Connie Davis will always remember her roots.
She opened a natural wellness clinic - now named GrassRoots Natural Health and Wellness - in Estevan over two years ago, after a tragic event in her life led her discover the wonders of Thermography.
"My sister died of breast cancer," Davis explained. "She would have been 34-years-old when her breast cancer began, and they didn't find it for 10 whole years. She was at stage 4 when they found it. If they had been able to find it [sooner] she may have had a better outcome."
"So that is really what got me started with all this," she continued. "I spent every single day with her for three years. Through the whole thing, I just knew we had to be able to have answers. And there it was - Thermography - and it was very simple."
Thermography - or Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging - "measures the infrared radiation (heat) which is constantly radiating (emitting) away from the surface of the human skin," states the Thermography Clinic website. "The procedure is based on the principle that chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Since pre-cancerous and cancerous masses are highly metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth. In order to do this they increase circulation to their cells by sending out chemicals to keep existing blood vessels open, recruit dormant vessels, and create new ones (neo-angiogenesis). This process results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast."
By using thermal imaging, activity (such as explained above) can be detected years before a cancerous mass can be detected in the breast through a physical examination or by a mammogram.
"We do this for early detection of breast diseases, because we can see activity in the breast years before a mammogram can see a structure or a lump in the breast," said Davis. "Thermography can see that activity between 250 to 5,000 cells, at the earliest stage, and [with] mammography, it's in to 4.2 billion cells before it can see the lump. So we have a lot more opportunity to find things happening sooner and we can make lifestyle changes to slow down or reverse some of these things from happening. Also, if you do Thermography and mammogram together, you get both anatomy and physiology."
The use of Thermography is growing across the province, as more and more people learn of its ability to diagnose problems early.
"We have doctors around the province who are sending their patients for Thermography," said Davis. "They hear about us and like our reports, so they send their patients here."
In the U.S., due in part to changes to mammogram recommendations, Thermography is growing exponentially.
"In the U.S., they changed [the recommendations] from age 40 to age 50 [for mammograms] last year," Davis explained. "There were a lot of women who were up in arms because [they did not know] how they were going to do breast monitoring. Thermography in the U.S. has really taken off because women are on to it now. There are a lot of doctors in the U.S. that are referring patients for Thermography - lots."
Though most women do not start going for mammograms in Canada until they turn 40, women are recommended to start with Thermography after their 28th birthdays. This is because so many people are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their early 30s.
When undergoing Thermography for - let's say the breasts - a woman sits on a stool behind a privacy curtain. The technicians would have instructed her on positioning prior to having the curtain drawn. Once the curtain is drawn, the she is in a secure, private area.
"She drops the little gown off her shoulders and we tell her to turn this way or turn that way and snap the picture," Davis explained. "She puts the gown back on and it's totally private. This gives them an extra bit of privacy and security so they don't feel invaded."
"Once we have the images and the health history done, we send that up to EMI, which is Electronic Medical Interpretations, and the scans are read by medical doctors," she continued. "We usually have the results back within a week. Patients can take them to their doctors, though we like them to call us so we can explain to them what the information on their scan actually means. Then, we can direct them to find help."
Thermography is not limited to early detection of breast cancer. It can aid in the diagnosis of pain and pathology, evaluate sensory-nerve irritation or significant soft-tissue injury, define a previously undiagnosed injury or condition, identify an abnormal area for further diagnostic testing, and follow progress of healing and rehabilitation. Thermal imaging can be taken of the entire body or of individual regions.
Though Davis started with Thermography at her wellness centre, it didn't take long for her to notice a need for additional therapies to complement her practice. This led her to expand her offerings.
GrassRoots Natural Health and Wellness offers a unique combination of treatments to clients. This includes Low Intensity Laser Therapy, Acutherapy, Lumi 8, OxyOasis (Oxygen facial), Smoking Cessation, and ALPHA LED Light-System.
"We started with Thermography and once we got going with that, we realized that there are a lot of unresolved pain issues out there that people are having problems, first, being diagnosed with, and then finding treatment for," Davis explained. "So I knew that we had to find an answer or solution to help these people, and I found it with the laser therapy."
"Some people have had chronic pain for many years [with] no relief," Davis continued. "They have tried many medications and other treatments that have not really gotten to root of the problem. With laser therapy, we can do that."
Laser therapy works by going down to the mitochondria of individual cells within the body to stimulate healing. It increases circulation of nutrient-rich blood to the problem area, in addition to bringing endorphins - the body's natural pain killers - to the area.
"The first goal that we want to reach is to decrease pain and inflammation," said Davis. "Once this happens, we know the healing process is on its way. It may take several treatments to have the patient feeling well enough to stop their treatments, and some people come in an have maintenance treatments to make sure they do not regress."
Though not everyone needs maintenance treatments.
"Some people come in and have their treatments and they're done, and it doesn't come back" said Davis. "But some of the more chronic pains may come back, so you want to keep up on that."
Davis and her staff at GrassRoots Natural Health & Wellness have seen great success with treating clients over the past two years.
"We have people with no cartilage in the knee and it's rubbing bone-on-bone, and they are able to - with the laser treatment - function and walk, and not take medication."
"The laser treatments can last a few minutes, depending on what we're treating, all the way to over an hour if it's [the] lower back, because we have different placements [for the laser]," continued Davis.
All employees at GrassRoots are fully-trained and licensed, and they commit to ongoing education and training as required.
"We don't just bring a piece of equipment in and start running it," said Davis. "We have fully-certified staff and all the equipment is medical. The treatments are all non-evasive and painless. Many clients find the treatments comforting and some will even fall asleep."
One of the new pieces of equipment at GrassRoots is the ALPHA LED Light-System. It's the first one in Saskatchewan.
"It's therapeutic treatments in a spa-like atmosphere," said Davis. "We have protocols that we run for all sorts of different things, starting off with a detox program. We can help people with problems like arthritis, seasonal affective disorder, insomnia, sleep problems, cold and flu, weight management, and so on."
"A lot of European hospitals are using these therapies, and there are a lot of Canadian doctors in Ontario who are using these therapies as well, because they know that they work," continued Davis. "They send their patients that they know need healing acceleration or things like that."
"They have done a lot of studies with this unit in Europe. There have been studies in Russia that have taken place for detoxification for people with addictions. We're not going to fix people with addictions, but what we can do is help with the detoxification process, and it makes it easier for them as they are getting into a program."
Acutherapy is also available at GrassRoot Natural Health and Wellness.
"GrassRoots Natural Health and Wellness is also a Holistic Allergy Clinic," said Davis. "A Holistic Allergist has a new definition of allergy, which is a BioEnergetic counteraction to a given substance resulting in an abnormality. When the body doesn't recognize the frequency of a substance, it will reject it through one of the four major areas in the body, such as the colon, kidneys, skin and respiratory system."
"We will notice various symptoms in each of these areas such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, headaches, bloating, rashes, etc," she continued. "Acutherapy helps to bring the body into balance or homeostasis. When the body is in balance, it can heal itself from any of these symptoms. With Acutherapy, many people have been helped with these problems without the use of needles or drugs."
Davis holds a strong belief that we are people must take control of their health, and she - just like many other 'Warriors of Wellness' - is here to help educate people on how to do just that.
"I was a nurse for many years, and definitely we have our place for medicine, but because the system is so over-taxed now, people have to realize, they can't get their health into such a state and expected the doctor to then put them back together," Davis explained. "We like to try to educate people, you have to look after your own health."
"Part of what we like to do to is educate," she continued. "Sometimes I go out and I give a talk to a group of women or people, and I'll ask them how many have heard about inflammatory breast cancer. Chances are, none of them put their hand up, and it's the most aggressive type of breast cancer out there. But if they don't know about it, if they happen to develop it, they're not going to know."
Inflammatory breast cancer is different than breast cancer originating from a lump in the breast. With inflammatory breast cancer, the breast size will increase, and there may or may not be inversion of the nipple.
"There may or may not be a discharge from the nipple," Davis explained. "The breast will actually feel warmer and the texture of the skin may change. The skin can change almost to the texture of an orange peel. This type of breast cancer will most often be diagnosed in the early stages as mastitis or blockage of a duct."
If it's mis-diagnosed, it's an aggressive form of breast cancer, however; it's easy to properly diagnose with thermal imaging.
Over the past couple of years, Davis and her staff have helped many people, either through diagnostics, pain relief or relief of other issues. But no matter where GrassRoots may go in the future, Davis is quick to give a heartfelt reminder of its roots.
"We're very excited by what we do," said Davis. "At the end of the day, if we can go home and say we've helped one person today to feel better, than that is what makes us happy. But the place where my heart goes first Thermography, because of my sister."
GrassRoots Natural Health and Wellness is located in St. Joseph's Hospital Primary Care Centre in Estevan. Connie and her staff can be reached by phone at 306-634-8600 or toll free at 1-866-634-8854, or by email at email@example.com.