Lucy Pauseback, DACM is the founder of La Jolla Oncology Acupuncture & Massage, located in the village of La Jolla and specializing in pain relief and wellness care for patients undergoing cancer treatment. “In addition to pain and discomfort, cancer treatment is extremely stressful, and I use and teach techniques to help a person feel in control of their body even in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation,” says Pauseback, who is a licensed massage therapist as well as a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Pauseback is also a U.S. Army veteran who brings a team mindset to her work. “I aim to make science-backed holistic oncology care available to patients and their caregivers,” says Pauseback, who knows cancer treatment today involves a group of oncology professionals.
Not all of her patients have cancer, but Pauseback sees her work with cancer patients as something of a calling, having witnessed her grandmother undergo treatment for ovarian cancer here in San Diego back in the 1980s.
Pauseback was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and when her grandmother moved to San Diego for advanced treatment, Pauseback and her mother followed.
Still, she took somewhat of a roundabout path to her current career. A gifted musician who attended the University of Iowa on a music scholarship, she stayed in Iowa for several years following graduation, teaching private students, working at a sheet music store, and subbing with local symphonies. Eventually she moved back to San Diego, which is where she was on September 11, 2001, a day that impacted her future just as it did for many others.
Pauseback wanted to put her music education to good use, and enlisting in the military was a way not only to play music full-time but to have a life with greater purpose. She joined the military in 2002 and at the beginning of 2003 she was sent to Manheim, Germany to play with the 76th Army Band, the premier Army band in Europe, which plays at military and diplomatic events throughout Europe and the Middle East.
It was also in Germany that Pauseback met her husband, a German who had studied in the United States, but it would be close to ten years and she would already be working with cancer patients before they finally married.
“The Army was the best thing that happened to me. Coming from a divorced family, it gave me stability. It also gave me structured goals. It paid me to play my clarinet well. It paid me to stay physically fit,” she says.
Like many service members, she found the transition to civilian life difficult, and she wasn’t entirely sure she’d made the right decision in leaving the Army. Back in the United States, she trained as a massage therapist, and in addition to acupuncture and massage, she is also certified in manual lymphatic drainage, an issue for cancer patients whose treatment involves the removal of lymph nodes.
Indeed, Pauseback began to see her work as a way to transfer skills she’d learned in the Army to a different “battlefield,” and eventually Pauseback returned to school to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine, graduating from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (now Pacific College of Health and Science).
During the past ten years, Pauseback has been working with oncology patients at the Acupuncture Center of La Jolla, UC San Diego Center of Integrative Medicine, UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest and La Jolla, and the Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara. Also a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology, Pauseback’s treatment plans are individualized and created with each specific patient in mind.