A Beautiful, Peaceful Mind

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As you recover from breast cancer, you may still be overwhelmed by catastrophic thoughts.

It’s not uncommon to be worried about the future even though your prognosis is excellent.

But being mindful – paying attention in the present moment to whatever you’re doing in a way that’s nonjudgmental – may be even more effective in reducing negative emotions than some traditional therapies, according to recent research.

Mindfulness is shown to reduce anxiety, depression and fear of recurrence in breast cancer survivors, according to Richard Reich, Ph.D., biostatistics core facilities manager, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Fla.

For the cancer center’s research, Reich, Cecile Lengacher, PhD., principal in the study, and a team looked at the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast cancer.

They placed more than 300 breast cancer survivors in either a mindfulness program or a group that received the usual care.

Those who learned mindfulness techniques showed extended improvement when compared with the control group in their psychological symptoms, including fear of recurrence and physical symptoms of fatigue.

Breast cancer survivors with the highest stress levels at the start experienced the greatest benefit from mindfulness.

A Canadian study compared mindfulness with well-accepted supportive group therapy in which women address their fears and offer mutual support.

For the research, about 250 distressed Stage 1-111 breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to either mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR) or supportive expressive group therapy (SET).
The women detailed their emotional state before and after the interventions and were followed-up 6 and 12 months later.

Women in both groups showed improvement, but the women in MBCR reported greater reductions in fatigue, anxiety, confusion and stress symptoms and better quality of life than those in SET and most benefits were maintained over 12 months of follow-up.

Mindfulness is beneficial because it allows people to be more awake and aware, according to Linda Carlson, corresponding author of the study, professor, Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Ca.

“It can contrast with what people are often doing–having regrets about the past, or having their minds racing off to the future and everything that could go wrong,” says Carlson, co-author of “Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery” (New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2010).

© CTW Features