New York, NY
This is a long one; sorry, everyone.
I've been a patient of Dr. Piken's since 2005, off and on. Off because I moved in and out of New York a few times, though my interaction with Dr. Piken was influential enough that I sought out a chiropractor wherever I went. My initial visits to his practice weren't focused around a specific complaint, though I found myself using chiropractic to manage the aches and pains of running. It wasn't until the summer of 2010, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, when I began to appreciate how important Dr. Piken's care and insight were not only to the management of my disease, but to my overall feelings about health and wellness.
When I was diagnosed, in addition to pursuing conventional treatments, I immediately consulted with Dr. Piken. We talked about the role of chiropractic adjustments and nutrition, but he also reminded me about listening to my intuition, not being scared into anything and being an advocate for what I need and believe - advice that was difficult to reconcile with the the philosophy at the large, one-size-fits-all institution where I was a patient, but which ultimately led to a treatment plan that felt right for me. Surgery, chemo and radiation were generally easy for me and seem even more so when I hear fellow patients describe their experiences. I credit this to the complementary care I received from Dr. Piken, as well as his support during those long, frustrating days of treatment. Toward the end of chemo, when I was exhausted, struggling to focus and experiencing the first symptoms of lymphedema, something he said brought tears to my eyes - "This is how your body has chosen to heal itself." Whenever I notice some twinge or annoyance leftover from my surgery, I remember those words and feel better; like many of his words, I'll carry them with me.
I did suffer one side effect from treatment: I developed lymphedema secondary to the removal of lymph nodes during surgery and subsequent chemotherapy. The lymphedema therapists with whom I consulted told me that lymphedema was irreversible and that treatment was limited to compression and massage. My expectations were a lot higher than not wanting it to get worse; I wanted it to go away. Dr. Piken suggested laser therapy, and I was able to find research studies demonstrating the benefits associated with laser for lymphedema patients. I'd had the laser before, as treatment for pain relating to a meniscal tear (a running injury). It worked, so I was more than willing to try again. Knowing that it couldn't do any harm, that it was painless and would take ten minutes once or twice a week, I eagerly began laser therapy, which was coupled with regular adjustments.
After several weeks of treatment, the lymphedema was no longer visually appreciable, and measurements showed my affected left arm was now smaller than my right arm. Not bad for an "irreversible" condition. I should also add that the lymphedema improved while I was undergoing radiation, which is known to cause the condition or make it worse.
Months later, the improvement in my arm has been maintained, and I have no symptoms of lymphedema. My cancer treatment is complete, and I think of myself as whole and healthy. I couldn't be happier with my experience and am grateful for Dr. Piken's wisdom, open-mindedness and dedication to empowering patients and giving us the tools to heal, whether that's an adjustment, nutritional advice or laser therapy. I believe Dr. Piken's holistic approach to care can be credited with not only making my surgery, treatment and lymphedema manageable, but actually not that big a deal, and certainly not an impediment to living a healthy, happy life. Before I met Dr. Piken, I was scared to trust a chiropractor; now I can't imagine my healthcare team without one. Dr. Piken has been an invaluable friend, guide and partner in health.