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Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies are types of therapies not scientifically proven but accepted as ways that may help treat a certain condition.

Alternative therapies are used in place of conventional therapies and the risks may be unknown. You should always consult your treating clinician when considering complementary and/or alternative therapies.

The following complementary therapies are examples that can be used in combination with conventional medicine for those with melanoma.

Nutrition

To maintain energy levels and enhance your immune system it is important to have a nutritionally balanced diet. This should include fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy carbohydrates that are low in fats and sugar (bread, pasta, rice, cereals) and protein (lean meat, eggs, milk, beans/lentils). Alcohol and caffeine should be kept to a minimum. Discussing your diet with a dietitian may be helpful.

Visit the Dietitians Association of Australia website for more information.


Exercise

Exercise can have a positive impact on your mood and wellbeing but you should be active at a level that is comfortable for you. Even small amounts of activity may make you feel better and improve your sleep.

Evidence shows that physical activity can be effective in lifting low mood, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.
Discussing your physical activity with a physiotherapist may be helpful.

Visit the Australian Physiotherapy Association website for more information.


Rest

Fatigue is commonly experienced by people with melanoma and can be a side effect of melanoma treatments. It is important to allow yourself adequate time to rest and recuperate. To manage excessive fatigue you should talk with your treating clinician.


Meditation and Relaxation

Research has shown that relaxation and mindfulness techniques can counter the harmful physical effects of stress. Methods to elicit deep relaxation include guided imagery, visualisation, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, massage, breathing techniques, yoga, Tai Chi and prayer.


Emotional, spiritual and psychological wellbeing

Ensuring a healthy mind and spirit are important and self-care is essential, especially when dealing with the stress of melanoma. Self-care is any activity that helps you maintain your physical, mental or emotional health and is best when practised routinely.

Connecting with communities of faith or accessing local counsellors may also help in anxiety and stress reduction as well as enabling avenues to discuss difficult and often avoided issues such as the meaning of life, death and dying.

Woman wearing a wetsuit in the ocean sitting on a surf board
“If possible use family members to help with appointments, cooking and some housework. If they can stay at your house, use that time to do the things that fill your cup and recharge your energy. Socialising is very important.”
Scott