October 30, 2013 9:44 pm

Research finds yoga, meditation can help women after cancer

CALGARY – Susan Ockey has been practicing yoga for nearly 5 years. She started her practice after her cancer treatment finished.

“I just got through everything and then about a year later went, ‘oh my goodness… what happened? I had cancer.”

According to clinical psychological, Dr. Linda Carlson, many cancer survivors experience stress and anxiety long after therapy ends.

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“It’s a huge problem for many cancer patients. They’re dealing with uncertainty, fears of recurrence, lingering side effects, pain, swelling in the arm, sleep difficulties… and fatigue is a big problem as well.”

Carlson is the co-author of new research that has found yoga and meditation can be more effective than group therapy in helping breast cancer survivors cope with the stress and anxiety that follow treatment.

The study, the largest trial of its kind , followed 271 breast cancer survivors in Alberta and BC.

“This was the first study to compare the mindfulness group with another active treatment and we actually found it was better for producing a number of different outcomes and helping with symptoms.”

Ockey was one of the study’s early participants. Several years later, meditation and yoga has become a regular part of her routine.

“I learned so many tools about how to deal with stress and how to notice the trigger points in when you are getting stress so you recognize before you’re wound up like a rubber band.”

The study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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