By Lora M. A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Director, Integrative Medicine
Dealing with cancer can be overwhelming. There are appointments, tests, treatments, side effects, and the worry that cancer will return or worsen. Add in everyday responsibilities of work, managing finances, family responsibilities, and other medical conditions or physical symptoms and you have a recipe for stress. Because it is not always possible to change the ingredients in this recipe, learning how to take care of yourself when you do experience stress is important. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is increasing evidence to suggest that mind-body techniques can enhance physical and emotional well-being. These include:
- Meditation: Learn to focus your attention and let go of unwanted thoughts or distractions.
- Yoga: Combine physical movement with breathing and meditation to enhance overall physical fitness and quality of life.
- Qi-Gong: Practice postures and gentle movements to improve focus and promote relaxation.
- Relaxation techniques: Use breathing, muscle relaxation and visualization to achieve a state of relaxation.
- Massage: Experience the application of mild pressure to muscle and tissue to reduce muscle tension and improve circulation.
- Acupuncture: Stimulate specific points on the body to ease pain by inserting thin needles in the skin.
- These techniques are considered safe for people with cancer or with physical limitations when they are performed by a trained provider. At the Moffitt Cancer Center, patients and caregivers can participate in group classes or individual sessions to learn mind-body techniques. Patients in active treatment should check with their doctor before receiving massage or acupuncture.
For more information about these services, please contact the Integrative Medicine Clinic at 813-745-1246 or visit our web page. Fees apply for outpatient massage and acupuncture services.
“I have a type of blood cancer that requires me to be on treatment for the rest of my life to keep it under control. These treatments can come with several side effects that you learn to live with the best you can. For me, yoga has been my source of healing and calm. When I am on my yoga mat I am on my own island in this universe. When I stand tall and grounded in mountain pose I feel so strong and solid that nothing can knock me down. I connect my body movements with full, deep breaths and send my breath to any area of my body that is not feeling well.”
– Michelle Sullivan, Peer Visitor, Patient and Family Advisory Program
Content for this story is from PARTNERS spring 2017; a newsletter of the Patient and Family Advisory Program. For more information about the Patient and Family Advisory Program, please email Kim.Buettner@Moffit.org or call 813-745-1390.