Let’s talk about integration!
First, the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation (ACEF) will do the research. Whether it is original research (Werner is currently involved in two research projects) or database research to educate the public about the potential benefits, as well as the limitations of mind-body modalities in cancer survivorship. The evidence-based approach will help us improve the quality of life and relationships of cancer survivors.
Example: Integrating Mind-Body Medicine into the Cancer Survivorship Experience
The “Art of Self-Care” menu on our website highlights a stress management and mind-body medicine skills building program that we offer. Here is just one example how cancer survivors could benefit from such stress management and mind-body skills building program.
Appling, Scarvalone, MacDonald, McBeth, and Helzlsouer (2012) completed a study to investigate the impact of a similar, 10-week mind-body medicine intervention. Focus of their investigation was fatigue in breast cancer survivors at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The study participants were 68 breast cancer survivors who were at least six months post chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
The research team used a pre-test/post-test study design to evaluate the 10-week group-based mind-body medicine program for breast cancer survivors. The primary outcome measure of this study was a sustained change in fatigue severity as measured by the Piper Fatigue Scale (PFS), SF-36 vitality subscale and 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS). The breast cancer survivors were on average 2.6 years post-treatment, with a mean age of 56.8 years.
The results of the Appling et al. (2012) study show that the fatigue scores improved by 40%. The mean Piper Fatigue Scale score improved from 6 at baseline to 4.2 at the end of the program. The authors report that participants showed continued, further improvement at two months and six months. The results from the SF-36 and VAS also showed significant improvement in fatigue.
Appling et al. (2012) conclude their paper by writing “The sustained improvement in symptoms at six months, without additional intervention, suggests that a short-term program may lead to long-term benefit” (p. 285).
The findings of this research support the use of a mind-body skill building program to reduce persistent fatigue in breast cancer survivors. However, conducting a randomized trial will be essential to confirm the findings by Appling et al. (2012).
The mind-body skills building program just mentioned above does not only impact cancer survivors, their loved ones and caretakers. This program can also have a positive impact on health care providers.
Staples, Wilson, Pierce, and Gordon (2007) report on a program that consisted of lectures that provided information on integrating conventional and complementary therapies into individualized programs of cancer care. Small group sessions used mind-body medicine modalities to allow group members to understand the challenges faced by cancer patients.
Six months post training, participants reported a significant increase in the use and/or recommendation of mind-body medicine modalities in clinical practice and a significant increase in the personal practice of these modalities. The qualitative aspect of the research project showed that the group members reported positive changes in patient care and their clinical practices at 6-month follow-up. A little more than a third of the group members responding to the follow-up survey reported an increase in acceptance of integrative cancer therapies at their institutions. Three-quarters (77%) of participants reported making positive changes in self-care.
Staples et al. (2007) conclude that the mind-body medicine skills building training program allowed participants to enhance personal self-care, to interact more effectively with their patients, and to develop programs of integrative cancer care.
Integrating Mind-Body Medicine Into Cancer Survivorship Right Here in West Michigan
The Absenger Cancer Education Foundation (ACEF) Center in Spring Lake provides a welcoming place for cancer survivors, loved ones and caretakers (healthcare professionals are welcome also). We will educate cancer survivors and health care professionals about mind-body modalities. The experiential activities will allow participants to integrate mind-body medicine modalities safely in cancer survivorship. Ultimately this will allow cancer survivors and health care professionals to engage in self-care.
This approach allows cancer survivors to move from a passive “happening to me” modus operandi to an active participatory role. Most importantly however is the notion that this engagement in self-care will enable persons in survivorship to regain a sense of control in turbulent times, which will positively impact survivorship outcomes.
Appling, S. E., Scarvalone, S., MacDonald, R., McBeth, M., & Helzlsouer, K. J. (2012). Fatigue in breast cancer survivors: The impact of a mind-body medicine intervention. Oncology Nursing Forum, 39(3), 278–286. doi:10.1188/12.ONF.278-286
Staples, J. K., Wilson, A. T., Pierce, B., & Gordon, J. S. (2007). Effectiveness of CancerGuides(R): A Study of an integrative cancer care training program for health professionals. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 6(1), 14–24. doi:10.1177/1534735406298145
Wellthcare in Cancer Survivorship Membership
A Smart Solution for Your Cancer Survivorship Experience?