Can Mindfulness Help Patients With Cancer
What can Mindfulness Help Patients With Cancer have to Do With Healing? In my 12 years of counseling patients with both terminal and non-terminal cancers, I have found that Mindfulness Therapy-which I call “Minding as Medicine” -can be an excellent adjunct to traditional cancer treatment. Patients who find that traditional therapies are not helping them cope with their cancer experience often turn to holistic modalities. Although not a new concept, my research has shown that Mindfulness Therapy can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments to enhance the patient’s quality of life and create a more healing process-one that I believe is absolutely possible. If you or a loved one are experiencing this type of pain or discomfort, I would urge you to give Mindfulness a try!
In traditional medicine, we often focus on the symptoms. We treat patients based on the latest tests, and we provide symptom relief with drugs and surgery. When we do this, we fail to address the root causes of the illness. For instance, if a patient is undergoing chemotherapy, we are often faced with the decision between constant nausea and intense pain, or trying to keep their body from functioning completely because of that pain.
This scenario plays out over again in the medical profession. Many people with cancer choose to treat their condition using drugs and chemicals-rather than focusing on the root causes of the illness and addressing those aspects. Often, when a person does this, they will report feeling worse for a time and then better. But this cycle continues indefinitely, with side effects and increased toxicity building up in the body. In the long run, it can cause so much damage that the person becomes inoperable during the chemotherapy process.
Holistic approaches to health and wellness offer a real alternative to Western approaches that focus on drugs, chemicals, and surgery. Mindfulness Therapy offers patients a way to activate the mind and cultivate mindfulness by centering their thoughts and attention inward. Studies show that when a person learns how to focus their attention and thoughts and replace destructive thought patterns with more healthy, positive ones, their physical symptoms improve. This makes the body able to heal itself more effectively, and they experience less pain and anxiety.
Can mindfulness therapy actually help patients with cancer? Absolutely. Just like any other health problems, there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. These issues can also be compounded by stressors in our lives. By learning to focus awareness on what is going on within ourselves, we can begin to develop a mindfulness practice that can promote healing within our bodies.
When I was treating a woman with breast cancer, we used mindfulness exercises to try to get her to distraction focus. The exercise was very effective and allowed her to release stress, tension, and pressure that she felt over an extended period of time. This helped her to minimize the side effects of the chemotherapy treatment. This simple exercise may be just what the doctor ordered for your patient, and it can help patients with all types of health issues.