After about a year of preparation for trying to find the perfect place and then getting it ready for occupancy, we are finally able to begin operations of The Absenger Cancer Education Foundation in Spring Lake, West Michigan.
What Does this Mean for a West Michigan Cancer Survivor?
As far as we know, the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation is West Michigan’s only organization dedicated exclusively to the integration of evidence-based mind-body medicine interventions. The modalities are designed and tailored to guide and support you and your family’s cancer survivorship needs.
Current literature indicates that, as a cancer survivor, you might deal with a multitude of acute, chronic, and late effects of cancer and treatment. Cancer survivors face a host of physical, psychological, emotional, social, spiritual, and economic effects.
In this article we are elaborating on the mind-body modalities, the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation is offering. These modalities have been researched and reported about in the scientific literature. These evidence-based mind-body modalities have the potential to improve your quality of life much. There are many modalities we already offer at the center, such as meditation, music therapy, cancer support groups, yoga, and TaiChiWa Qigong. Please see the upcoming events section for the most up to date offerings. We are planning on implementing an 8-week stress management program just in time before Christmas. Our mindful eating program will be implemented the second week of January 2015.
What follows is a comprehensive list of our offerings, however, offerings and schedules might change depending on need. In order to stay up to date with the latest information, we suggest that you get our FREE weekly event updates and group schedules. The updates will include updates on our speaker series for healthcare providers. We will host guest speakers as well. The e-mail sign-up form is located at the end of each article as well as on the top right corner next to each post.
Stress Management Tailored Specifically for You: The Cancer Survivor
Good information, self-care skills, and a supportive environment can help you to meet a higher level of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. This class is designed as an 8-week mind-body skill-building series. Each class builds on the other, and once you complete all 8-classes, you are going to have an impressive set of stress management skills at your disposal. During the eight weekly sessions, you will learn how to mobilize the healing power of your mind to reduce stress, and promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being so you can get on living and thriving in cancer survivorship (Gordon & Edwards, 2005).
Individual and Group Support
Cancer survivorship support groups are an excellent way to unlock some of your mental disabilities. Support groups help you mobilize coping resources, adjust to cancer and can enhance your spiritual well-being. Cancer support groups also have the potential to significantly relieve distress and promote psychological well-being. While cancer survivor caregiver groups will help loved ones increase feelings of preparedness, competence, and reward.
Intimacy & Relationship Support
An all too often taboo subject in a cancer survivor’s journey is sexual health and wellness. We are going to address this issue with an 8-week series that combines evidence-based stress management modalities, education around themes of intimacy and sexuality, in a group setting to help couples support individual health and relationship satisfaction. Research indicates that cancer survivorship programs involving both partners may reduce negative mood and partners’ distress, increase positive sexual adjustment and coping skills, and improve partners’ supportive communication (Baker & Absenger, 2013).
We strongly urge you to set aside the last Sunday evening of every month for a special event at the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation. We invite you and your caregiver(s) for a group drumming session. Feel free to bring the entire family. These monthly events are limited to 30 participants, so please RSVP to Werner. The benefits of drumming may include natural pain control, promoting the production of your body’s painkillers, allowing for easing of pain and grief. A group drumming session may help you cut stress, tension, and anxiety, as well as help fight depression (Fancourt, Ockelford, & Belai, 2014; Moreno, 1995).
Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 depressed people over 80 years of age. Stanford researchers found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self-esteem (Hanser & Thompson, 1994). Guided imagery with theta music may offer you self-care strategies and a sense of independence. This may help ease anxiety in very stressful situations (King, 2010; Lai, Chao, Yang, & Chen, 2010).
Pediatric Oncology Music Therapy Group
Some of the reported benefits of music therapy for childhood cancer survivors are pain management and improvement of nausea, fatigue and anxiety and stress reduction. Pediatric music therapy can aid in the expression of feelings and improved quality of life. Pediatric oncology music therapy has the potential to support the person by providing non-verbal, non-threatening methods of communicating (Docherty et al., 2013; Kanitz, Camus, & Seifert, 2013; Kemper, Hamilton, McLean, & Lovato, 2008; Robb et al., 2008).
Medical Hypnosis for Cancer Pain
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health report a role of medical hypnosis as an adjunct treatment for adult and pediatric cancer survivors. Medical hypnosis can address many of the side effects associated with cancer and its treatments. Is medical hypnosis right for you? Can medical hypnosis be safely integrated into your self-care regimen? Find out by contacting us today (Kanitz et al., 2013; Lang et al., 2008; Montgomery et al., 2007; Richardson, Smith, McCall, & Pilkington, 2006).
Medical Hypnosis for Smoking Cessation
In hypnosis, client expectancy plays a significant role in treatment outcomes (Barnes et al., 2010; Carmody et al., 2008; Dickson-Spillmann, Kraemer, Rust, & Schaub, 2012). Because you consider medical hypnosis as a smoking cessation tool and that you are ready to say goodbye to your smoking behavior is very encouraging. We will use hypnosis as a tool to reinforce your intention to kick-the-habit and to change your belief system about cigarettes, quitting tobacco use and smoking behavior.
Unless you, the cancer survivor is already relatively fit, you should begin a yoga program cautiously and very slow. A class at a regular yoga studio might not be right for you because, depending on your diagnosis of cancer, you might have concerns about bone integrity, cardio/pulmonary status, and hematology. Radiation and chemotherapy could have an impact on the poses you can do. However, you need not feel left out to benefit from the positive effects yoga can offer cancer survivors and their caregivers. Before heading to your local neighborhood yoga studio, we can get you started. Karri is a licensed nurse and registered yoga teacher. Karri will work with you, one on one, or in a small group and tailor your yoga practice to your specific needs (Buffart et al., 2012; Chandwani et al., 2010; Nicole Culos-Reed, Carlson, Daroux, & Hately-Aldous, 2006; Guo, 2013).
Chakra Balancing Yoga
We are presenting this 8-week chakra balancing yoga series based on emerging research on a unified theory of the chakra system. According to Maxwell (2009) getting to the bottom of a physical effect to the subjectively experienced chakras, has disappointed because we have not had scientific evidence about a physical system that was inherently subtle. However, because of the gap junction theory of chakras and embracing findings pertaining developmental processes within the dorsal neural tube, we now have the means to investigate distinct elements of chakra theory (Maxwell, 2009).
Gap junctions are physical in nature and their functions and how they work are just beginning to be understood. It is possible that very delicate properties attributed in regulating a medium filled with flowing polar molecules could produce phenomena that, when individually experienced, have the radiant qualities attributed to chakras (Maxwell, 2009).
However, you do not have do worry about explaining the existence and/or the function of chakras. That will be one of our projects over several years. In the meantime just know that there might be a kernel of truth to “restoring the flow of energy” through yoga. The gap junction theory allows us to confirm this statement perhaps.
To restore the “flow of energy” in your chakra system, you will begin with the root chakra, your “foundation.” With each weekly session, you will move through your body’s energy centers. Your last session will end at the crown of your head. Join Karri every Saturday morning at our cancer center for a journey to unite mind, body, and spirit.
Mid-Week Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga is a gentle yoga practice that uses gravity and the support of props for relaxation. The supportive props allow you to rejuvenate and recover from stress. As you hold the poses with the aid of props, you can experience mind-full relaxation. Restorative yoga helps you to calm sympathetic nervous system arousal (the fight-or-flight response). You will be able to restore energy and revitalize your immune system. Restorative yoga lends itself quite nicely to be taken up by cancer survivors (Danhauer et al., 2009; Danhauer et al., 2008).
Mindfulness Meditation (Guided)
You will investigate and learn mindfulness as Werner guides you through mindfulness exercises giving you an experiential guided meditation experience. Discovering mindfulness through guided meditation can potentially allow you to deal successfully with pain, chronic illness, stress, and anxiety. Over time, you may experience greater self-awareness as well as greater life satisfaction (Biegler, Alejandro Chaoul, & Cohen, 2009; Deng et al., 2013; Elkins, Fisher, & Johnson, 2010; Ott, 2006).
Qigong, the coordination of gentle body movement, breathing, meditation, and visualization, when integrated with cancer care as usual or post-medical cancer care, is a safe intervention. Regular Qigong practice may improve your quality of life and help you reduce inflammation. Is Qigong for you? Find out for yourself. Set aside Sunday afternoons for this ancient movement practice for health and vitality (Byeongsang Oh, Butow, Mullan, & Clarke, 2008; Chen & Yeung, 2002; Cohen et al., 2010).
Mindfulness training involves purposeful and sustained attention to internal dialogs and bodily cues, facilitating assessment and potential re-patterning of automatic behaviors. This approach could help you change patterns of eating; you developed over years. Rather than cutting calories, mindfulness may help you reduce weight by restoring your ability to detect, and respond to, natural cues of hunger and satiety (Adams et al., 2012; Alberts, Thewissen, & Raes, 2012; Cavanagh, Vartanian, Herman, & Polivy, 2014; Kristeller, Wolever, & Sheets, 2014).
Mindful eating will be offered in a 6-week, once a week (for two hours) group format. New groups are often forming and participation is limited to 12 participants. Reserve your space early.
In the best situations, health care providers are both guides and collaborators on your cancer survivorship journey. As a guide and partner, the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation (ACEF), offers evidence-based mind-body medicine modalities. We will help you to chart a course that will allow you to navigate the often rough waters and grim landscape of your cancer survivorship journey.
The evidence-based mind-body modalities we are offering and that make up “The Art of Living in Cancer Survivorship” can jump-start your healing journey to live and thrive in survivorship.
Now it is Your Turn!
Three steps you can take right now to help us help you thrive in survivorship:
Step 1: Share With Your Family and Friends
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Step 2: Join Our “Weekly Smarts” Mailing List
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Step 3: Make the Leap to Better Health and Wellness
Are you ready to make the leap toward better health and wellness?
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