto, which cooperates with the Marsden Centre for Excellence in Integrative Medicine, one of the leading naturopathic oncology clinics in Canada, to offer effective, evidence-informed natural supportive care to people with cancer and their loved ones.
Extensive education and training.
Pauline Sok Yin Hwang, Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.), graduated with an Honours BSc degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from McGill University, completing her research thesis in the Faculty of Medicine. Coming from a family of medical professionals, and passionate about how our minds, bodies and environments are connected, she went on to complete eight full years of basic and advanced studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – obtaining a Diploma of Acupuncture (Institute of Traditional Medicine), a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Diploma (Eight Branches Academy of Eastern Medicine) and a Master’s degree in Medicine, with a major in TCM Internal Medicine and Integrative Oncology (Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine). She interned at the Jiangsu Provincial Chinese Medicine Hospital, one of the top-rated integrative medicine hospitals in China. She has been registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario since its inception, and holds memberships in the Society for Integrative Oncology, the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada and the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. She has completed post-graduate training in classical and anatomical acupuncture, classical herbal formulas and oncology acupuncture (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center).
Involved in research and education.
In addition to her clinical training, Pauline is passionate about scientific research in TCM and integrative medicine. Her Master’s thesis project focused on TCM herb selection and safety during conventional breast cancer treatment (surgery, chemo, radiation, targeted and endocrine therapies), completed under the supervision of Dr. Ye Li Hong, Professor of TCM Oncology at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, and Dr. Xiaoshu Zhu, Associate Dean of University of Western Sydney’s School of Science and Health, and key senior cancer researcher at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM). Pauline is a past recipient of a National Science and Engineering Research Council grant, China Scholarship Council funding, and is currently preparing several manuscripts for submission to scientific journals. She has given lectures at NJUCM, served as a preceptor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and been invited to teach at two Toronto-area TCM colleges.
Walking the talk with a mindful, inclusive approach.
Outside of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Pauline has been practicing insight meditation since 2005, a key ingredient of her own healing, and has also developed and led an eight-week mindfulness meditation training course. She has decades of experience in the community health and social justice fields, and draws from her training in active listening, trauma-informed counselling, anti-oppression and facilitation to support individuals and groups with diverse backgrounds and needs. In her spare time, she enjoys dance, camping, reading, meditation, yoga, writing, playing piano, drawing and volunteering.