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The role of integrative physical therapy in cancer care - by Katie Estridge

Katie Estridge is an integrative physical therapist and pain coach at The After Cancer.

Katie Estridge is an integrative physical therapist and pain coach at The After Cancer.

Cancer is a horrible disease

It robs people of their health and sometimes of their loved ones. My dad was a healthy 59-year-old when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His good health and the fact that he was a non-smoker disguised his illness. He lived for one year, fighting constant nausea, awful side effects from the clinical trial he was on, and overwhelming sadness. We are a close family and it was very hard on all of us. I was his medical advocate, fighting like hell for the best care, the best options, for hope. When he died, we tried to focus on the wonderful, happy life he lived and not our anger towards the cancer that took him away from us.

All too often, cancer happens to those really special people in our lives, those people who don’t deserve it, those people we can’t live without. Not that anyone deserves a scary diagnosis of cancer. I have seen all types of people with all types of cancers in my almost 20 years as an integrative physical therapist. Each one waged a battle in their head and their body. “Will I live or survive?” “Will I get past my cancer or will it be what kills me?” “Can I keep doing this?”

Cancer brings difficult emotions alongside pain

Cancer brings difficult emotions… sadness, grief, despair, frustration, exhaustion, anger, feelings of being overwhelmed, and disbelief to name a few. Sometimes people experience persistent physical pain. Oftentimes underneath the physical pain lies a well of unresolved emotional pain. One of the things I like to teach people with persistent pain is just to sit with their emotions. It makes them not seem as bad when we acknowledge that these emotions are perfectly normal. Being fearful, angry, sad, scared, and frustrated is okay. I let them know that anyone in that situation would feel the same way.

Sometimes our brains perpetuate chronic symptoms and pain because of these difficult emotions. The good news is that the brain is neuroplastic. I teach people how to change their brains to change their pain. This coaching, in combination with physical therapy, leads to lasting healing and cures chronic pain or symptoms.

What is integrative physical therapy?

I am an integrative physical therapist so I look at all aspects of my patient’s lives and figure out how to make them as well as possible. We talk about fitness, nutrition, sleep, meditation, pain, breathing, and general level of contentment while taking into account the client’s medical history. I genuinely want the best for everyone that I have the honor of treating. I want everyone to feel their best and live their best lives. After all, we only have one life to live. I try to honor my Dad, Larry, every single day by living my best life and helping others to do the same.


Check Katie Estridge's profile and book your first session together.


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