How Aurora's integrative therapies helped Selena face a cancer diagnosis

In some ways, Selena Barner was really fortunate. Her breast cancer, which was discovered in May of 2017 thanks to her yearly mammogram, was caught very early. In fact, it was considered stage “zero.” But Selena’s cancer journey is a reminder that no matter how early in the process someone hears the words “You have cancer,” those words still fall like a weight, and the journey can still be painful.

“At one point, I had five different doctors or specialists on my team,” explained Selena, who was treated at the Aurora Cancer Care clinic in Grafton. “They help you stay on top of things, but cancer is just overwhelming.”

Selena did not need chemotherapy, but she did have lumpectomy surgery in June of 2017 and had to endure 30 radiation treatments that left the skin around her breast and underarm feeling tight and extremely sunburned. Her cancer also impacted other pre-existing medical conditions, which led her to have a hysterectomy in October of 2017.

A comforting touch that helped her to rest and heal

Something that brought Selena some much needed respite were the integrative therapies offered to her at the cancer clinic. Many times at a radiation appointment she was offered a free massage; she also took advantage of the free Reiki sessions as well. Reiki is a healing technique that uses touch but is much less invasive than a massage. Selena said Reiki helped her relax and calm her mind during a very stressful time.

“They were so kind and it just felt like something magical was happening,” she explained. “I wanted them to come to my house, I wanted them to come to my work, I wanted them to come wherever I was when I felt like I needed to rest.”

Thankfully, Selena’s cancer is now in remission! She wanted to share her story to remind women about the importance of getting a yearly mammogram and to encourage others to support these integrative therapies, however you can.

“I would recommend these services to anyone who’s looking to ease their mind. That’s what they did for me.”

What your support can do

Four kinds of integrative therapies are currently offered to Aurora Cancer Care patients. They are: Reiki, acupuncture, aromatherapy and massage. At least one of those four is offered at all 19 Aurora Cancer Care clinics. The goal is to provide more of them to more patients at more clinics free of charge.

“To date, our efforts have been largely focused on treating survivors undergoing chemotherapy and radiation,” explained Nancy Conway, director of integrative medicine. “I would like to see consultative and treatment services offered at time of diagnosis and with greater access through survivorship.”

You can support this effort by participating in a Mindful Tri this June! Come explore activities such as tai chi, an empowerment walk and various relaxation techniques that reflect the important role integrative medicine can play for those diagnosed with cancer.

What’s especially unique is you get to choose where your money goes: your local Aurora Cancer Care clinic, research efforts or to enhance these integrative medicine services.  Register today and help provide more access to these therapies at


Selena receiving a Reiki treatment at the Aurora Cancer Care clinic in Grafton.

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