While oncologists use drugs and invisible rays to treat your cancer, there are other aspects to life that need treatment too – your whole person! I sum this up by saying that your body, mind, and spirit need attention and healing, too. Gentle exercise can help get you moving again and life your mood. A makeover for your public persona can encourage the inner you to adopt a new outlook. And a retreat may combine all three elements with exercise, massage, pampering, and support from others. Check out some of these ideas for giving your whole self some time in which to heal.
Photo © Barry Stone
Breast cancer survivors in treatment or recovery may benefit from trying restorative yoga
, the practice of physical postures or poses that does not require strength or flexibility. Yoga may help calm your mind, improve your sleep, and tone your body, relieving pain and bring more oxygen into your body. If you're not sure you want to commit to a yoga workout, first try a free class. Free yoga classes can be found by visiting YogaBear
- a site dedicated to " more opportunities for wellness and healing to the cancer community through the practice of yoga." If you'd rather practice yoga at home, try some free beginner's yoga videos
from About.com's Yoga Guide.
Photo © Violet Li
For a very gentle exercise routine, look back to the Yellow Emperor of ancient China, credited with developing a system of movements based on nature. Tai Chi
, sometimes called Taijichuan, a moving meditation, and shadow boxing, is practiced for health benefits. Although it is a form of martial arts, the movements relate primarily to self-defense, rather than to offensive combat. You don't need a uniform or special equipment to practice Tai Chi, but just a flat, clear space in which to move. Health benefits of Tai Chi
may include: improvement in balance, heart health, flexibility, and lower blood pressure. Check with your local parks and recreation department for free Tai Chi classes or see some free Tai Chi videos
Photo © Microsoft
Your local American Cancer Society can connect you with a Reach to Recovery
volunteer - a breast cancer survivor living past treatment and recovery. Volunteers
with Reach to Recovery are trained to offer you support, encouragement, and information. Breast cancer patients who are newly diagnosed or those who are already in treatment can ask to meet a Reach to Recovery volunteer, who can demonstrate arm exercises
to reduce the possibility of arm lymphedema and improve shoulder rotation. Reach to Recovery sometimes provides a temporary breast prosthesis
, a mastectomy bra, printed literature for you and your family, and a list of local resources. The emotional support you can get from a volunteer survivor is priceless!
Photo © Microsoft
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can take a toll on your hair, skin, nails, and self-esteem. At a free Look Good … Feel Better workshop, you will learn how to pamper your skin, care for your nails, and deal with hair loss. Register for a class with your nearby American Cancer Society and you can look forward to free samples of products donated by the cosmetics industry, as well as lessons in skin care and makeup, manicures, wigs, and other headgear. Some Look Good … Feel Better locations can provide free wigs and scarves, as well as professional makeovers. Every state has a free Look Good … Feel Better workshop staffed by beauty industry volunteers. Programs, services, and makeup kits will vary by location and the resources available.
Healing For Your Spirit: Low-Cost and Free Retreats
Photo © Pam Stephan
Retreats are a time to step away from everyday concerns. Some retreats are also for fly fishing, as in free, 3-day Casting For Recovery retreats. Or it could incorporate yoga classes offered by the Libby Ross Foundation, in a supportive setting with other survivors. Perhaps you'd rather climb a mountain, splash in a kayak, and meditate in nature. Try the Adventure Weekend from the American Cancer Society for $60, or apply for a scholarship. If you want to hang out with breast cancer experts as well as do yoga, sign up with Living Beyond Breast Cancer for a donation of $20. These are only a few of the great retreats just for breast cancer survivors. Check with your local support groups and clubs for more retreat opportunities.