Improving Mind-Body Wellness When Coping with Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

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Topics include: Living Well

Andrew Schorr speaks with Rena Szabo and Dr. Sapna Patel about mind and body wellness when coping with the side effects of treatment. Rena acknowledges the communication between mind and body and believes that mentally living in the moment helps eliminate spiraling anxiety. She suggests that being mindful and healthy not only combats the cancer itself, but helps with the side effects of treatment, as well as handling overall stress. Dr. Patel discusses the physical benefits of exercise, which she believes promotes a balance of calmness and energy to support a healthy immune system.

This in-person town meeting was sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network through educational grants from Genentech and Novartis. It was produced in partnership with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Melanoma Research Alliance.

 

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.           

Andrew Schorr:

Rena, let me ask you. So the cancer diagnosis and the effects of even treatment, we talked about some of the side effects, even of the latest immunotherapy can really get you down.

You’re tired. You may have other effects as well.  You’re trudging to the clinic like a soldier.  There’s a whole routine. But yet, all any of us have on earth is time.  So how do you make the best of the time you have, even with a cancer diagnosis? How do you get to that place to say, “Look, this wasn’t a good day.” Wait, today is a good day now, the next day, and I’m going to make it special.  

Rena Szabo:        

I think we hear the statement of living in the moment and taking one moment at a time. And I don’t think we always pay attention to that.  And I think that that’s something that needs to be in the forefront on every given day. And also, for the family members because, if you start spiraling with that anxiety, that worry, and the negative thinking, it can take you years and months ahead.

And sometimes, that’s not always beneficial because we need your immune system calm. We need your body calm because the body and the mind speak to one another. We know that now.  It’s not just theory. 

Andrew Schorr:                  

I was going to ask about that.  Just so you believe there’s a mind/body connection and that patients who get to a better place, even with the same diagnosis, that they can do better?

Rena Szabo:        

Oh, absolutely. I mean, I have a distinctive respect for the body/mind connection. They work in tandem. And if one is not working right, the other one will be impacted. And sometimes, it’s not about the actual cancer, but it’s about the side effects of the treatment or of the cancer itself or the quality of life issues.  So you may not have to look at every day as winning the war, but it’s winning a battle on a given day.  And then the next day, is it going to have a different outcome?

Andrew Schorr:                  

Dr. Patel, I just want to ask you, I know there have been studies that say that even for cancer patients, and even going through treatment, exercise is a good thing.

Maybe you can’t run a marathon for sure, but what’s your view of that? Do you tell people to try to do something to stay moving where otherwise, whether for mental reasons or others; they just feel like staying in bed?

Dr. Patel:

So you do have the patients who are like T.J., they come from a physical background, marathon runners and so forth.  And they ask can I still do that? The truth is we tell them to listen to their body. Your body will signal to you if it’s in the shape to do 2 miles today, 5 miles today, whatever it is.

And then you have the patients who don’t come from a place of exercise, and they ask should they initiate an exercise program.  It’s really the same response. Initiate walking, and just listen to your body.  If tonight, your body says it’s 10 minutes and that’s it, listen to it. But just recognize that those maneuvers, they do have a healing affect to your immune system, your mind, all this idea of calmness and energy.  That’s important. And so, physical activity doesn’t have to be endurance activity. It just has to be enough that your body can handle.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on July 17, 2017