- Question from CSD: Are there alternative therapies to help survivors after treatment is completed? I have found it hard to focus on the "normal" issues of aging without feeling like I must have some kind of medical treatment for everything! I have been doing yoga, which helps a bit.
Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Breast cancer is a diagnosis which changes one's perspective on the world. It is very important to realize that once you have gone through an illness that requires you to face your mortality, you no longer look at life the way you did prior to breast cancer. Patients who feel as though they will return to their so-called "normal" life when their cancer therapy is completed are often at a loss to be able to regain that area that they had originally come from. That is not to say that this is a bad thing, but understand that going through the process of the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer brings about a shift in how you view the world and yourself. Breast cancer requires you to become focused in the moment. There's no going back to the past to change things that have been undone, and fear about what the future holds needs to be released.
So from my perspective, it's about resetting what the norm is in your life and creating a sense of well-being and wellness in each and every day. Aging is a wonderful process that occurs naturally, and is something that all of us hope to experience with a healthy existence. Yoga can be a wonderful way to totally bring you to a place where you become present in the moment, and the more that you can begin to live in the moment, the more you will realize what a gift the present truly is.
In terms of what one should be physically taking, it is very difficult to know. There are many herbs, supplements, vitamins, and special diets that people are told about that are being claimed to be useful for cancer treatment or cancer prevention. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of information in this area, which makes it very complicated in trying to navigate which way to turn. It is always best to try and receive the majority of the positive benefits from the supplements through eating a healthy diet. That doesn't just mean low-fat or high fiber, but it means eating a diet that is rich in varieties of vegetables, for example. Eating fresh vegetables and in general eating a balanced diet.
There is, however, a lot more information available today than even just a few years ago on many herbs and supplements. When looking for information on the Internet, it is important to try to focus on authoritative websites that are either sponsored by universities or academic medical centers or by government agencies. One such website that we feel is very useful, specifically for information on complementary and integrative medicine for cancer, is our website at www.mdanderson.org/cimer where we provide authoritative reviews on over 80 different modalities specifically relevant to cancer. There are, however, many others including Natural Medicine, Natural Standard, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.
On Wednesday, March 21, 2007, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Complementary Medicine Techniques. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about different types of complementary techniques and how they can help during and after breast cancer treatment.
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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