Natural support for people with cancer and the whole family
I practice traditional Chinese acupuncture (and related therapies) with a special focus on supporting people through cancer treatment and recovery. I also treat many general practice patients whose health concerns are NOT cancer-related. For more information on my general health practice, click here.
I’m here for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer. You’re welcome whether you’re currently undergoing active cancer therapies or if you would like to focus on recovery, prevention and wellness. I, and the other practitioners I work with, 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 I help with?
Making your daily life more enjoyable.
I 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. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 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, acupuncture and TCM can help you regain your strength and energy, getting and staying as healthy and happy as possible. I can also work with you or your loved one to strengthen the 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 can also strategically use herbs that have been found to have anti-cancer effects.
Letting you know you’re not alone.
I am here for you. And not only you, but those around you, who are going through this with you. I support those who support you. I 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.
I 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 me, because I’ve seen it all and am 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. I use a holistic approach that has a 3000+ year 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. I 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, my mission is to allow your body’s own healing intelligence to flourish.
What treatments do I offer? Do they actually work?
Natural methods used for centuries, with a modern understanding.
I blend modern scientific research and classical Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories to offer the best of acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle counselling, and meditative exercises. My practice of acupuncture includes acupressure massage, meridian massage, moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping, guasha (scraping therapy), and qi gong (breathing exercises). I also use mindfulness (awareness) techniques to achieve greater peace of mind, reduce suffering and promote well-being. Find out more about my 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? Safe? How long are treatments?
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. For cancer patients with more complicated medical histories, we may require up to 2 hours to complete the intake and include an acupuncture session.
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.
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 my first consideration when I recommend treatments for people with cancer. I 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. I 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, I flexibly use special techniques as needed (e.g. distal acupuncture, microsystem acupuncture, or needle-less methods such as seeds, acupressure, magnets, etc. My colleagues and I also use the latest available scientific evidence to make sure our recommendations do not interact negatively with your other medications, including chemotherapy drugs. 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.
Let that which we love Be what we do There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth. – Rumi
Pauline Sok Yin Hwang, R.Ac.
- Registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO)
- Honours BSc, Cognitive Neuroscience (McGill University) – research thesis in the Faculty of Medicine
- Diploma of Acupuncture (Institute of Traditional Medicine)
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Diploma (Eight Branches Academy of Eastern Medicine)
- Master’s degree in Medicine, major in TCM Internal Medicine and Integrative Oncology (Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine).
- Internship (2 years) at Jiangsu Provincial Chinese Medicine Hospital
- Memberships: Society for Integrative Oncology, the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada and the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
- Post-graduate training: classical, anatomical and advanced acupuncture techniques, classical herbal formulas, oncology acupuncture (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), TCM and holistic nutrition.
- Research: TCM herb selection and safety during conventional breast cancer treatment (Master’s thesis)
- Mindfulness meditation course developer and facilitator
- Community health experience: active listening, trauma-informed counselling, LGBTQ2S+, anti-racism and anti-oppression, and group facilitation.
For a more detailed bio, click here.
Request your free consultation
Come in to chat, get to know me, and ask questions you might have. It’ll take about 15 minutes, and you have absolutely no obligation to book afterward.