Rhode Island Monthly Breast Cancer Awareness : Page 4
SPECI A L A D V E RTISIN G SEC T I O N cancer patient. These treatments include Reiki, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, reflexology and hypnotherapy. These ancient therapies are not hocus pocus carnival magic, but scientifi-cally proven methods to help improve the qual-ity of life for people undergoing chemo. Integrative therapies can improve depres-sion and feelings of anxiety. They can also al-leviate fatigue, reduce constipation, and lessen nausea and vomiting. They can even reduce the number and severity of hot flashes women en-counter while in treatment. Other holistic therapies that have proven to help people going through treatments are not quite as old as the ones previously mentioned, but they have shown signs that they improve the quality of life for people going through treatment. Music therapy, expressive art, ther-apeutic writing and even pet therapy (known as cognitive distraction) have all helped improve the well-being of the cancer patient. Battling cancer can be a stressful, anxiety-ridden time complicated by months of debili-tating side effects caused by chemotherapy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Integrative therapies have been proven to increase the emotional well-being of cancer patients, as well as diminish the side effects of cancer treat-ments. Feeling emotionally strong can help a person’s physical well-being, and encourage that person to improve her eating habits and physical activity. Fat Can Be Good Although it’s not fair, there are several instanc-es throughout a woman’s life when she is more likely to gain weight, such as puberty, fresh-man year of college, pregnancy and meno-pause. Depressing as this news is, it gets even worse — a woman is likely to gain an average of 15 pounds during cancer treatments. It’s bad enough that a woman going through chemotherapy will lose her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, not to mention, develop an ashen-gray complexion, but to be subjected to weight gain is absolutely unfair. To add insult to inju-ry, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) lists obe-sity as a risk for recurrence of breast cancer. Mary Flynn, PhD, RD, LDN a research dietician at The Miriam Hospital and an assistant pro-fessor of medicine at Brown University, says there are many reasons why women gain weight during cancer treatments, but some reasons could be that women are less active and are not eating as healthily. Despite this dismal aspect, there is good news. Dr. Flynn conducted a pilot study that 124 RHODE ISLAND MONTHLY l OCTOBER 2010 What Now? A fi rst-person account of surviving breast cancer. chemotherapy was completed, the last radiation treatment was fi nished and we were ready to celebrate. Twenty family members and friends accompanied my husband and me to our favorite Chinese restaurant, and we enjoyed a wonderful night of food, exotic drinks adorned with little umbrellas, and laughter — lots and lots of laughter. I was done with cancer. I was ready to move on with my life, and that’s exactly what I did. Fast forward fi ve years and 29 days: A phone call from my surgeon let me know the cells she extracted from a suspected benign fi broadenoma are malignant. I was not happy about doing this cancer thing again, but I believed it will be relatively easy like the fi rst time — it wasn’t. Everything was different the second time around — my job, my house, my responsibilities, the cancer and the treatments, but I managed to get through it all. When I fi nished my last radiation treatment that followed chemotherapy and bilateral mastectomies, my husband and I returned to the same Chinese restaurant with a large group of friends and family to celebrate. It was enjoyable, but I couldn’t capture the exhilaration I had the fi rst time around. I wanted to move forward from this cancer, but I had constant physical and emotional reminders that made it impossible. The chemo had discolored my fi ngernails and toenails, my “C” cup chest was flattened with a fresh scar running across it, my hair had just started to grow back, and I knew I would be returning to work soon, and to an uncompassionate boss who advised me to “just let it go” while I was in the throws of battling cancer. I did want to let it go, but I couldn’t. My family and friends who were so supportive during the cancer ordeal were ready to move on and put it behind them, and they expected me to do the same thing. The anxiety and fear I felt was compounded by guilt for thinking about cancer so much. I kept my feelings to myself, and only occasionally confi ded in a couple of select girlfriends or my sister. The two years of reconstructive surgeries I endured aided in my inability to move forward. But, as time passed, I found myself thinking about cancer less and less. I stopped worrying about whether or not the treatments destroyed all the cancer, and eventually the only reminders of my cancer ordeal were follow-up appointments with my doctors. For many women, fear, sadness, anxiety and even depression can ensue after cancer treatments, and these feelings are perfectly normal. TWO-TIME BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR and author of the book, After Breast Cancer, Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW said, “Over time it gets better — there are no shortcuts.” Her book is validation for every survivor who has ever experienced the emotional rollercoaster after cancer. She also suggests that finding support is very important. “Nobody gets it like someone who’s been through it,” she said. The truth is a cancer patient’s life is forever altered. For many of us, our lives are better than before cancer. We have a greater appreciation for each day and what it will bring. That does not mean we have been converted into eternal optimists incapable of having a bad day. Cancer survivors have bad days and we get angry, but we are more apt to pick our issues and focus on what’s important and let the rest go. Schnipper said, “We pay attention in a different way.” Hester Hill Schnipper will be the keynote speaker, on October 8th at the Passport to Survivorship luncheon, hosted by the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. For more information, please call 401-861-HERO. — Carol Ann Donnelly was published in the Journal of Women’s Health, comparing a plant based olive oil-en-riched (PBOO) diet with the NCI’s standard low-fat diet in breast cancer survivors, and found that the study participants who followed the PBOO diet had greater weight loss than the NCI low-fat diet. In addition, the PBOO participants had better cholesterol levels than the NCI low-fat participants, with lower trigly-cerides and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) — the good cholesterol we all strive to achieve. Extra virgin olive oil has been linked to reducing the risk of breast can-cer in Italy, Spain and Greece; all countries where olive oil is a standard ingredient in their cuisines. Out of the 28 participants who successfully completed the eight-week study, 80-percent of the women on the PBOO regimen lost five percent or more of their baseline weight, com-pared to only 31-percent who were on the NCI’s low-fat diet.