Karin Bleecker, a psychologist with Lancaster General Health, teaches a class on mindfulness. She says that examining thoughts, feelings, and sensations that the cancer patient is experiencing can help them cope with their day-to-day treatment of cancer. She uses poetry, meditation techniques, exercises, gentle body work, and assignments like washing the dishes mindfully, to help the patients practice this technique. She says, “It is about bringing awareness to the chatter in the mind that can add to the discomfort they might be going through.”
Scroll down to watch a video about how mindfulness is helping cancer patients.
Mary Lou Higgs, a brain cancer survivor, says that the mindfulness class helped her to reduce her fear when getting scans. Mindfulness has also helped her to sleep better and she says that it’s easier to stay positive. “Life just got better.”
Jeffrey Kingsley, a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, enrolled in the class as well after his body physically began to get weak from treatments. He recalls not even being able to carry his young son up a flight of stairs. But through the class, he learned what his body was going through, and that it’s OK to have those feelings of frustration. He can tell him self now, “No need to push through this. If you can make it up with a two-minute breather, that’s OK.”
Mary Levasseur, the Manager of Community Health and Wellness at Lancaster General Health says that mind-body classes like this one are a crucial part of cancer care. She says that cancer patients will oftentimes talk about how out of control their cancer treatments make them feel. And, a class like this can help build resiliency during the journey and help them lead a calmer life.
Click here to watch a story about how mindfulness helped a breast cancer doctor on her own journey with the disease.