National Coalition of Breast Cancer Centers Article
Living Well – A Comprehensive Program for Breast Cancer Survivors
"Everything we think affects our health, and I need think of myself as worthy"
– D. M.
Once treatment is complete, many cancer survivors still need to "find themselves" and struggle for wellness and a healthy lifestyle. In support groups, people learn how to take care of each other. In Way to Wellness, people learn how to take care of themselves and gain energy by exploring the mind/body connection, including relaxation techniques, journaling skills and structured methods to live life at their level of preference.
The Way to Wellness focuses on mental, emotional, spiritual and physical fitness in a retreat-style environment. The program structure includes a combination of lectures, journaling, group and paired activities, visualization, meditation, discussion, stretching and strengthening, as many of the participants are resuming a physical fitness program now that their treatment is completed.
Prior to Day 1, participants complete a pre-test. Approximately six weeks after the program, participants complete the same survey and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the course content. Some of the quantitative results were:
1. 90% felt the program greatly meet their needs.
2. Percent who felt their amount of exercise is adequate increased (46% pre, 50% post)
3. Percent who needed help with exercise goals decreased (75% pre, 58% post)
4. Percent who felt they had relaxation strategies/activities increased (25% pre, 100% post)
5. Percent who meditate increased (20% pre, 100% post)
6. Percent who journal daily increased (5%pre, 90% post)
7. Precent who feel they have coping strategies/techniques increased (40% pre, 100% post)
8. We asked participants to rate the following on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low and 10 being high (average responses provided). We hoped to see the average number DECREASE, showing improvement.
a. Anxiety: 6 pre / 3 post (decrease - improved)
b. Stress level: 7 pre / 4 post (decrease - improved)
c. Fatigue: 6 pre / 4 post (decrease - improved)
9. We asked participants to rate the following on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low and 10 being high (average responses provided). We hoped to see the average number INCREASE, showing improvement.
a. Sleep quality: 5 pre / 8 post (increase - improved)
b. Sleep quantity: 4 pre / 7 post (increase - improved)
c. Mental attitude: 7 pre / 8 post (increase - improved)
d. Happiness: 7 pre / 8 post (increase - improved)
The quantitative feedback included statements such as:
- "This changed my path from a bad attitude, to accepting and caring from an honest place. Because of Way to Wellness, I learned that I do have worth. Laurie's generosity as a teacher allowed me to learn more and experience by sharing my most private thoughts. It helped hearing from others who have also suffered."
- "I received the gift of open-mindedness. Way to Wellness assisted me in being accountable to myself, and helped me to look at my problems as issues, challenges. I highly recommend this program and it should be open to all people suffering from illness."
- "On top of the oral seminar, I loved the exercises, and hardly realized we'd worked out for an hour! Way to Wellness helped me recognize how my thoughts and fears creep into my body, and what to do about it. Laurie is very articulate and easy to follow."
Interview with our Program Facilitator
We recently interviewed the program facilitator, Laurie Seligman, MA, who shared her thoughts on health, wellness and recovery with us. Laurie is the owner of Conscious Fitness Training®, and offers a unique perspective on the healing process for breast cancer survivors.
Jennifer: What do you feel is the missing link in health?
Laurie: Worthiness. Most of us walk around feeling unworthy, and don't want to admit it. We try to cover it with exercising, going on a diet, changing an attitude, persevering in a relationship, and keeping a job or career we don't like. Cancer diagnosis can provide an opportunity to step into the light of worthiness. If you don't hold yourself in high esteem, you won't change after cancer treatment. When you feel worthy, you listen to your intuition, which is the first necessary step in living true to yourself.
Jennifer: Could you explain your thoughts on the difference between health and wellness?
Laurie: I have studied the mind-body connection for a long time, and it is finally beginning to surface in medicine. Health is absence of disease, but wellness is about living well. Most people think of health as a valuable commodity, and wellness as a vague, ethereal concept. When you have wellness, you take 100% responsibility for your life in all areas: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. I think most people would much prefer to live well than simply be disease-free.
Jennifer: How do these concepts relate to someone who has had cancer?
Laurie: Cancer is much less life-threatening than ever before, but the fear of getting it and the trauma of going through treatment can be very distressing. I think we are a cancer-aware society, but we are not comfortable with addressing the frustration and hardships associated with treatment. Cancer treatment presents a crucial time to do some soul searching and reach for secret yearnings. Believing you are worthy, learning and achieving your life preferences, and living your truth must come first in your life.
We are very pleased to continue to work with Laurie and offer The Way to Wellness at our hospital. Our patients benefit from it tremendously, and we feel that it augments our other support programs greatly. If you would like additional information on the program, please contact Jennifer Anderson at 949-365-2273, ext. 1 or Jennifer.Anderson@stjoe.org, or Laurie Seligman, M.A. at www.dolphinata.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Conscious Fitness Training Seminars® is a curriculum that may be offered in a two day seminar, an ongoing weekly four part series, a half day workshop and two hour seminars.(below are samples only)
Two Day Seminar – Breakthrough and Change – in a safe group setting. During this intensified undiluted weekend, participants can immerse themselves completely. Energy is magnified, creating a crucible for change.
10:00 A.M.- 12:00 A.M. Meditation, course overview, group exercise, setting intentions
12:00-1:00 P.M. Lunch
1:00-5:00 P.M. Breathing exercises, Energy anatomy, videos, exercise, meditation, journaling, sharing time, setting dreamtime intentions, homework, prayer work, partnered exercises
Half Day Workshop
9:00 A.M.- 12:00 P.M.- Preparing the Container- Overview and education in Energy Anatomy, stress management techniques, Techniques for Rethinking, meditation tools. This format encourages participants to prepare, strengthen wellness patterns that serve, set intentions (half hour snack break) Introduction to medical music, hemi-synch, Dolphins and healing.
Four Part Series
Day/Evening two hour segments-Making and Taking Commitments to Self-
A layered non-linear approach teaches participants to identify needs, create structure and patterns, tools to maintain health and multi- level fitness through lecture, video, journaling, partnered exercises, toning, acoustic therapy and participation.
One-Two Hour Seminars
Introduction to personal definitions of Wellness, understanding the mind-body connection, stress management tools, class participation, learn how to take 100% responsibility and increase participation in health management.
Please contact Laurie Seligman, M.A. at www.Dolphinata.com 323-782-1001