LI group supports cancer patients taking holistic approach

Rita Mahoney's sister, Maria, of Smithtown, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. She was clear for a few years, but then was re-diagnosed with stage 4 that had spread to her bones.

Rita Mahoney's sister, Maria, of Smithtown, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. She was clear for a few years, but then was re-diagnosed with stage 4 that had spread to her bones. (4/21/17)

SMITHTOWN - A Long Island-based foundation is helping support and fund those taking a holistic approach to fighting cancer.

Rita Mahoney's sister, Maria, of Smithtown, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. She was clear for a few years, but then was re-diagnosed with stage 4 that had spread to her bones.

Her sister says toward the end of her life, Maria tried holistic treatments after doctors told her they had exhausted all different chemotherapy options.

"We sent her to a program in Reno, Nevada for three weeks for an alternative treatment and it cost $50,000," said Mahoney. That fee is not covered under any insurance.

Mahoney says that's why Maria'Z Hope Foundation was born, after her sister lost her battle to cancer at the age of 50.

"People should have a choice and it can be in addition to their western medicine, but if they want to try acupuncture, reiki, eating organically, we give them the funding to do that," she says.

Janet Shahata, a nurse at NYU Winthrop Hospital, says depending on the patient, holistic treatments can help. However, she says it does not replace traditional chemotherapy treatments. Shahata says she hopes that someday insurance companies will pick up the costs for a holistic approach.

"There's a lot of stresses that can happen with traditional chemotherapy that a lot of patients go through, and just to have those therapies available to them makes a huge difference," she says.

It's already made a huge difference to Donna Charielle, who says Maria'Z Hope gave her the courage to write about her struggle with cancer and the support she needed for her difficult recovery.

"It's helpful on so many levels. You're with other people who are going through what you're going through," Charielle told News 12.

Maria'Z Hope is a volunteer-run organization and funded by donations.

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Maria'Z Hope Foundation

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