Oncologist turned acupuncturist Dr. Shi-Hong Loh has found that times of despair are the best times to do good deeds. So after suffering tremendous flooding to his downtown Hoboken office, Dr. Loh began to say to himself that maybe it was a sign.
The desire to pay it forward, coupled with the Chinese New Year on Feb. 10, inspired Loh to give back to Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiology. Those who meet the criteria will be able to receive 10 free sessions of acupuncture from Loh, a package that would typically cost $800 or more. Loh plans to roll out the program for the next six months and reassess at that point.
“As an oncologist with over 20 years of experience, many of those experiences remain in my head. I will never forget those patients or how much they needed help,” said Loh. “They feel miserable, there is no medication for that. Acupuncture can alleviate some symptoms so they can deal with their treatments.”
East meets West
Though Chinese New Year does not follow the common practices of American New Year, such as resolutions, Loh joked that this idea would be his Chinese New Year resolution anyway. In this way, he gets to combine Eastern and Western holidays, much the same way Loh has combined Eastern and Western medicines.
Loh is the former chief of hematology and oncology at St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken. After decades of Western medicine, Loh began to seek something that complimented oncology. By 2006, Loh was gaining more and more patients as a full time acupuncturist.
“In pursuing the art [of acupuncture] I realized in general that Chinese medicine can fill the gap of mind, body, and spirit healing,” he said.
Since then, Loh has dedicated himself solely to acupuncture. He said that it concerns him that some acupuncturists might not have enough medical knowledge.
“I will never forget those patients or how much they needed help.” – Dr. Shi-Hong Loh
Loh explained that a former patient of his complained of back pain. She had a tumor in her back at the site of the pain. If an acupuncturist unknowingly stuck a needle in the tumor, they could actually help spread the cancer.
“If an acupuncturist is not familiar with cancer patients, they may not know how to deal with low blood counts, they may cause infection in these patients, or they may spread the tumor by putting needles in the area. I really worry about these patients,” Loh said.
Meeting the criteria
Patient eligibility begins with those who are currently undergoing intravenous chemotherapy or radiation or they have received these therapies in the last four months.
“I am only one person,” said Loh. “I cannot help everyone, but I want to help those who need it the most. I know symptoms may linger, and for that reason I will see people up to four months after treatment.”
Dr. Loh will evaluate whether the patient is a candidate for the treatments. This evaluation is not to be considered a second opinion, and Loh will not discuss diagnoses or act as an oncologist to the patients. There is a fee for the evaluation, which will be refunded up to 50 percent if the patient is not found eligible.
“I do want them to show some commitment, I want them to be serious and I feel the evaluation fee is a token of that commitment,” said Loh. “I don’t want them to just come here with an attitude of ‘okay, stick me.’ ”
Approved patients will receive 10 sessions, and if more are required after, a discounted rate will be offered.
“One or two sessions is not going to help a chronic condition, which is why I offer 10,” said Loh.
Conditions that might be helped with acupuncture include: chemotherapy-induced nausea, anxiety and depression, post-herpetic neuralgia, dry mouth or dry eyes, fatigue, cough, immune enhancement, peripheral neuropathy, cervical or lumbar radiculopathy and pruritus (itching).
To make an appointment, call (201) 659-0100. Dr. Loh is located at 109 Grand St.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.