Immunotheology: Imagine Two People with Cancer With Very Different Levels of Anxiety on Spokane Favs [Full Article]
by Kimberly Burnham, PhD, Brain Health Coach
Imagine for a moment, a potential client calls wanting to know if you can work with them on cancer-related issues. They want to wake up free of cancer, related stress and symptoms, with more energy and more satisfaction with their life, relationships and activities. Can you, as a Health Coach, hold the space, listen and ask questions, animating their process and recovery? Can you ask them, "What if a miracle occurred overnight and the cancer or other troubling physical ailment was gone tomorrow. When you wake up, how do you know it is gone? What do you notice? What is different in your life? Can part of the road to fulfillment lie in these and other questions?"
Recently, Mesothelioma.com posted a page on "Health Coaching" for people with mesothelioma and other cancers. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the mesothelium or tissue surrounding the lungs. There is only a limited range of medical treatment options for this cancer, which is due primarily to asbestos exposure.
Let's consider the health coaching options. There are palliative options including: helping the client and their family gain clarity around what they want, what increases their quality of life and what might provide better stress management. Health coaching takes the point of view that the client is whole and has their own best answers. On some level they each know what they need to do to achieve their goals. Faced with surviving a diagnosis while the medical system provides little hope can be daunting.
As Health Coaches, can we envelop ourselves and our clients with healthy ideas and healing morphic fields? In cancer, more than almost any other chronic degenerative disorder, attitude seems to play a crucial role. Can a dose of hope, a sense of control over the situation, more laughter and joy cure cancer? People with cancer have gone into spontaneous remission. Can this happen for the person with a diagnosis of mesothelioma? Perhaps.
While we can't judge or predict outcomes, we can see the impact of coaching, mindfulness, and visualization on the individuals we have contact with. We can be surprised. We can paraphrase the late author Laura Whitworth as in Co-Active Coaching and say to the client, "The answers might be part of your conscious awareness. You may turn to a health coach to help you stick to your plans to eat well, exercise, meditate, relax, wake up happy or laugh more. The solutions might be deep within your subconscious as you turn to your health coach to ponder the questions. Consider new perspectives and allow the information on how you can improve your life to percolate up to the surface.
"The answers come from you, the client, from your inner wisdom, the power of your mind and subconscious. You may never have sought these answers before the coach asks the questions. Questions create channels for self-discovery and the answers are already there. And, with each answer, comes healing, energy, love and laughter, enough to change your life."
More and more people with cancers, including mesothelioma, are giving health coaching a chance to create more joy and satisfaction in their lives, provide pain and stress relief, enable choices that hasten recovery after surgery, and reduce the side effects of certain medications, including chemotherapy.
As a Health Coach, are you up to the challenge of holding space while a person diagnosed with cancer creates a different reality for themselves?
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This months issues of The Burnham Review focus on decreasing signs and symptoms associated with Breast Cancer and with Low Back pain. There is also support for the idea that manual therapy approaches can improve tissue health and contribute to recovery and quality of life.
The use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by patients with breast cancer and survivors is on the rise. A recent study of 115 breast cancer survivors at least 1 year beyond active medical treatment found that 69% of participants reported use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). "Of CAM users, 73% reported initiating or changing CAM activity specifically because of their cancer diagnosis. Patients engaging in CAM for cancer-related reasons were younger and had been diagnosed with cancer at a younger age."
Manual Therapies are being used to decrease nausea and fatigue as well as support the immune system in people with cancer.
There were two particularly encouraging articles:
1.Hernandez-Reif, M., G. Ironson, et al. (2004). "Breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy." J Psychosom Res 57(1): 45-52. [Abstract]
2. Potter, B. (2000). "Shrinkage of Ductal Carcinoma Tumor Prior to Operation." Center for Integrative Manual Therapy e-journal:
Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)
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