Guided Meditation for Cancer Patients
Mind-body tools like guided imagery, guided meditation and hypnosis for cancer have been used for decades by oncology patients seeking help for pain, fatigue, anxiety and treatment-related nausea, but it’s only recently that research has demonstrated the full range of what these techniques can do.
Not only do these methods help enormously with the side effects, fears and discomforts surrounding cancer treatment that involves chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplantation, biopsies, medical procedures and surgery, but we’ve learned it can actually boost the body’s natural cancer-fighting abilities, heightening the activity of NK cells, T-cells and other immune mechanisms.
Similarly, yoga, biofeedback, affirmations and mindfulness meditation have also been found effective in helping cancer patients manage distress and support their bodies’ built-in, self-healing abilities. When necessary, these gentle but powerful CDs and downloads can also help with grief and dying.
Health Journeys is proud of its carefully selected collection of resources that feature the very best in guided meditation for cancer, including a marvelous selection of guided imagery and hypnosis for cancer in kids and teens.
Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery and meditation for cancer , chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, transplantation therapy, treatment-related fatigue and healthy immune functioning are longtime favorites, distributed in the hundreds of thousands to hospitals and treatment centers nationwide. Her hospice imagery is used on palliative care units and by hospice care workers around the English speaking world.
Emmett Miller’s powerful hypnosis for cancer treatment eases the process of radiation therapy and chemotherapy with singular mastery and skill; and Carolyn Daitch, another impeccable expert in meditation and hypnosis for cancer , is a very popular practitioner for those undergoing chemotherapy.
For psychologically sophisticated, artfully produced, Christian-friendly guided meditation for cancer, the work of Rev. Donna Shenk and Dr. Robert Miller cannot be beat. For those with limited energy and/or treatment related fatigue, Carol Dickman’s Bed-Top Yoga and Seated Yoga are made to order.
And for a video combination of beautiful nature scenes, accompanied by positive affirmations, we have the ground-breaking work of guided imagery pioneers Bernie Siegel and O. Carl Simonton.
For those who would like them, here are some tips for dealing with cancer.
- Don’t listen to people who tell you that you must be positive at all times in order to beat your cancer. First of all, it’s not true. Second of all, it’s harder on your body to fake positivity rather than just own what you feel and let it pass on through. Authentic will always trump phony, and a little discouragement, fear and sadness will NOT kill you.
- You’ll want to take at face value everything your docs are telling you, because you’re so vulnerable, but please double- and triple-check the information you’re getting. Get second and sometimes even third opinions. Don’t be bamboozled by a healthcare institution that thinks it’s the best in town. Sometimes it’s not. And sometimes the survival rates are best for the patient who’s a pain in the neck.
- Use whatever contacts you have to get the most up-to-date information possible. The landscape of cancer treatment is radically changing by the minute. There are now many new, multi-targeted oncology treatments that, when used in combination, are beating the odds, and a lot of well-meaning providers know ZIP about them. This means you have to be proactive at a time when you feel like collapsing. Get cracking; don’t collapse. There are trained cancer guides like the brilliant and dedicated Henry Dreher who can research state of the art treatments and pre-indicated protocols for your particular cancer; and places like the Block Center in Skokie IL that will assess and provide invaluable recommend individualized suggestions on nutrition, supplemental support for chemo and off-label drugs if nothing else is working.
- Think outside the cancer treatment box, especially if you know standard oncology protocols have limited success rates. You can tell your oncologist that you’ve read the stats and you want more than just standard care. If that’s not an option at his or her institution, ask if he or she will serve as local backup while you go elsewhere for more cutting edge care. Be really clear with friends and family about what you need from them and what you don’t need from them. Again, it’s not fair that you have to do this at a time when you have no energy for setting limits, but the price of NOT doing it is too high. If you want visits and calls and cards, tell them. If visits, cards and calls feel like an assault, tell them that. If they insist, tell them “It’s out of the question”. And let your saner family members and good friends quarterback for you. There’s no better resource, they’ll feel good about contributing, and it will deepen and enrich your relationship.
- Also, be smart about asking people to do what they’re good at. Some friends are great listeners. Others are terrible listeners but great cooks. Still others have a talent for efficient errand running, or internet database searching on your kind of cancer. They’ll be happy to have an assignment they can actually perform well for you, and you’ll be glad for their excellent help.
- When people start giving you unwanted advice, or sharing their own cancer story with the hideous outcome, or guilt-tripping you about how you’re not meeting their needs, whatever those might be, be ready with a firm, fast response: “That is not helpful” works well, as does “I don’t need to hear that right now” or We need to change the subject”… and, always, my favorite, all-purpose standby, “That is out of the question”. Again, you’re not going to be in the mood to be this assertive, but fake it. It’s necessary protection from well-meaning but clueless people.
- Ask for prayers. Prayers are the best. They are felt by the giver and the receiver alike, they help remediate feelings of helplessness, and sometimes they just might perform miracles. Or, put another way, no one’s ever proven definitively that they don’t.
- As for resources, guided imagery is frequently used by cancer patients – and for good reason -for mobilizing mind, body and spirit to cohere around fighting the cancer; and it helps with various oncology-related procedures and regimens too. So does mindfulness meditation, yoga, massage, biofeedback and hypnosis.