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Common Ground

December 29, 2017

You may have cancer, but you’re still in the driver’s seat

(The first in a two-post series)

Within days of her breast cancer diagnosis, Elizabeth, 42, said she found herself on a speeding train, carrying her through treatment. “I felt like I didn’t have control over anything,” she recalled. “Once you’re diagnosed, it’s full steam ahead. I hardly had time to process the diagnosis and I was booked immediately for multiple tests, doctors’ appointments, then surgery. I couldn’t control my cancer, but I also felt like I had lost control of my life.”

Elizabeth’s experience of powerlessness is common among those living with cancer. She’s right. There is little you can control about cancer. You can’t...

December 21, 2017

Music therapy and a customized playlist might help patients chill during radiation therapy

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak,” penned English playwright and poet William Congreve. Could this phrase, written during the early 1700s, hold the keys to helping patients soothe the savage anxiety and stress they face during cancer treatments?

Seventy-eight patients with newly diagnosed cancer enrolled in a study examining the impact of music therapy (MT) on stress and anxiety during radiation therapy. Researchers randomly assigned 38 participants with breast cancer and 40 with head and neck cancer (39 in MT group and 39 in no MT group) either to re...

December 14, 2017

Self-hypnosis: A two-for-one deal

When it comes to psychosocial interventions for cancer patients, not all approaches are created equal. In a study comparing three different group interventions, only one resulted in decreased emotional distress and fatigue.

Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of three psychosocial group interventions to reduce sleep difficulties, fatigue and emotional distress in patients with breast cancer. A total of 123 patients participated in a cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga or self-hypnosis intervention. Results were compared to a control group who agreed not to participate in an intervention, and published in British Journal of Cancer.

Participants were as...

December 6, 2017

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Do I look like myself at all?

Managing the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment can be particularly challenging for patients who aren’t feeling well. A recent study shows a psychosocial program, “Health in the Mirror,” can help women adapt better and more quickly to issues related to changes in appearance during cancer treatment.

After an initial psychological assessment, 83 females with cancer began the three-part “Health in the Mirror” program. Group sessions included a personalized make-up session and wig tutorial, instruction on caring for skin and body during cancer treatment, various spa treatments, and finally, a group discussion focused on p...

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