Practitioner’s Own Health Struggles Set Course for Career in Oriental Medicine
Feb 01, 2020 11:11PM
Rosa Panos, PT, AP, Dipl. O.M., founder of RP Acupuncture Integrative Wellness and co-founder of Physical Therapy Specialists, in Palm Coast, began her journey as an integrative wellness practitioner through her own health struggles.
A life-long fitness enthusiast, Panos shares that she was always physically active and athletic. One year, while on a ski vacation, she tore her ACL. Her injury healed through surgical intervention and intense physical therapy. “My supervisor encouraged me to go to physical therapy school, and, long story short, I was accepted to the program, quit my job and became a physical therapist.”
Panos’ life and career took another turn when, at 38 years old, she discovered a lump in her breast that was diagnosed as triple negative cancer. “I was treated aggressively with chemotherapy and radiation,” shares Panos. As a result, she developed a strong interest in oncology rehabilitation, earned certification as a lymphedema therapist and started her journey treating cancer patients.
During this time, Panos, who was serving as Director of Rehabilitation at East Cooper Regional Medical Center, in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, decided it was time to fulfill her dream and open her own PT clinic. She discovered Flagler Beach and knew it was a good fit for her active, outdoor lifestyle. Panos and colleague Nicole Marcelli opened Physical Therapy Specialists in 2005.
Her own health would take center stage once again when Panos developed autoimmune disease. It had been several years since her cancer treatments ended. Panos realized her body was out of balance and once again turned her focus to her own health. She was told it could not be cured or improved and would only progress with time. Panos hadn’t considered alternative medicine but was willing to try anything to regain her health.
She sought help from a Doctor of Oriental Medicine in Gainesville, where she received acupuncture for the first time. Driving home from the first treatment, Panos recalls feeling renewed hope for her recovery. “This began a five-year journey of herbal medicine, supplements, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle modifications. Oriental Medicine was so powerful; my autoimmune condition was completely resolved, and I felt incredibly healthy and vibrant. I really don’t think I’d be here had I not gone the alternative route.”
Panos’ dramatic healing experience led her to earn a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM) degree. Three years later, she opened RP Acupuncture, located next to Physical Therapy Specialists. Every day she is able to introduce others to Oriental Medicine and witness the profound impact it has on her patients. “There are so many wonderful healing stories, including cancer rehabilitation, kidney disease, mental health issues and chronic pain,” shares Panos.
Panos has a complete Chinese herbal pharmacy within her clinic, and also provides acu-point injection therapy. “These homeopathic injections are natural substances and can include Chinese herbs and regenerative stem cells. They’re a non-steroid anti-inflammatory used for many purposes including pain management, anti-aging, facial rejuvenation, cold and flu symptoms, energy deficiencies and general well-being.”
Panos’ driving force is helping others. “I’m a healer. I know first-hand that medical problems can be scary. Proper diagnosis and a correct treatment plan are essential. By combining Eastern and Western theories, we can treat the root cause and alleviate pain and illness while restoring health.”
When Panos looks back, she realizes the twists in her own life created this opportunity for her to heal others. “I think everything happens for a reason, and cancer was part of that journey. It opened my eyes to other medicines that I never would have thought twice about,” she affirms. “When I reached out and drove to the other side of the state seeking treatment for myself, I was stepping out of a box. It was unbelievable. At the time I had a lot of stress from opening my new business, starting a new life in Florida and medical issues. The Oriental Medicine settled everything. It makes you whole—the acupuncture and the herbs, it balances you and gives you a beautiful foundation to live from.”