- Question from Carish: Should exercise and a healthy diet be combined with a positive mind frame in help with combating stress?
- Answers - Mitch Golant At some point it becomes a little chicken and egg. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out or fatigued, you are actually maybe experiencing some depression. If that is the case, it makes it more difficult to follow a regimen of exercise and diet. Although exercise and diet are important, far more important is your belief that those are important to you.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Are you saying that basically if doing it is important to you and you get the energy together to accomplish it, and you can do it on a regular basis, then it really reinforces your sense of control over your life? (Plus all of the good things that come with exercise.) Can you explain how exercise makes you feel better and what it does to your immune system?
One of the things that happens so often in women with breast cancer is that they have an enormous amount of expectations on themselves during treatment, so they make judgments about themselves, about their diets, etc. There is no right or wrong about this. You have to decide for yourself - based upon treatments that you are receiving, your energy level, what other efforts you are making in your work and personal life - whether you believe it is helpful to you. If it is, then we can get into how valuable exercise is.
There are so many things that you can do. Exercise is one of them. A fabulous program at the Wellness Community is called Back To Wellness, in which we combine a support group with a program of exercise (body movement, rubber band, and other forms of exercises) because of the well-being associated with it. Lymphedema is reduced or improved as a result of being able to do some exercises.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. You make an excellent point that often times we may create some of our own stresses by having too many expectations or too big expectations on what we can or cannot do. After finishing up with treatment for breast cancer, few women take the time they need to heal. They may end up managing many people's expectations that they will return to normal quickly. What I find most often is that the woman's own expectations tend to be the most stressful.
- Mitch Golant And at times overwhelming.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Exactly.
- Mitch Golant I think this is a good point to bring in one of the unique aspects of the Wellness Community, which is the patient's active concepts. At the heart of the patient's active concept is that if you participate along with your health care team in your recovery, you not only improve the quality of life but may enhance the process of recovery. There are options and attitudes that you believe are important to you. And no one else can decide what those are but you. What support provides is a vehicle of information exchange to help clarify what is important to you and thereby reducing the stress of the disease or illness.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
I could not agree more with this progressive and sensitive approach. In creating all of the original content and program for www.breastcancer.org we have been fierce advocates for the individual. We try all the time to make sure to respect a particular person's own way of doing things and helping people not judge themselves or each other in the way that they make their path through this tough time.
Editor's Note: The Wellness Community is now known as The Cancer Support Community.
On Wednesday, September 19, 2001, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Stress and Your Immune System. Mitch Golant, Ph.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions on how stress affects your treatment, and what you can do to boost your immune system.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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