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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 and other patients manage their symptoms and feel better during treatment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read our Insight blog for information and inspiration about the Zakim Center.
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.
Reflexology, like other touch therapies, has its roots in ancient culture and civilizations. Reflexology involves touch and specific techniques in the hands, feet, and ears that point to various reflex points in organs, glands, or other parts of the body. Reflexology helps stimulate nerve pathways and encourages relaxation. We use reflexology as an integrative modality in cancer care, to improve quality of life by supporting patients throughout their cancer journey. Reflexology is available to adult and pediatric patients in individual sessions, or during infusion in some treatment centers.
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.
If you're wondering which therapies may be beneficial for you, ask your oncologist for a referral to meet with Anne Kelly, RN, MS, NP-C, AOCNP, for an integrative medicine consultation. She 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. Consultations are currently offered on Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and on Thursdays from 1:00-5:00 p.m.
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.
Try some of the best yoga stretches for cancer patients.
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 Expressive Arts Therapy.
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.
Hear more about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation from ABC correspondent and co-anchor Dan Harris, keynote speaker at the 13th annual Lenny Lecture.
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.
Anne Kelly, RN, MS, NP-C, AOCNPSusan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers
Grant Hou, MB, MS, Lic.Ac.Oncology Acupuncturist
Zhi-ping Li, MB, MA, Lic.Ac.Oncology Acupuncturist
Weidong Lu, MB, MPH, PhD, Lic.Ac.Oncology Acupuncturist
Dongyan Yu, MB, MS, Lic.Ac.Oncology Acupuncturist
Joy Zhang, MB, Lic. Ac.Oncology Acupuncturist
Cynthia Gillan, LMTOncology Massage Therapist
Maria "Bambi" Mathay, LMTOncology Massage Therapist, Reiki Master Practitioner
Cindy Northrup, LMT, NCTMBOncology Massage Therapist
Theresa Ochenkoski, LMTOncology Massage Therapist, Reiki Master Practitioner, Certified Foot Reflexologist
Patricia Arcari, PhD, RN, AHN-BCProgram Manager, Meditation and Mindfulness Programming
Nancy CampbellExercise Physiologist
Ramel (Rami) RonesQigong and Tai Chi Instructor
Ann Marie Turo, OTR/LYoga Instructor
Heather Woods, MT-BCExpressive Arts Therapist
Victoria Kennedy, MAAdministrative Director
Meghan McLoughlinProgram Coordinator
Laura ShockroResearch Project Manager
Jamie ThompsonAdministrative Support Specialist
View the Zakim Center schedule for October
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.
Mondays, 9:30 – 10:00 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330This is a 30-minute class that focuses on your feet and calf muscles. Learn how to stretch and strengthen these muscles, and walk out feeling grounded and lighter on your feet
Mondays, 10:15 – 11:00 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330This 45-minute class is open to all cancer patients, family members, and staff, who will experience Pilates using a chair. If you are unable to get to the floor or want to learn core strengthening exercises that can be done at your desk, this class is for you.
Mondays, 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330This is a 45-minute class in which you will learn how to strengthen your core using the basic principles of Pilates. The class is open to all cancer patients, family members, and staff. No sneakers needed for this class. Registration is required for this class.
Tuesdays, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330Fridays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330This class focuses on gentle movements and exercises to maintain health and well-being. Learn and practice sitting or standing techniques, as well as slow moving meditation focusing on deep breathing and posture to help relax the mind and strengthen the body. This class is open to patients who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, are receiving treatment, or are in remission. Family, friends, and staff are also welcome.
Tuesdays, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330Fridays, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330Qigong (Chi Kung) involves the practice of mind/body techniques by using different postures — lying, sitting, standing still, moving slowly (Tai Chi), and moving quickly (Kung Fu). In this class, you will learn exercises of the mind/body through mindfulness awareness and fluid movement. These techniques will help you relax and increase concentration, while engaging the mind, body, and spirit to improve quality of life. This class is open to patients who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, are receiving treatment, or are in remission. Family, friends, and staff are also welcome. This class features live music on the first Friday of each month.
Wednesdays, 10:00 – 10:45 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330This gentle Hatha Yoga class is open to patients who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, are receiving treatment, or are 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 – 11:45 a.m., Smith Building, Room 330This 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. Registration is required for this class.
Wednesdays, 12:00 – 12:45 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330This 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. Registration is required for this class. This class features live music on the last Wednesday of each month.
Tuesdays, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m., Creative Arts Studio in the Blum Resource Center, Yawkey 1Learn basic craft and fine art techniques in our instructional creative arts workshops. Participants will complete a project with the skills necessary to continue creativity on their own. Recently scheduled workshops include earring-making, fiber craft, and watercolor techniques. No experience is necessary, and all materials are provided free of cost. This program is led by the Zakim Center's Expressive Therapies Manager, Heather Woods, MT-BC, and artists from the Museum of Fine Arts’ Artful Healing Program.
Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Creative Arts Studio in the Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center, Yawkey 1Patients, family, caregivers, and staff are invited to stop by the Creative Arts Studio to create with artists and art therapists, and explore how expressive arts can support stress and pain management. Our experienced volunteers are trained to support you in finding positive creative arts experiences, even on your very first visit. All levels are welcome, no experience is required, and an array of materials is provided free of charge.
Tuesdays, 2:15 – 3:00 p.m., Smith Building, Room 335Thursdays, 2:15 – 3:00 p.m., Smith Building Room 330Experience an alternative mindfulness meditation experience with the presence of live music. Listening to live music during meditation can help focus an active mind, decrease heart rate, anxiety, and pain, and guide you to deeper relaxation. This program is led by Zakim Center's Expressive Therapies Manager, Heather Woods, MT-BC.
Thursdays, 1:00 – 1:45 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330Join experienced staff in the uplifting power of rhythm, even if it’s your first time playing a drum. Group drumming can support relaxation, stress reduction, improved mood, and sense of community. This session includes a guided experience of mindfulness in basic drumming techniques, and group drumming instruction for all levels. Instruments are provided, and no prior music experience is necessary. This program is led by Zakim Center's Expressive Therapies Manager, Heather Woods, MT-BC.
Fridays, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Smith Building, Room 330Experience the Mobile Music Studio, and explore how creativity through music can be a therapeutic and enriching tool for stress and pain management. Using the technology of a fully functioning recording studio, patients can learn studio basics during our drop-in hours, or schedule studio time to write and record your own music. No experience is necessary. This program is led by Zakim Center's Expressive Therapies Manager, Heather Woods, MT-BC.
Meditation is a mind-body practice that can help you relax and access a deeper awareness through connecting your mind, body, and spirit. This 45-minute class will help you learn a variety of meditation techniques, including breath and body focus, guided imagery, and contemplation. This class is open to patients who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, are receiving treatment, or are in remission. Family, friends, staff, and meditation beginners are welcome.
Patient sessions start September 7, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m., Smith Building 330Staff sessions start September 8, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m., Smith Building 330This is an eight-week program led by Patty Arcari, PhD, RN, program manager of meditation and mindfulness programs in the Zakim Center, for Dana-Farber patients and staff to learn how to manage stress and nurture resilience. Attendance at all sessions is required. There is an optional ninth week session on positive psychology, which involves meeting with a strength-based coach.
Tuesday, September 6, "The Power of Our Words" What You Think, You Become," 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., Blum Resource Center, Yawkey 1Tuesday, September 20, "Creative Mindfulness: Art Making for Relaxation," 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., Blum Resource Center, Yawkey 1The Zakim Center and Blum Patient and Family Resource Center invite patients, family, caregivers, and staff to free bi-weekly workshops to learn a variety of strategies for managing stress and developing resilience through expressive arts, meditation, nutrition, and movement. Workshops are located in the Blum Center on Yawkey 1. Please call the Blum Center at 617-632-4527 for specific topics, or to register.
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.
If you're interested in becoming an Art Studio or Environmental Music volunteer with the Zakim Center, please visit Volunteer Services for expectations and an online application.