This year, Oakland, California’s Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (CMC) celebrates 25 years of providing integrative cancer care and supportive services for Bay Area underserved women living with cancer.

Named in honor of Charlotte Maxwell who died of ovarian cancer in 1988, CMC continues to thrive today. Fueled by compassion, donations (including Eileen Fisher, Genentech Foundation, The Cancer League ), and a volunteer base of over 200 healthcare practitioners, CMC is a haven of support for those diagnosed with cancer.

Photo courtesy Charlotte Maxwell Clinic

We spoke with Dr. Ines Moeller, LAc, to get an inside view of her experience as a CMC volunteer.

Acupuncture Buzz (AB): What brought you to the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (CMC)?

Dr. Ines Moeller, LAc (IM): When I discovered CMC, I had just moved to California from New York City (where I attended Tri-State College of Acupuncture). I wanted to volunteer as a way to get involved in the community. I really enjoyed working with the women at CMC, so I continued after I started seeing patients in my private practice. Helping patients get out of pain with natural therapies, while building my professional experience in complementary cancer care has been a true gift.

AB: How does your background in cancer research inform your patient care or influence your unique approach at CMC?

IM: While I provide acupuncture services and other therapies, I also understand cancer treatment from a “western” point of view. I continue to learn a great deal from research papers on complementary therapies which get much less attention in medical research field. I also share research findings and new treatments with patients, for example on dietary approaches, infrared light, immune therapy or low intensity electric field for brain cancer.

AB: Can you give us a general impression of how patients regard acupuncture at CMC?

IM: Most patients I have seen look forward to the treatment. It gives them deep relaxation and helps their condition, which is often pain.

AB: Can you share an example of a patient encounter that stands out for you?

IM: I saw a patient a few years ago who came in with severe back pain. She had cancer in her vertebrae (spine). She told me that she couldn’t get a refill in time for her narcotic pain killer, and the NSAIDs available to her didn’t help. She was in tears. I tested a few acupuncture points by pressing them to see if her pain would respond, and it did. After about 20 minutes, the pain in her spine had gone down to about half. At the end of the treatment, she was pain free. She was so happy and gave me a big hug.

AB: Any other insights you’d like to share from your experience at CMC?

IM: Yes, after my son had gone through chemo and I was looking for a complementary therapy for him – like energy healing, reiki or massage – I realized this kind of clinic would be a great addition for children and their families going through chemo. Points for nausea, for example could be taught to parents, which helped my son a lot. I have been thinking of starting a non-profit like CMC for children. I just need partners to help me with it.

AB: This seems like a much-needed resource. How can people contact you to get involved?

IM:  I would be grateful to hear from anyone wishing to help. I can be reached at 510-206-9214 or inesacupuncture@gmail.com.

About Charlotte Maxwell Clinic:

The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic is named in honor of Charlotte Maxwell, who died of ovarian cancer in 1988. Charlotte strongly believed that the integrative cancer care that enhanced the quality of her life in her last months should be accessible to all San Francisco Bay Area low-income, underserved women with cancer. For over 25 years, CMC has provided integrated medical services primarily in Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, through a volunteer base of over 200 healthcare practitioners. Most of their clients are Latina, African-American, and Asian, many speak little to no English and over 70% live below the federal poverty level. CMC is a California licensed free public health clinic and 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donate to CMC today!