The Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients and their families by incorporating complementary therapies into traditional cancer care.
Through clinical services, education, and group programs led by physicians, therapists, nurses, and other health care professionals, the Center empowers patients to be active participants in their treatment plans. This integrative cancer care can help patients feel better by reducing the pain, stress, and anxiety caused by cancer and its treatment.
The Zakim Center also seeks to build knowledge about the effectiveness of these therapies through peer-reviewed, evidence-based research.
View this video to learn how integrative therapies helped Lenny Zakim, Larry Lucchino, and other patients manage their symptoms and feel better during treatment.
About Integrative Therapies
Integrative therapies range from individual treatments, such as acupuncture, massage, and Reiki, to group programs for movement, meditation, and creative arts, as well as exercise and nutritional consultations.
Research conducted by Dana-Farber investigators and others has shown that, when used in conjunction with traditional cancer care, complementary therapies can help ease cancer-related symptoms and improve your quality of life. Medical experts worldwide now view integrative therapies as an effective complement to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
How integrative therapies can help
Adult and pediatric patients treated at the Zakim Center credit the Center's range of integrative therapies with helping them increase their quality of life and ease symptoms such as nausea, reduce pain, and lessen the anxiety associated with their treatment.
All Dana-Farber patients are eligible to take advantage of the Zakim Center's one-on-one offerings and free group classes to ease their symptoms and feel better during treatment. We also offer lectures and educational seminars on topics related to integrative therapies and cancer treatment, which patients, their families, and their caregivers are invited to attend.
Costs and insurance
The mission of the Zakim Center is to make integrative therapies available and affordable for all Dana-Farber patients. Some services can be billed to health insurers, and others are offered at a reduced rate. Additionally, all group classes are free of charge. For those services with a charge, we will provide you with a receipt to submit to your insurance company to seek reimbursement. We can also discuss your financial concerns regarding health care coverage.
Lenny Zakim and son Josh
About Leonard Zakim
Leonard P. Zakim, a Dana-Farber patient, found comfort and renewal by combining acupuncture, massage, Reiki, and other integrative therapies with his chemotherapy and radiation. The Zakim Center was his dream. Throughout his five-year treatment for multiple myeloma, he worked tirelessly to make integrative therapies available and affordable to all Dana-Farber patients.
With the same passion he showed as an attorney, civil rights activist, and New England Region director of the Anti-Defamation League, "Lenny" Zakim worked with doctors, administrators, and other patient care advocates to make his goal a reality. Just before his passing in 1999, he was able to announce the establishment of the Zakim Center, which opened at Dana-Farber the following year.
A standard practice within traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, acupuncture has in recent decades been widely accepted by Western culture as an adjunctive treatment for many illnesses, including cancer.
Acupuncture involves having hair-thin needles gently inserted into the skin at specific points, called acupoints. When stimulated in this way, as well as with heat, acupoints can help us correct and rebalance physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional energy.
Acupuncture is one of the Zakim Center's most popular offerings. Patients describe it as a calming and invigorating experience that can help them manage the symptoms and side effects associated with cancer. This therapy is available for both adult and pediatric patients in individual sessions.
See how acupuncture helped a Dana-Farber patient enjoy eating again after cancer treatment.
Massage and other forms of therapeutic touch date back 3,000 years to China. This ancient practice can improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and decrease anxiety, apprehension, and stress.
By stimulating the brain to produce endorphins — the natural pain suppressors of the body — massage can improve patients' general sense of well-being. Our therapists give full body massages, while volunteers offer free hand massages to patients during chemotherapy. Massage therapy is available to adult and pediatric cancer patients in individual sessions, and during infusion in certain treatment centers. Ask your care team for more information about infusion massage.
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction that is safe, natural, and easy to learn. You simply lie down on a table, fully clothed, while a licensed Reiki master (teacher) places his or her hands on various parts of your body. In addition to making you feel more relaxed, safe, and secure, a proficient instructor can facilitate energy flow to the areas where you need it most — often creating a warm feeling in those locations. Small studies have shown that the practice can help reduce anxiety in cancer patients. Reiki is available to adult and pediatric cancer patients in individual sessions, and during infusion in certain treatment centers. Ask your care team for more information about infusion Reiki.
Learn more about the benefits of Reiki for cancer patients.
Integrative Medicine Consult
If you're wondering which therapies may be beneficial for you, ask your oncologist for a referral to meet with David Rosenthal, MD, for an integrative medicine consultation. Dr. Rosenthal will explain the safety and benefits of our integrative therapies, how they work in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment, and which ones may best fit your diagnosis, treatment schedule, and interests.
Visit our Program Calendar for a schedule of all current group offerings.
The Zakim Center offers a variety of group movement programs, including free classes in qigong, tai chi, and yoga. These therapies, which include mind-body, meditation, and breathing techniques, can ease tired muscles, reduce stress, and increase positive energy. Qigong, tai chi, and yoga are available in group sessions for adult patients at all fitness levels.
Learn how qigong can benefit cancer patients.
Learning to let go of negative or fearful thoughts through meditation can help patients reach a more peaceful state of mind and feel more physically relaxed during their cancer treatment. Mindfulness can increase your awareness of, and appreciation for, your surroundings. These workshops are available to adult and pediatric patients in a group setting.
Learn more about meditation as complementary therapy from the National Institutes of Health.
Expressing oneself through the arts, whether visual or musical, can help patients feel more relaxed, support pain management, and provide valuable coping skills. The Zakim Center's creative arts specialists provide guidance to patients in painting, writing, and making jewelry, collages, and other visual media. Our music therapist facilitates group experiences that explore active music making and listening, paired with mindfulness and relaxation techniques to decrease feelings of isolation and enhance quality of life for cancer patients. Materials are provided for these sessions, and no artistic experience is necessary.
Learn more about the Creative Arts Program.
Meet Our Team
Jennifer Ligibel, MD
Jennifer Ligibel, MD, is director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Ligibel does extensive research into the benefits of exercise for cancer patients and survivors.
Integrative Medicine Consults
David Rosenthal, MD
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Grant Hou, MB, MS, Lic.Ac.
Zhi-ping Li, MB, MA, Lic.Ac.
Weidong Lu, MB, MPH, PhD, Lic.Ac.
Liying Wu, MB, Lic. Ac.
Dongyan Yu, MB, MS, Lic.Ac.
Joy Zhang, MB, Lic. Ac.
Cynthia Gillan, LMT
Oncology Massage Therapist
Barbara Harris, M.A., LMT
Oncology Massage Therapist
Maria "Bambi" Mathay, LMT
Oncology Massage Therapist, Reiki Master Practitioner
Cindy Northrup, LMT, NCTMB
Oncology Massage Therapist
Theresa Ochenkoski, LMT
Oncology Massage Therapist, Reiki Master Practitioner, Certified Foot Reflexologist
Ramel (Rami) Rones
Qigong and Tai Chi Instructor
Elana Rosenbaum, LICSW
Heather Smist, MT-BC
Expressive Arts Therapist
Ann Marie Turo, OTR/L
Administrative Support Specialist
Victoria Kennedy, MA
Manager, Disease Center Operations
All Zakim Center programs are free of charge and open to patients and their caregivers at all fitness levels. Please call 617-632-3322 or email Zakim_Center@dfci.harvard.edu to register for a program, as space may be limited.
Tuesdays, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330
Fridays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330
Tuesdays, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330
Fridays, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330
Gentle Hatha Yoga
Wednesdays, 10:00 – 10:45 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330
This gentle Hatha Yoga class is open to patients who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, are receiving treatment, or in remission. Learn gentle stretches and breathing techniques that calm you, and leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed. Yoga mats will be provided or you may bring your own. Family and friends are welcome.
Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m.-noon, Smith Building, Room 330
This one-hour class fuses the practices of Hatha Yoga and Pilates and is open to patients who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, are receiving treatment, or are in remission. This class will work on building strength, endurance, and flexibility, while toning the deep core muscles. Yoga mats will be provided, or you may bring your own. Family and friends are welcome. Patients in active treatment will need medical clearance from their physician prior to registration.
Level 1-2 Hatha Yoga
Wednesdays, 12:15 – 1:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330
This level 1-2 class takes it up a notch and challenges you to the core. Learn a variety of yoga sequences that will challenge you both mentally and physically, and return to your activities of daily living feeling energized and refreshed. Yoga mats will be provided or you may bring your own. Dana-Farber staff are also encouraged to attend this session. Patients in active treatment will need medical clearance from their physician prior to registration.
Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330
The Creative Arts Studio is located within the Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center, on the first floor of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. The studio has open hours Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
February 17, March 17, April 21, May 26, and June 23, Noon to 2 p.m.
Explore the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) from Dana-Farber's Creative Arts studio (Yawkey 1), and create your own masterpiece with MFA educators. No experience is necessary, and all materials are provided.
Mondays, 11:00 a.m. – Noon, Smith Building, Room 330
Find your beat, and experience the uplifting power of rhythm. Group drumming can support relaxation, stress reduction, improved mood, and sense of community. This session includes an exploration of mindfulness in basic drumming techniques, and a guided group drumming experience. Instruments are provided, and no prior music experience is necessary.
Fridays, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330
Connect to your breath, body, and joy through group singing. Discover how group singing can support relaxation, mood, sense of community, and pain management. Lyrics will be provided. Song requests and discussion are welcome, and no prior music experience is required.
To learn more about our complementary therapies for cancer patients, email Zakim_Center@dfci.harvard.edu.
To schedule an appointment for acupuncture, massage or Reiki, please call 617-632-3006.
We will make every effort to schedule your appointments for a time when you are already coming to Dana-Farber so you don't have to make a separate trip.
Because we know unforeseen medical situations and other interruptions can occur, we try to remain flexible. Our cancellation policy requires 24-hour notice prior to your scheduled Zakim Center appointment. To make changes to/cancel an appointment, please call 617-632-3006.
For other questions, or to register for a group program at the Zakim Center, call 617-632-3322, or email Zakim_Center@dfci.harvard.edu.
Art Studio or Environmental Music Volunteer
If you're interested in becoming an Art Studio or Environmental Music volunteer with the Zakim Center, please email Zakim_Center@dfci.harvard.edu with your name, age, contact information, statement of interest, and 1-2 audio samples (for music volunteers). A representative from the Zakim Center will then contact you regarding your application.