After two years of receiving treatment for stage 4 lung cancer, Diane Miller said she was still struggling with anxiety and lack of sleep.

So when she was referred to meditation therapy earlier this year, the Costa Mesa resident said she didn’t know what to expect. But it’s been an “absolute game-changer,” Miller said.

“It has given me the ability to enjoy life, to appreciate every day, to have a little control in this uncontrollable situation,” Miller, 57, said. “It allows me to calm my anxiety, to rest and just have a more positive outlook overall.”

Meditation, yoga, tai chi and acupuncture will be some of the integrative therapies offered to City of Hope patients as part of a national integrative oncology program fueled by a $100 million gift from Andrew and Peggy Cherng, co-founders of the restaurant chain Panda Express. The gift is the single largest philanthropic contribution for cancer care in City of Hope history and the largest donation the Panda Charitable Family Foundation has made to any organization, City of Hope officials said.

Integrative oncology is a holistic approach to cancer care that draws from diverse cultures, particularly traditional Chinese medicine and other Eastern healing traditions.

Some cancer patients, including Miller, have already been receiving integrative care at the City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, next door to where the new cancer hospital is being built. The new program, called the Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology at City of Hope, will expand services already offered, add new ones (such as oncology massage), conduct research and clinical trials and develop therapies to eventually make them the standard of care at City of Hope.

For now, Miller receives meditation therapy once a week but will start acupuncture and tai chi as soon as she’s cleared, she said.

“I tried conventional medicines to treat the anxiety and trouble sleeping,” Miller said. “They just weren’t right for me.”

The difference is night and day, Miller said.

Work on the program is already underway in Orange County and will ultimately span the entire City of Hope system, City of Hope Orange County physician-in-chief Edward Kim said.

“We want to interweave (integrative oncology) with the cancer care that patients receive at City of Hope — not make it separate,” Kim said. “The goal is to make it exist within the four walls.”

The Cherngs’ gift will also establish an integrative oncology fellowship that City of Hope plans to launch within the next year. The fellowship, as well as the Cherng Family Center’s work, will be led by Dr. Richard Lee, the Cherng Family Director’s Chair for the Center for Integrative Oncology at City of Hope and Kim’s first recruit for City of Hope Orange County.

These programs will be piloted at City of Hope campuses in Irvine and Duarte before expanding to the national City of Hope network.

The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute at UC Irvine has a similar program in place.

The institute, which opened last year, offers nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, yoga and group medical classes to patients and is open to the community for yoga, tai chi and nutritional cooking classes as well as educational lectures and events.

An estimated 40% of cancer patients use integrative therapies annually to address disease and chronic issues, according to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, but few healthcare organizations provide access to integrative therapies under physician supervision, City of Hope said in a news release.

“Panda’s values and our family’s values are about taking the best of Eastern heritage and Western upbringing to benefit the people around us,” Peggy Cherng said. “As a direct application of our values, this gift focuses on what is possible when Western medicine’s ability to cure the disease is combined with Eastern medicine’s role in restoring the body to holistically heal cancer patients.”

“As immigrants, we recognize the privilege we’ve been afforded from our communities and want to give back and provide opportunities to those we serve,” she said.

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