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Archive for the ‘Cancer Research’ Category

Mind Healing?

The Healing Journey Program was presented at the NCCSHG conference by its creator Alastair Cunningham and Petra Griffiths, who heads the program in the UK.

The Healing Journey is based on the premise that healing can take place from outside (conventional medicine and most complementary and alternative practices) and from inside (psychological and spiritual change and self-healing). Both of these are valid and may well be necessary, but they can also work in harmony. Evidence also shows that quality of life improves when people work on that inner healing. This is taking an active approach to a cancer diagnosis in yourself or another – rather than the passive approach of leaving it all up to the doctors.

The Healing Journey Program itself has been used extensively in Canada for over 25 years, and refined using research and feedback into a 5-level program where participants progress to the level they wish, with each level going deeper into the mind and spiritual aspects of being. The program is open to those who have or had cancer, and their friends and family.

A UK edition of The Healing Journey: Overcoming the Crisis of Cancer book is now available, and I will be reading this and reviewing it in due course. As a healing journey is appropriate for everyone, not just those who are ill, I’ve also decided to work through the programme myself and report back here how I get along. (I am always very conscious that dealing with, thinking and writing about cancer on a day-to-day basis takes some managing on an emotional level so I definitely have something to gain) Both the Healing Journey UK and original Healing Journey websites have access to workbooks and audios to make that possible. What would make things even better would be to have someone to share the journey with, so if anyone would like to join me in self-study and keep in touch by email as to how we are doing, then please do get in touch.

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More than three-quarters (76%) of people looking after an ill, frail or disabled loved one do not have a life outside of their caring role, according to new research issued to launch Carers Week.

The results show that huge numbers of carers are left isolated and lonely, missing out on opportunities that the rest of the population takes for granted. 80% have been forced to give up leisure activities or from going out socially since becoming a carer.

The majority of those surveyed can no longer rely on relatives for support either, as these relationships have suffered as a result of caring – 75% say they have lost touch with family and friends.

One of the carers who took part in the survey was Theresa from Glasgow. She cares for 3 people – her 2 sons, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, and her registered blind mother. Balancing full-time work with caring has meant sacrificing her life as she once knew it. Theresa says:

“A life of my own is a daydream. Caring demands are relentless, and costs you your health, relationships and happiness. To have a life of my own, for just one day would be marvellous.”

Carers say they simply exist, are marginalised and invisible. Unable to socialise, to have romantic relationships, or even to consider having children, the impact on carers is emotional, mental, physical, and fiscal. 4 out of every 5 carers say they’re worse off financially, while more than half (54%) say they’ve had to give up work.

Despite saving the UK economy £87 billion annually by relieving pressure on health and social services, carers are not being supported in the vital role they play for both their communities and society at large. Almost all carers questioned agreed a life of their own would be achievable if they received breaks, a decent income and were given support in times of crisis.

Carers need and deserve change. Better access to advice and information, improved funding for breaks, and support and flexibility for carers at the workplace are all needed urgently. Only then will carers get a real chance at a life of their own, and the opportunity to do some of the things that the rest of us take for granted.

3,282 carers took part in the survey, both online and by post, which was carried out by Carers Week between 18 February – 7 April 2010. 65% of those surveyed were heavy-end carers, responsible for 50+ hours of care each week.

If you are a carer, is this also your experience? The interview I posted yesterday suggested that there is help available to allow you some time off. My own feeling is that it may be there but the very nature of caring makes it difficult if not impossible for carers to access until they reach the point of burnout. They simply don’t have the energy to go looking for the help. What help have you found in your area, and how well signposted was it? Was it the kind of help that you needed?

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It sometimes seems that cancer treatments are very harsh, and cause ongoing health problems (see my last post), so could there really be help for cancer from the humble pomegranate?

New research published this month has shown that compounds found in pomegranates act to slow tumour growth in breast cancers which are hormone dependant. This is research done in a laboratory (published by the American Association for Cancer Research), but the implication is that this could translate into a real help in people with the disease – or even help with prevention.

If you take this research and put it together with previous studies, which showed that drinking pomegranate juice slowed the progression of prostate cancer (another hormone dependant cancer) it does look as though this could really help some people. (Reported in 2006)

What are your thoughts?

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@stopcancer on Twitter brought this article on the Telegraph website to my attention . It’s entitled ‘Marriage breakdown affects cancer survival chances’, and quotes research which shows that those going through a separation at the time of diagnosis have the lowest chance of survival over 5 or 10 years.
But that’s not what I find most interesting (although I like the fact that it is being recognised that those people may need extra support). What I love is the fact that people who are married have better survival rates. Better than all the other groups – widowed, divorced or those who have never been married. What does that mean? It means that if you are a spouse of someone who has cancer you’re making a difference. Why does marriage help? Your support and their relationship with you helps them.
So as a partner to someone who has cancer, remember that you’re making a difference. If you are not a partner, you can still make a difference by building a deeper relationship with that person. What are the features of a marriage relationship that you could offer from another connection? I believe one of the strongest factors is trust. In a successful marriage you trust the other person absolutely, and know they will always support you. To offer this level of support to a friend or other family member maybe you could let them know they can tell you anything and you will be there for them.
There is a level of extra responsibility for you, though. By providing that support, you will be calling more on your own resources. Perhaps future research will determine the effect on your health of being married to someone who has cancer. By making your health a priority too you can lessen the impact. So make sure you look after yourself too.

With best wishes,
Anne x

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