Yoga, music and art therapies are just some of the integrated services offered through the CompleteLife program at the Indiana University Health Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.
Founded in 1999 by Dr. Larry Cripe, these programs nurture the mind, body and spirit, as patients battle cancer.
“I think it’s about how you make an interaction or relationship founded upon treatment, into a more caring relationship,” Cripe said.
In its early stages, it was established that the CompleteLife program would meet a need that wasn’t yet being met for cancer patients.
“I realized very early in my practice that there were a lot of needs of people with cancer that I was not trained to identify or respond to,” Cripe said. “And many of those needs were more of an emotional or an existential nature.”
Stella Snyder, an oncology trained yoga therapist for the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, and instructor and the Little Red Door Cancer Agency, works with cancer patients on a weekly basis.
She’s seen first hand how integrated treatments have helped improve a patient’s overall livelihood by making them more relaxed and aware, while ultimately helping them cope with their diagnosis.
“When you’re going through something like cancer, you develope a higher level of consciousness and that is usually what brings people to something like yoga,” Snyder said. “So I see a lot of patients that have never tried yoga and maybe don’t even know what yoga is … it’s going to be an obvious success story because they’re using this mind [and] body connected practice that is helping them feel comfortable in their bodies.”
With gentle yoga movements, patients tend to experience relief of chronic lymphedema, Snyder said.
In 2006, Carmon Weaver Hicks, 46, was diagnosed with cancer. After undergoing a mastectomy and being cancer free for nearly six years, her cancer returned. This time, at four cancer and it has entered her bones.
The breathing and relaxation help calm Hicks’ mind, she said. It also allows her to find peace, which is difficult at times for cancer patients who are often facing the unknown as Hicks describes.
Although, it’s important to note these integrated methods of care should not be looked to as a means to an end for cancer. However, the combination of traditional treatment and treatment for the mind and spirit, all aid in the overall health of the patient, Dr. Cripe notes. Continue reading >>