Dealing with cancer is difficult both physically and emotionally, especially when the treatments start, but some cancer patients are now using a new tool to help them get through it.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be frightening.
“Having a diagnosis of any kind of cancer, I imagine, is devastating, and your mind races,” breast cancer patient Althea Queen, of Natrona Heights, said. “When it came for chemotherapy, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that.”
Counseling is often offered to help with stress and anxiety. But, Althea wanted to try something different.
“And I said, I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t find a hypnotist to help me with what my mind was going through,” she said.
“Feeling anxious and worried can lead to fatigue,” Dr. Guy Montgomery, with Mt. Sinai Medical Center, said. “That’s one of the steps we’re working with patients to be more in control of those kinds of emotions.”
A researcher at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York did a study of 200 patients getting radiation treatments. Half got meditation, half got CBT and hypnosis.
Fatigue was checked at specific points before and after treatment up to six months out. Those who got CBT and hypnosis had comparatively less fatigue up to four weeks after treatment.
Here in Pittsburgh, Bonnie Shields is a social worker who offers hypnosis to help cancer patients. She demonstrated on a colleague.
She believes it helps people reduce anxiety, stabilize mood and make decisions.
“I may count to three. My voice will get louder, and then they’ll hear me in a different way than when they were in a trance,” she said.
“Hypnosis is not something that’s a Vegas act or mind control,” Shields said. “We cannot undergo hypnosis and achieve a trance unless we’re willing to do that.”
Althea’s experience with CBT and hypnosis was positive.
“This is a life-changing thing, and it will never really be over. It’s giving me a tool to cope with the changes it brings.”
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.