Friday, May 15, 2009

Pathfinders Mind Body Program Helps Women with Breast Cancer

Researchers at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center find that women with cancer can benefit through improved quality of life by participating in programs that address mind, body and spirit.

Amy Abernethy, M.D., an oncologist at Duke University Medical Center, lead investigator of the study says that Pathfinders, a program that takes a holistic approach to caring for women with metastatic breast cancer, helped women cope with their diagnosis of cancer, showing that a mind, body, spirit approach can help meet the psychological needs of women diagnosed with cancer.

The Pathfinder program utilizes hope, balance, inner strengths, self care, support, spirit and life review to teach women how to cope with being diagnosed with cancer.

“Even though the women were getting sicker and experiencing more symptoms related to their cancer, they reported that they felt less distress and despair as a result of being able to better cope with the cancer," explains Dr. Abernethy.

Tina Staley, director of Pathfinders says the goal is to teach women diagnosed with cancer effective ways to communicate with physicians, nurses, and Pathfinders, using a common language. The program also encourages women to seek alternative and complementary services.

"There is a growing body of data that shows cancer patients have unmet psychosocial needs, and with programs like Pathfinders we are able to care for the whole person. As a result, we found that this group of women reported a higher quality of life three months after being diagnosed than was expected”.

The study enrolled fifty women with a life expectancy of less than six months, diagnosed with breast cancer. The women met with a Pathfinder and social worker monthly, in addition to receiving e-mails, and telephone conversations to provide support. The women were taught how to find their inner strength, helping them to deal with breast cancer, and improving quality of life.

Duke Medicine News and Communications

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