3 Steps To Develop Courage During Cancer Treatment

What is courage and how do you get courage now that you need it more than ever?

While choosing to create new COURAGEOUS plans moving forward, just remember to always look back to see where you’ve been. Remember in the Wizard of Oz that each character already had what they(he/she?) needed without realizing it? Recall how Scarecrow thinks and problem solves; the Tin-Man, an emotional connector to his core; and the Lion, leading the way to the witches’ castle. They needed the journey down the Yellow Brick Road to realize what was inside of them all along.

You have been dumped into an unfamiliar land, language you can barely interpret, and the idea of feeling optimistic or positive about seeing what you are made of is probably not on your radar. But the reality is, this cancer is here now, so you might as well learn all the things you can during your own journey down the yellow brick road.

In the Wizard of Oz, like the Lion – our representation of COURAGE – is introduced later in the movie while trying to intimidate the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. Again, Toto comes to the rescue. We watch the Lion chase after Toto until Dorothy has had enough and slaps the Lion to make him stop. You must decide to today to take control of your Lion. Taking control may take some very strong words, such as: “Stop talking about death. Stop saying this cancer is going to kill me. And for crying out loud quit wasting time on that false belief!” Others may think, “What did I do to deserve this?” This cancer is not your fault. If you want to keep up that under serving thought, just take a virtual walk through St. Jude’s hospital for children or Google children with cancer. After you have taken that virtual tour, you tell me which one of those young vulnerable children caused his/her cancer? So, why do you think you are any different than any one of those vulnerable children?

Cancer happens. Cancer happens to everyone all around the world. Statistics told us in 2011 that 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and 7.6 million die from the disease. You did not have a choice, nor did you cause your disease. Your choice now is, how do you plan to live with this cancer. And the answer so far is: ACTION, BREATH, and COURAGE. You are going to build a courageous heart and a disciplined mind. You are going to fight this with all your wisdom, strength, and courage. You are going to live your life now like you have never lived it before. When you are so tired that you can’t do anything but sit on the couch, you are going to turn off the T.V. and spend ten minutes meditating. Then you are going to read something positive. Then you are going to journal or color. Then you are going to drink some green tea or lemon water. Then you are going to take a nap. Next you are going to repeat the above until you have the strength to go for a walk for ten minutes. COURAGE is developed over a period of time. It is not a magic pill that you take and everything gets all better.

THREE STEPS TOWARD COURAGE

  1. Read someone else’s story that has been where you are. (Great book to start with –  In A Moment’s Notice:A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer)
  2. Make an appointment with a psychotherapist, health coach, or spiritual director.
  3. Watch movies where the heroine/hero win.

Photo source: Rose Medical Center

For more information and exercises for cancer patients read Breast Cancer: A-Z Mindful Practices.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

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Protein Powder Ideas For Lunch & Dinner During Cancer Treatment

Here are some protein powder ideas for lunch and dinner, following on from last week ‘s suggestions for breakfast. It doesn’t just have to be a shake or smoothie.

As I discussed in Beyond Smoothie 1 – Protein powder for breakfasts, there are times when we need to use protein powder in our diets due to difficulties with eating or getting adequate nourishment during cancer treatments. But it can get monotonous and boring to just have smoothies or shakes. And sometimes we want something warming and more comforting rather than a cold drink. But there are other ways to use the powder.

Protein benefits on blood glucose levels
Remember that adding protein to a high carbohydrate meal/food can also help with blood glucose levels. For example, with the mashed potato idea shown below, the protein powder addition may well reduce glucose levels after eating it. Similarly for baked goods. Instead of just having flour and fat – add some protein. Protein powder can really help in balancing blood sugar.

So here are some suggestions on how to use powders in other ways that can be part of lunch or dinner.

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

6 Reasons To Be Mindful And Use Your Breath During Breast Cancer

What Does Mindful Mean?

Mindful Means “being conscious or aware of something directly.” Once mindful, you then can then foster positive change through the development of a mindful practice, like yoga or breathing. Mindfulness, whereby combining the breath consciously with yoga movements brings this awareness of the mind right into the present moment. Right where it needs to be in order to move forward and heal.

Why It is so Important to be Mindful

  1. Because it stops the negative chatter of a restless and wandering mind.
  2. Stress and anxiety are some of the byproducts of this unmindfulness.
  3. We may also become careless and lack clarity in making good decisions, especially health decisions. It is right now, here where you become “present” to whatever is, or isn’t.
  4. Learning how to stay in a mindful state allows you to get past that which may cause undo stress or harm. This can be attained through the proper training of the breath, focus of the mind and movement of the body.
  5. When both the breath, mind and body come together, consciously, the ability to create relaxation and a new-found state of clarity is then realized.
  6. Here you can tackle recovery head on and with deep purpose.

How Does the Breath Make us Mindful?

“When the mind wonders; the breath is sure to follow.” It is stated in yogic practices  that when the mind jumps all over it is called “the monkey mind.” This unfocused mind can create a lot of stress and anxiety, all of which has a negative impact on the mind and body causing a profound effect on the autonomic nervous system which then increases stress hormones and overall emotional responses.

How Does it Help Breast Cancer Recovery?

The reason being mindful is so valuable is that the mind is deeply incorporated with the breath.  A mindful practice is cultivated through learning how to use the breath positively,  or in partnership with the mind.  It is an intentional act of unity, whereby unconscious thoughts and feelings of the mind are then brought to a single point of attention. This is achieved one way by focusing fully on the breath.  Through rhythmically breathing (inhale and exhale of the same duration) we tap into our deepest inner resources for healing, and for relaxation. By flowing through a series of breaths, the body experiences an inner calm which then awakens the prana (life energy) and moves the mind towards a higher level of understanding.  It is through the control of the breath, that the mind will reflect a higher knowledge and a positive state of confidence and self esteem.  It is  emotionally  challenging to learn you have cancer.  A natural response is “Can I do this? “ Let this be the yoga practice of self-understanding.

Mindful Yoga And Breathing Exercises For Breast Cancer

The deeper the commitment to a Mindful Yoga and Breathing practice, the deeper the relaxation response will manifest, healing the trauma of worry, anxiety and fear associated with the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is challenging to start a yoga practice when this the fear, stress, anxiety and depression surface. It is precisely at that time that we need support, not only from our doctors, families and friends, but most importantly from other women who have breast cancer or even another type of cancer. These personal connections help us to feel “part of” a community who understands our emotions and experiences. Unconditional love creates miracles!  Creating a strong support system and a safe place to be (oneself) are paramount to alleviating the stress that derives from breast cancer.  A clear mind, a full breath and a body in motion are paramount for recovery. YOU are responsible for your healing process and progress so breathe deeply and move freely.

 Breast Cancer Yoga has just announced their first mindful practices collaboration with Dr. Robin Dilley.

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

 

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Breast Cancer: A-Z Mindful Practices: Self Care Tools For Treatment & Recovery

The Gap: An Important Mindfulness Technique

I had the pleasure of listening to Pema Chodron (Buddhist Monk and author) and KD Lang (Musician, singer, songwriter) in a conversation this morning on Live Stream. I was struck by several things, but the one that stood out for me is the concept of the Gap. I want to share the concept of the Gap with you, the reader.

The Gap is that in between space where you come to understand the presence of NOW. It is that moment when you look up from a hiking path and notices the sky, the tree, or the bird. The Gap is a sacred space within, when you realize you are part of the outer world.

It seems to me that as people living in the world of cancer, you can use the practice of the Gap regardless of where you are on your path. For instance, fall is my favorite time of the year and I am so excited about its arrival. that I know I will have many Gap moments when I see beautiful leaves dropping the magic of their colors on the ground as they leave naked branches ready for winter. What Gap moments might you look forward to this fall? What magical part of the day will you practice breathing into the Now. The Gap is that space within you that allows you to breathe deeply from the inside out.

As people experiencing cancer life can become very ugly and painful as rancid smells and nauseating waves of emotion run askew inside of your inner darkness. It is important that you do not live in the darkness. Pema Chodron might say something like, “Don’t run from the darkness, touch it, explore it and move on past it.” The practice of the Gap is a tool to help you move past the darkness into the NOW.

Looking for something good and magical in your day will help you practice the Gap and stay in the Now. If you can’t see magic in your day then create magic in your day. If you are irritated with not getting the results you want with your health care, then focus on something else that you have control over. For instance, purchase some fall flowers. Take time to have a Gap moment with those flowers. Smell them, touch them and notice how each one is uniquely different from every other one. Have you ever noticed that no two flowers are exactly alike? Notice the nuances in the shades of the colors, notice the stems. Notice each flower as you arrange it in the vase. These flowers traveled from rich fertile soil and were “harvested” for your delight. All cut flowers will die. But each flower has its own elegance, story, and purpose in your life today. That purpose is here to bring you joy and to put a gentle smile on your face. Enjoying flowers is a Gap moment. Take a breath and look up and see your room come to life because you placed a vase of flowers on your night stand or kitchen table. You took the time to create a Gap that brings you delight.

As you learn to experience Gap moments, be the Gap in someone else’s life today. Pick up the phone and call a friend and tell them how much they mean to you. Send a card to someone who needs a connection. Smile at the clerk in the grocery store and tell them, “I hope you have a really good day,” as you look them in the eye. Be the Gap in other people’s lives daily and you will experience more Gap moments in your day-to-day life that is full of the necessary medical appointments, follow-ups and tests. I even imagine your health care team will respond to you more positively if you are practicing Gap moments in your life.

See you are not cancer. You are not your disease. You are a person with many roles and facets to your life. Don’t let cancer define you. Smile, in spite, of the cancer. Bring smiles to other people’s lives. Make a difference today and you will be happier because you did.

For more information and exercises for cancer patients read Breast Cancer: A-Z Mindful Practices.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

5 Ways To Support Our Bodies For Self Healing

Healthy self = Heal thy self | Supporting our bodies for self-healing
Our bodies are designed to heal themselves. They have many self-healing capacities, so let’s look at how we can support these to reveal our healthy self. Healthy self = Heal thy self!

Imagine cutting your finger

Here’s a scenario to consider. You are chopping some food, and you cut your finger. If you take care of it, cleaning it immediately and keeping it clean after the bleeding stops, the cut will heal itself in a few days. If it’s really bad, you might need some additional support like stitches, but it will still heal and will just take a little longer.

If you don’t support that healing, you’ll get into trouble. For example, if you rub dirt into that fresh-cut instead of cleaning it, the healing will be delayed. We need to support the body, and then its natural healing capacity can work.

But what if you cut that same finger every day? That constant damage and injury will mean that your body can’t heal itself. It will try, but that constant insult will prohibit healing.

1. Diet as a repeated injury
The same applies to chronic illnesses, rather than physical injuries. Just like the scenario of cutting your finger every day and it not being able to heal, if we “injure” our body every day by the way we eat and live, then we aren’t giving the body the support it needs to heal itself.

A diet without adequate nutrients is damaging to our whole body every day. Every day that we don’t eat well or sleep well, we are depleting our bodies. We aren’t providing an environment in which our body can heal itself.

Consider eating food that is inflammatory to you every day. It’s just like cutting your finger every day – more damage is occurring, and there is no chance for healing. And this damage relates to much more than just inflammation in our digestive system. If we aren’t getting the nutrients we need every day, this can affect all of the biochemical reactions going on in our bodies. Those nutrients – and the lack of them – affect all the systems of our bodies.

Eating a diet that is lacking nutrients is like injuring yourself every day. Instead, we need to support the body.

2. Medications as a ‘band-aid’
We might be tempted to try some medications to cover up the symptoms of an illness and make us feel better, at least temporarily, but frequently they don’t support self-healing because they have side effects too.

Let’s say that you have the symptoms of a cold – a slightly high temperature, and just not feeling great. So you reach for Tylenol or Aspirin every few hours. By reducing your temperature, the medication might make you feel better for a short while. However, the medicine has also interfered with the natural healing process, because your body was using that high temperature as a means to get rid of the virus. What might have been better would have been to relax, drink plenty of fluids, take a warm Epsom salts bath, and have an early night.

3. Active, not passive
Taking medications or over-the-counter pills requires very little effort on our part – we are quite passive – just popping our pills. But as the title of this blog post says, for a healthy self, we need to heal ourselves. That is an active process. We need to feel empowered to provide a favorable environment for the body. That means DESS – diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction, along with love, good relationships, and spirituality. When we put these things in place, then we are no longer cutting our finger every day, and the body can start to heal.

4. Inflammation is the language of discontent with our environment
We know that most chronic illnesses have inflammation at the root of them. This inflammation in our bodies – wherever it might appear – is the body trying to tell us that our environment is not conducive to self healing. It’s like a warning light coming on in our car. If that warning light comes on, we take the car to the garage to get it checked. When we have inflammation or symptoms somewhere in our body, how often do we either do nothing or just pop a pill? What we should do instead is…think that we aren’t providing what the body needs to heal. Think that there is something wrong with our environment. Think about what our body and our environment need instead of what we are providing…

Sometimes, it might be necessary to work with someone to figure this out. It might be that you need some tests to determine that, for example, you are deficient in Vitamin A, or that your hormones are out of balance. A natural health care provider (such as a nutritionist, lifestyle medicine practitioner, naturopath) might be able to help you find out what is out of balance in your environment. Is too much stress making those hormones out of balance? Is a polymorphism creating that vitamin A deficiency? They can then educate you in what seems to be going on. That knowledge can be very empowering.

5. Be empowered
When you understand the workings of the body, and what might be lacking in the body’s environment, then you can make changes and see improvement. Then you are ready to heal thy self. You take an active role and work to rebalance your hormones or eat foods containing vitamin A.

So if you are ill, take some time to look at what might be out of balance in your environment. Is something lacking, is something in excess? It could be nutrition, sleep, stress, difficult relationships – these can all prevent our body from healing itself. We need that good environment. Nurture yourself and be at least as good to your body as you are to your car when its engine light comes on! Take action. Don’t be passive. Let the body do what it is designed to do – heal itself.

Of course, I’m not suggesting we should never use pharmaceuticals. In some instances, especially acute illnesses, they are very important. Yet even if we do use pharmaceuticals, we should still check to see if they deplete the body of certain nutrients/vitamins/minerals, and continue to work to support our self-healing.

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Tests To Help With Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

When you’ve just received a diagnosis of breast cancer, you are faced with many different treatment options. Your mind is in a whirl with fear, confusion, and disbelief. While none of these feelings help decision making, there are some tests that can help: Oncotype DX and Mammaprint. 

These tests are genomic tests that analyze the activity of specific genes in the breast tumor. They can help you determine if your risk of breast cancer coming back is high or low, which can help you in making a decision about whether to have chemotherapy, radiation, or other therapies to reduce risk after surgery.

There are two main types of tests – Oncotype DX and Mammaprint.

Oncotype Dx has two tests for breast cancer – one for Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – Oncotype DX DCIS and one for invasive breast cancer – Oncotype DX.  Mammaprint has one test for invasive breast cancer. Let’s look at these in greater detail.

What are genomic tests?

Genomic tests look at specific genes in your individual tumor and try to determine what is driving its growth. This is different from genetic tests which look at your inherited risk or predisposition for cancer. Genomic tests provide information that can help tailor your treatment plan to you as an individual. They are a type of personalized medicine. This is really important, because not all breast cancers are the same and, in fact, some breast cancers might have more in common with a prostate cancer than they do with another type of breast cancer. One size treatment definitely does not fit all.

Oncotype DX DCIS

Image showing the incidence of DCIS from blog on CALMERme.comThis test is only for people diagnosed with DCIS or, as it is often called, “stage zero” breast cancer. In addition to general information such as tumor size, margins, and grade, Oncotype DX DCIS helps determine the likelihood of DCIS recurring or invasive breast cancer occurring within the next 10 years.

It examines a sample of the tumor tissue that has already been removed during the lumpectomy for DCIS. By looking at the expression of 21 different genes in the tumor, it provides a DCIS score of between 0-100. The lower the score, the lower the risk of recurrence. Two scores are given, one to determine the risk of recurrence of DCIS and another for the risk of occurrence of an invasive breast cancer.

Knowing the DCIS score can help you decide whether to have radiation treatment  following the lumpectomy. If your risk of recurrence is low, then maybe you can spare yourself further treatment and the possible side effects that go with it.

To be eligible for Oncotype DX DCIS, you need to have recently been diagnosed with DCIS and had lumpectomy surgery. The decision should be made in discussion with your doctor/oncologist.

In the US, insurance might cover the cost of this test; the testing company will help you determine if this is the case and provide information to your insurers, as necessary. In the UK, these tests can be conducted under the NHS or privately.

Many oncologists are now familiar with these tests for invasive breast cancer; sadly, the Oncotype DX DCIS test does not appear to be known by all oncologists, so it’s good for you to be proactive and start the discussion. Here is a link to the validation work done on the test that you can forward to your oncologist, and further links are given at the bottom of this post:

Clinical validation of oncotype DX DCIS

I definitely think it is worth having a discussion with your oncologist, sharing the references as necessary, and if you don’t get anywhere with the oncologist, talk to your family doctor or surgeon.

Oncotype DX and Mammaprint

Both Oncotype DX and Mammaprint are genomic tests suitable for early stage invasive breast cancer. They both predict the benefit of chemotherapy or other types of treatment, as well as the likelihood of 10 year recurrence.

They are similar tests but have some differences, as outlined below:

Comparison of oncotype DX and mammaprint for invasive breast cancer

Looking at this table can help determine if you are eligible for either of these tests.

As with Oncotype DX DCIS, some insurance companies in the US will pay for these tests whereas some don’t include them in coverage. Both testing companies offer financial assistance or guidance, so it’s worth calling them to discuss if you are interested and want to check coverage. In the UK, these tests can be conducted under the NHS or privately.

These tests are important because some of the cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, can have many side effects and are hard to get through. If there is little to no benefit in these treatments for you as an individual, then these genomic tests give you the confidence to not have a treatment that has greater potential for risk than for benefit.

Obviously the decision of further treatment is based on more than just these results. It involves detailed discussion with your oncologist, but also personal consideration of what you want and how you feel. Remember, you can take your time over treatment decisions. You might feel rushed, but take adequate time until you feel comfortable that you are making the right personal decision. These tests can go a long way in giving you confidence in your decision, but it is still a personal choice that needs to be right for you as an individual based on your mind and spirit, as well as your body.

Here are links to each of these three tests for more information

Patient information on Oncotype DX DCIS

Oncologist information on Oncotype DX DCIS

Patient information on Oncotype DX

Oncologist information on Oncotype DX

Patient information on Mammaprint

Oncologist information on Mammaprint

Let me know if you’ve had any of these tests and how they helped you.

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Spring Opportunities of Joy for Breast Cancer Survivors

Winter may have been especially long, cold and dark for many; but as winter turned a corner on March 20, 2017, spring caused a shift in sunlight, brightening the corners of darkness. As breast cancer survivors’ know, not all changes bring light into the darkness. Life feels permanently changed when those words resounded in your ears, “I am sorry you have breast cancer.” What do you know about the word, permanently? Maybe it is that all things are truly impermanent (not permanent). Like the four seasons, we realize the idea of impermanence as one season rolls into the next, ever changing. The concept of impermanence becomes a useful tool for living our lives vibrantly. Increasingly important, using ALL of our tools to keep us moving forward and staying positive. As Bell Ruth Naparstek explained in one of her affirmations in many of her healing CDs, “More and more I know I will be well, not out of the fear of death or disability. I will be well out of the joy of living.”

Spring is a time when many things begin anew again. Grass appears greener than usual, blossoms on trees dance in the sunlight and bunnies are being born. Birds even seem to border on the obnoxious side late at night and early morning hours. The birds are so happy to be alive and so happy to create what comes natural that they do not attempt to restrain their song. You too, can be like the birds. Letting the cancer be like a winter season in your life, and chose to move into spring with the light, and the birds.

It is March 20, 2017 and you are still here. What do you want to plant? What to do you want to create? All of us reading this today are still here. All of us are going to die, yes, but what are we going to do with this day to make it a song from our heart? What if we feel tired? What if we feel weak? What is it that we can do to make today a day of spring-filled blessings? The choice is ours. We are not the same person before those words, “I am sorry you have breast cancer.” We are different now. Think about when Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was hit upside the head with window, her life changed. She went on an unplanned journey that had many perils. When she returned to Kansas, no one or nothing had changed. However, Dorothy was different. She had been on the journey while everyone else stayed in their own comfort zone. Cancer changes us because it throws us out of our comfort zone and into the battle with the wicked witch of the west. We begin to see the path is up to us, not the Wizard, to survive the ordeals. We must get the witches broom. The season of spring gives us many opportunities to sweep out things not working, pack up things that are no longer useful and create new and bright happy changes in our life.

Make that affirmation, “More and more I know I will be well, not out of the fear of death or disability. I will be well out of the joy of living.” Regardless of your situation, stage, grade, or prognosis, create some joy in each day. Whether it is the ecstasy of the softness of ice cream in your mouth or a cool washcloth against your hot skin, push yourself to move toward joy just as a flower pushes out of the dormant cold frozen dirt toward the warmth and light of the newly arrived sunlight. Life is simple. It is what it is. You get to create joy and you can do that. Cancer did not steal that ability.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

Hydrogel Sheets and Cooler Rolls for Radiation Burn Care and Comfort

By Margot Malin, Founder and CEO, Lots To Live For, Inc.

There are a number of products to help heal and soothe radiation burns. Most people are acquainted with ointments, lotions and sprays. Flying under the radar are another set of items in the tool box: hydrogel sheets and cooler rolls. We will educate you about these products in this post.

Gel sheets are a handy and noninvasive product that can be used for radiation burn care. They help to soothe and calm radiation burns. Some of our customers tell us they provide incredible relief from pain and itching and that allows them to continue with daily chores and especially to sleep at night! The great thing about gel sheets is that they can be left on for long periods of time (for some people, up to 3 days though most people change them more frequently) and they provide continuous relief. They can also be used in conjunction with lotions and sprays.

Two different types of hydrogel products are CoolMagic Gel Sheets and Lindiskin Cooler Rolls.

CoolMagic Hydrogel Sheets come in 2 sizes: 3.75 inches x 3.75 inches OR 6 inches x 8 inches (10 per box) and they can be trimmed to the appropriate size.

  • This light-weight, see-through polymer sheet provides instant cooling to burns, abrasions, skin tears, radiation reactions and sensitive wounds, effectively reducing pain.
  • The sterile hydrogel polymer sheet consists of 90% water, 10% inactive crosslinked polyethylene oxide matrix, and it transfers heat away from the wound, providing a cooling effect.
  • Cooling action relieves pain of burning, itching, or sore skin
  • Can be refrigerated for greater cooling capacity
  • Allows oxygen flow while preventing bacteria or foreign material from entering wound.

CoolMagic is mentioned enthusiastically in several cancer blogs by cancer patients who have used these dressings and received relief. (ie. cancercompass.com)

Suggestions for use of CoolMagic gel sheets:

  1. Apply over wound for a cool, soothing effect.
  2. Change the dressing every 24 to 36 hours. They should be discarded after use.
  3. Hold in place with tape or stretch gauze (you may or may not need tape or gauze).

CoolMagic gel sheets receive rave customer reviews. Here are 2 sample reviews from customers:
perfect wound dressing for radiation burns 5 Star Review (2/2015)

“I only wish we had found this website and this product earlier in my father’s skin cancer journey. The large burned area was very difficult to protect and even soft cotton handkerchiefs stuck to the wound or creams. The 6×8 hydrogel dressing is easy to apply and comes away easily without sticking to the wound. Dad finds relief the minute this dressing is applied. I wish I had known about this when treating pressure sores some months ago. This will be a vital part of my first aid kit from now on.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product, expensive, but well worth it. (8/2016)

“Recovering from radiation burns I was so fortunate to have found these pads available online.”

DO NOT USE CoolMagic FOR: Full Thickness Wounds, Infected Wounds or 3rd Degree Burns.

Another option is the LindiSkin Cooler Roll, which are more economical.

LindiSkin Coolers provide intense relief to areas that are burned or dehydrated. They are designed to soothe compromised skin with the natural cooling and moisturizing effects of water and aloe vera in gentle non-adhesive dressings designed to be applied after radiation therapy.

Skin Coolers are especially effective on hyper-sensitive, compromised skin. They can be used on radiation dermatitis, sunburn, “hot flashes”, or itchy, dry skin. During radiation therapy, skin should always be washed and free of any product. Skin Coolers should be used after each treatment.

To relieve areas that are burned or dehydrated, look to the immediate cooling comfort and intense hydration of the LindiSkin Cooler Roll. The natural properties of water and aloe vera combine to help soothe any compromised area and promote a moist, healing environment for healthy skin. Leave on area for 20-45 minutes. LindiSkin Cooler Roll is designed to be custom cut for your needs and conform to the size and shape of the wound. Simply cut, apply to skin and then discard after one-time use.

The size of the LindiSkin Cooler Roll is – 1 roll (4 in x 60 in)

Both products can be refrigerated before use, but they don’t have to be. They will naturally adhere to the skin, and peel off easily when you want to remove them. Neither product is suggested for use on broken skin.

Additional creams. lotions and sprays which are very popular and can be used in conjunction with gel sheets include: RADX Radiation Therapy Cream (contains 2% lidocaine for pain relief), MPM Regenecare Gel or Spray (also contains lidocaine), CV Skinlabs Rescue & Relief Spray (no lidocaine) or My Girls Cream (no lidocaine).

Lots To Live For, Inc. was created with the belief that everyone should be as comfortable as possible during cancer treatment. We offer you the tools to provide relief and enhance your comfort. “Patients are naturally more satisfied when they are empowered through knowledge,” says Rodney Ganey. We hope the information about, and the knowledge and use of these products during treatment will help to satisfy and empower you during your treatment.

There is so Much to Recovery

breast-cancer-recoveryAs I am sitting by the fireplace in the midst of the Catskill region and reflecting on what to write for this breast cancer blog, I am reminded of my yogic learning. In yoga we try not to think that which we do not want. This is a blog for any recovery.

Recovery requires us look at more than the physical body
If I only focus on the disease, then my recovery is limited. Recovery requires us look at more than the physical body. Recovery cannot occur unless we are willing to look at the complexity of our being. We need to heal our physical body but that also includes our emotional, mental and spiritual being. Doctors and treatments do not heal us; they facilitate our process of healing. They are very necessary. They give us the strength and physical ability to enable the healing that comes from within us.

Our body when balanced has the power to heal
Working in hospitals as a student, I could not understand when doctors would say; “I can not do anything for this patient, she does not have the will to live.” We as patients must become partners with the doctors in the healing process. Our body when balanced has the power to heal according to yoga. Therefore yogis do exercises and breath work to enable the body to balance.

When the body has dis-ease, it is out of balance. With the wonderful work of science, doctors now have the ability to attack most dis-eases, and to give us the strength to begin the healing process. These blogs are here to assist us in this healing process.

The word yoga means to “yoke our individual self with the universal self.” We believe that eventually all of us will join our creator. To do so, we need to purify this physical, mental and emotional body. Our soul is universal, we are universal, but having a human experience. It is everyone’s destiny to return to the source. It matters not what you call the source, God, Allah, Krishna, there is only ONE but we all take different paths. When we are on the path towards our goals, we feel more balanced.

Our spiritual body is also required in the healing process
All beings on this planet rely on life force. This life force we call praana, others may call it chi or adamantine particles. Praana is the essence of life. It is the essence of creation coming from the Heart Core of our Supreme Creator. Therefore, our spiritual body is also required in the healing process.

How much praana we are able to absorb is dependent on our physical, mental and emotional vessel? I like to compare it with the electricity in our homes. It is always there to give us 120 volt. The refrigerator takes all of the voltage; whereas the transistor radio can only take 12 volts. Similarly our body utilizes praana according to the state of our being. The goal is to be able to absorb more and more praana. More life force in the physical body will affect the mental and emotional body. Similarly the emotional body affects the physical. When we are happy or in love, we have an abundant amount of energy. When we are sad and depressed our energy is low. When our mind creates tension, the flow of praana is obstructed within the physical vessel. So we must constantly try to increase the praana within us, through any method available, either physical, mental or emotional.

For any healing to occur we need to increase our intake of praana
Praana is life force that will aid all healing processes. The easiest way to increase praana is through the breath. Yoga states that by the regular practice of praanayaam or breathing exercises we can maintain a higher standard of health, vigor and vitality. For any healing to occur we need to increase our intake of praana.

For this blog post I would like YOU to start taking long deep breaths
Let the exhalation be as long as the inhalation, break the breath between both for a short while. We call this rhythmical breathing. This can be done at any time of the day, and as many times as possible. Practice daily, and slowly the body will get accustomed to taking in more oxygen.

When life becomes overwhelming and tense, take a deep breath and allow the exhalation to be twice as long as the inhalation, and the body will quiet down immediately. Put this tool in the back pocket and draw it out whenever necessary. Life gives us much tension.

With Love and Respect
Ma Mokshapriya

MokshaPriya Breast Cancer Authority Blog ContributorMokshapriya is ordained as Swami Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Saraswati and has taught yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 40 years. She currently teaches and gives guidance in Queens NY at the Yogashakti Yoga Center. She is the co-founder of the Yoga Teachers Training Institute and has trained over 250 yoga teachers in Long Island and New York. Mokshapriya has a Ph.D.in Education by researching and writing a “Comprehensive Eclectic Yoga Program: A Strategy for Self-Improvement” Curriculum for College. She is very direct, but approachable. You may contact her at info@teachyoga.org or www.teachyoga.org.

Learn How Breast Cancer Patients Benefit From Forest Bathing

forest-bathing-for-breast-cancer-patients

Try forest bathing to support your immune system

In 1982, the Forest Agency of Japan first proposed that ‘forest bathing,’ was good for your health. No, forest bathing is not dragging a bathtub into the woods and having a soak – although that does sound good! Rather it is visiting a forest or wood for relaxation, and gentle recreation, and breathing in the volatile substances from the trees. When did you last forest bathe?

Since 1982, forest bathing (aka ‘forest therapy’ and ‘Shinrin yoku’) has become a cornerstone of preventive health and healing in Japanese medicine. Many research studies, mainly from Japan and South Korea, have looked at how forest bathing creates positive effects. One of the key benefits is that it is seen to improve our immune function by increasing the number and activity of natural killer cells.

Natural Killer Cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cells that provide a rapid response to viral-infected cells and cancer cells. These immune cells don’t rely on antibodies so are able to produce a much faster immune reaction than other immune cells. They have a tumor immunosurveillance role, directly killing tumor cells. Take a look at this brief video which shows you how they work:

Natural killer cells are therefore of prime importance to destroying cancer cells in our body. Thus we can see that using lifestyle approaches like forest bathing to improve our natural killer cell activity can help in both prevention of cancer – by killing those rogue tumor cells formed everyday – and in the prevention of metastasis of tumors.

Phytoncides

One of the factors that has been identified as causing these immune improvements is our breathing-in of phytoncides – the natural chemicals secreted by evergreen trees, such as a-pinen and limonene. The levels of phytoncide in the air seem to correlate with the improvements in immune functioning. If we look back in history, these health effects were recognized then; in the 1800s, many tuberculosis clinics were set up in pine forests. Patients’ outcomes were reported as them having a “forest cure.”

Health benefits of Forest Bathing

In addition to the benefits of increased NK cells and their activity, bathing ourselves in the forest environment has been shown to also:

  • reduce blood pressure
  • reduce stress
  • improve mood
  • increase energy
  • improve sleep
  • support deeper and clearer intuition
  • decrease adrenaline levels
  • reduce pain
  • ease mental fatigue

Image of the concept of forest bathing – immersing in the forest environment for immune support, from CALMERme.com

Incorporating forest bathing into your life

Trees, sunshine, grass, and wildlife all too frequently take a backseat in our busy city or urban lives.

Think back to the last time you were surrounded by nature – maybe a walk when you noticed the fresh, vibrant green of a new leaf, or an insect, or the color of the bark of a tree, or saw a rabbit hop past. These moments of discovery and fascination are spontaneous and effortless kinds of attention, not like the attention we have to use at work or during most of our day. As we follow our curiosity from the leaf to a flower to a butterfly, we relax in an exploration of nature which gives our attention-driven brain a break. The sounds of nature are also important, for example, the calming sound of water helps to balance our hormones. Forest bathing doesn’t involve going for a strenuous hike in the woods; rather, it has a gentleness and awareness to it – a sensory experience.

So consider giving yourself a break, and find some time this week to be in nature. Let that effortless attention and fascination take over. And if you aren’t up for that, try bringing some nature indoors to you – open the windows, look at the trees, listen to the sound of a waterfall on your computer, put a nature screensaver on your computer screen, watch a nature DVD…. Yes, even looking at a scene of a forest has been found to reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone) 13% compared to looking at an urban scene.

Resources

For more information on forest bathing, take a look at this Shinrin-yoku website and the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. Many of the research studies are shown on the Association website too. These resources also include information about guides, local walks, and training to become a forest therapist. The walks are short in distance and focus on breathing, relaxing, listening, healing, wandering, and touch.

Ruth BaillieRuth Baillie is originally from the UK and now lives most of the year in Northern California. She holds two Master’s degrees, one in Personalized Nutrition (distinction), and another in Health Psychology. She is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Certified Professional Cancer Coach, and Cancer Guide, and has undertaken considerable post-graduate studies in integrative naturopathic oncology. She is the author of “Choices in mind-body medicine for cancer patients in Sonoma County, California” and her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

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