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At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we understand that cancer doesn't only impact the body; it impacts the mind and spirit as well. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can have a strong emotional effect on both you and your family, which is why Southeastern Regional Medical Center (Southeastern) offers the Mind-Body Medicine Department (also known as Psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI).
“Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively affect the health of our bodies,” says Diane Schaab, MS, a mind-body therapist with Southeastern and a licensed associated professional counselor (LAPC). “Mind-body therapies provide patients and caregivers the opportunity to express and process these emotions in a variety of different ways to promote healing. As cancer patients and caregivers navigate through their journeys, they find comfort and meaning in utilizing our counseling and other supportive therapies meant to aid in stress reduction, relaxation and overall wellbeing.”
What to Expect
When you first arrive at Southeastern, you and your family members will have the option to meet with one of our mind-body therapists. Whether or not you decide to integrate mind-body medicine into your treatment plan is completely up to you.
During this initial meeting, the mind-body therapist will perform a patient-centered interview and provide you with resource materials. They will also recommend specific tools and techniques to help you deal with the physical and emotional issues that may arise during your cancer treatment.
Should you choose to continue to work with a mind-body therapist, he or she will listen to your concerns, provide guidance, and promote mental and emotional wellness in a non-judgmental environment. Your therapist will also collaborate regularly with the rest of your care team to discuss your treatment plan.
“Mind-body medicine can help patients and caregivers find strength of spirit, and can be a therapeutic avenue to enhance standard treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation,” says Elaine Smith, MS, LMFT, a mind-body therapist with Southeastern.
Incorporating mind-body medicine techniques into your cancer treatment can help to:
- Promote relaxation
- Decrease stress, anxiety and depression
- Improve mood
- Reduce treatment-related side effects (e.g., pain, nausea, muscle tension)
- Provide a sense of control and empowerment
- Boost the immune system
- Improve coping skills
- Increase feelings of peace and calm
Mind-Body Medicine Therapies
Cancer treatment can be physically demanding and can sometimes cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle tension and lost sleep. Mind-body techniques, like guided imagery and relaxation, may help reduce some of these symptoms.
Individual, couples and family supportive counseling is provided by an experienced staff of licensed mental health professionals who assist patients and caregivers to better cope with the physical and emotional aspects of their illness, prepare them to undergo various treatments (e.g., chemotherapy, surgery, radiation) and help them manage the effects of their treatment. You may also choose to participate in support groups that give patients and caregivers the opportunity to share their experiences and develop relationships with others who are going through the cancer journey.
The Mind-Body Medicine Department at Southeastern also offers educational and experiential opportunities designed to help people learn some of the most effective techniques and practices for reducing stress and achieving a sense of control. These tools and techniques are often useful in helping individuals reduce pain, anxiety, nausea and discomfort, improve the quality of their sleep and improve their overall quality of life.
Throughout your cancer treatment at Southeastern, our mind-body therapists offer you and your caregivers the following mind-body services:
- Stress Management
- Relaxation and Guided Imagery
- Laughter/Humor Therapy
- Psycho-educational and Support Groups
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Educational Resources
- Reiki Therapy
Caring for Caregivers Too
The Mind-Body Department’s main goal is to reduce stress stemming from the cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment and side effects. We also understand that caregivers experience a different type of stress when dealing with a loved one who has cancer.
At Southeastern, we openly invite caregivers to participate in mind-body therapies, because cancer affects the entire family. We want everyone to be at their very best to fight the cancer together.