We are often asked, “But what do you do?” followed by, “So, what are integrative therapies?” This September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness month, we wanted to take a moment to answer these two important questions. But before we can explain the ‘what’’ and the ‘how,’ we wanted to explain the ‘why’...
Why Integrative Therapies?
“Childhood cancer isn't just one disease—there are over a dozen types of childhood cancer and countless subtypes, each requiring specific research to develop the best treatment for every child. But in the last 20 years, only four new drugs have been approved that were specifically developed to treat children with cancer.” - St Baldrick’s Foundation
Today, only 4% of the $5 billion in federal funds spent annually on cancer research goes towards childhood cancers. The remaining 96% is allocated to adult cancers. These numbers impact how quickly– or in the case of childhood cancers, how slowly - new treatments and innovations will occur. With federal funding stuck at 4%, only 4 new drugs have been developed specifically for childhood cancers since 2000. So, the brutal reality is this: for thousands of children, a cure for their cancer will come too late.
Our Founder, Lucy, knew this, and wanted to offer love and comfort to sick children who deserve better - right here and now- in a way that would help and wouldn’t hurt. Lucy's dream was to deliver free integrative therapies, like those that were so helpful to her during her own cancer treatment, to her peers in and out of the hospital. As Lucy was aware, incorporating integrative therapies alongside traditional medical treatments, can help children with cancer to experience reduced anxiety, improved mood, and better overall quality of life.
What are Integrative Therapies?
Integrative therapies refer to a range of complementary and alternative approaches to health care that are used alongside conventional medical treatments to enhance the overall well-being and quality of life of individuals. They are healing modalities, and you probably participate in some too! Reiki, yoga, massage, art/music therapy, acupuncture, and horseback riding are all examples of integrative therapies. These therapies are often chosen based on their potential to alleviate physical and emotional side effects of cancer and its treatment, and offer a comprehensive approach to healing.
Simply speaking, integrative therapy is like a "best of both worlds" approach to health care. It’s like giving a child with cancer a toolbox, with each tool representing a different way to address a mental or physical health challenge. Instead of using just one tool all the time, families can test out different tools so that they can select the right ones to address their child’s specific needs, giving the sick child the best possible quality of life during a terrifying time.
How Does Lucy’s Love Bus Deliver Integrative Therapies?
A family who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis finds us - through staff or resources at the hospital, our community of supporters, other Love Bus families, or an internet search - and we immediately connect with them to find out how we can help! We work directly with the family to select the integrative therapy and practitioner that their child needs and that will be accessible in or near their home, hospital or hospice. All of the integrative therapy providers we partner with are vetted, insured, and highly qualified – and we pay them directly for their services with Love Bus children, siblings, and caregivers!
Today, thanks to Lucy’s dream, Lucy’s Love Bus provides free integrative therapies to nearly 500 children with cancer - and now their family members! - throughout New England annually! Whether its a traditional integrative therapy (massage, yoga, acupuncture, Reiki, chiropractic care, therapeutic horseback riding), or a complementary activity that enhances quality of life and promotes the joy that belongs in every childhood (gymnastics, dance, swimming, personal training, martial arts), we pay for safe services that will help children with cancer feel better!
For more information on integrative therapies and what integrative therapies Lucy’s Love Bus delivers to sick children and their families, please visit the ‘Programs’ page or see our Glossary of Integrative Therapies & LLB Terms.