Health

Research finds benefits of Meditation on cancer patients

Update: 22/09/2016
That"s something that Carole Kinder had a difficult time with after her husband was diagnosed with cancer.
 

Research finds benefits of Meditation on cancer patients

 

Then one day, the couple was sitting in the waiting\r\nroom at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and Kinder saw a flyer about a\r\nmeditation program for cancer patients and their caregivers.

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She thought it could be just what she needed after a\r\nstress-filled eight months.

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"I had a heart attack, my mother died I was\r\ntold I was going to need surgery and then my husband was diagnosed with\r\ncancer," Kinder said. "And my goal for coming to this meditation was\r\nI have to get through this surgery without damaging my heart."

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The six-week group sessions at Moffitt taught her to\r\nfocus her attention on the moment rather than dwell on the past or worry about\r\nthe future.

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And when it came time for her surgery, Kinder says\r\nshe wasn't a nervous wreck.

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"The day before I went to the mall with a\r\nfriend, went out to lunch. I was fine, I slept that night," Kinder said.\r\n"The next morning the surgery turned out to be delayed till the afternoon\r\nand I actually was OK with that, which I don't think I would have been in a\r\nplace like that before I had the meditation."

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Christine Healy, a clinical social worker at\r\nMoffitt, started the hospital's program three years ago with coworker Sharen\r\nLock, a yoga therapist.

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Together, they teach several types of meditation. In\r\none, you focus on your breathing and another called a body scan teaches you to\r\nrelax from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. A guided imagery\r\nmeditation teaches you to visualize pleasant images to replace negative or\r\nstressful thoughts. The idea is to give participants several options and they\r\ncan pick what works for them.

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Patients can now find different classes at the\r\nhospital and some of the meditation guides are posted online.

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Healy says they wanted to help patients and\r\ncaretakers process their emotions after a diagnosis and learn they have some\r\ncontrol over their bodies.

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"With a life of cancer, your life is never\r\ngoing to go back to normal so you have to find ways to be OK again. And I think\r\nthe mindfulness techniques really help people do that."

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There's some evidence that meditation as\r\n"Treatment" can be beneficial.

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Cecile Lengacher is a nursing professor at the\r\nUniversity of South Florida who studied the affects of mindful meditation and\r\nyoga on breast cancer patients.

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She found that when patients went through a similar\r\nsix-week program, their anxiety went down significantly, fear of recurrence was\r\ndramatically reduced and some even said they experienced symptom relief.

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Lengacher says when cancer patients focus on the\r\npresent moment they stop ruminating on what they did to cause their cancer and\r\nworrying about whether it will reoccur.

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"What we have is only today, we don't know if\r\nwe're going to have tomorrow," she said. "So we try to teach them to\r\nattend to the moment today to get the most out of it and the most out of\r\nlife."

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Lengacher hopes that the meditation practice might\r\none day become a regular clinical treatment that doctors will integrate into\r\nthe overall care of patients.

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Lengacher received another grant to continue her\r\nresearch and will be studying the effects of mindful meditation on Chemo brain,\r\nor the loss of memory that happens when cancer patients receive chemotherapy.

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JULIO\r\nOCHOA • Health News Florida

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