BREAST CANCER AWARENESS: Yoga offers outlet for stress of …

By Erin Weaver
erweaver@montgomerynews.com

Jessica D’Angelo, owner of Shine Yoga studio in Perkasie, holds a yoga pose. Photo courtesy of Jessica D’Angelo

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The daunting task of treating breast cancer with harsh physical measures like surgery and chemotherapy can make alternative medicine appealing to those hoping for a gentler approach to treatment.

However, there is a key distinction between alternative medical options and complementary treatment for breast cancer.

Complementary treatment is, as the name implies, a complement to standard treatments for breast cancer. These standard treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and radiation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alternative medicine is used in place of standard treatments; most alternative treatments are untested and often discouraged by health care professionals. The National Cancer Institute says that alternative treatment providers may make promising claims about their alternative medicine, but most treatments are not proven to be more effective. Studies are underway, however, to learn more about atypical treatments.

The CDC makes it clear that the safest route is to consult a doctor before trying alternative medicine. The most common alternative treatment for cancer is acupuncture, which involves puncturing the skin with needles.

While the NCI found in one study that some women with breast cancer and experiencing joint pain found relief through acupuncture, there is little scientific support to suggest it can cure breast cancer.

While alternative medicine is often advised against, complementary medicine has been found as a viable option for coping with the side effects of breast cancer treatment, especially emotional stress and physical discomfort.

Yoga and meditation have been found to help women cope with cancer by providing a relaxing outlet for frustrations and stress. Jessica D’Angelo, owner of Shine Yoga studio in Perkasie, said that she has had yogis diagnosed with several different kinds of cancer, and many of them have found comfort in yoga.

“I’ve had a lot of cancer survivors and cancer patients say they find yoga to be such a complement to what they’ve been prescribed,” she said.

D’Angelo, like many oncologists, does not advice using yoga instead of standard treatments, but rather as an addition to help deal with the diagnosis and treatment side effects. Continued…

“I’m very against alternative medicine,” she said. “We’d never recommend that here. But for anyone that wants to keep their spirits up while dealing with cancer, yoga is a great way to do that. Yoga maintains and conditions the body’s stamina during treatment.”

Chemotherapy and radiation can take a significant toll on the body, leaving patients exhausted and feeling ill with severe side effects.

“Yoga combines light exercise, meditation and a general feeling of well-being,” D’Angelo said. “It’s a powerful thing to help facilitate someone’s healing.”

Although yoga is not a painkiller, D’Angelo said she finds that, conceptually speaking, it works in a similar way.

“Painkillers help your body relax, and when your body is relaxed, it can rest. And when your body is resting, it can heal itself,” she said. “Yoga is the same way — yoga helps your body relax and rest, which opens your body to healing.”

Meditation in yoga can also provide emotional healing. After leaving a yoga class, D’Angelo said her students feel more relaxed and optimistic.

“Meditation in yoga requires focusing on the positive, and letting negativity go. Doctors talk about your sickness — in a yoga class, we talk about your health,” she said. “When you focus on the positive aspect of your health and well-being, that feeling grows exponentially.”

According to D’Angelo, the light exercise, meditation and relaxation that comes with yoga allows the body to rejuvenate.

“Chemotherapy goes into your body, but it needs to come back out,” she said. “Doing yoga helps refresh the body and stimulates the glandular and endocrine systems in the body. But it’s not a cure. Yoga won’t cure you.”

Curing cancer, D’Angelo emphasized, is a much longer and more complicated journey. Continued…

“It takes a village to cure cancer — doctor, consultants, family and friends are all necessary to physical and emotional healing,” she said. “Yoga is just one part of that.”

Follow Erin Weaver on Twitter @ByErinWeaver.

The daunting task of treating breast cancer with harsh physical measures like surgery and chemotherapy can make alternative medicine appealing to those hoping for a gentler approach to treatment.

However, there is a key distinction between alternative medical options and complementary treatment for breast cancer.

Complementary treatment is, as the name implies, a complement to standard treatments for breast cancer. These standard treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and radiation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alternative medicine is used in place of standard treatments; most alternative treatments are untested and often discouraged by health care professionals. The National Cancer Institute says that alternative treatment providers may make promising claims about their alternative medicine, but most treatments are not proven to be more effective. Studies are underway, however, to learn more about atypical treatments.

The CDC makes it clear that the safest route is to consult a doctor before trying alternative medicine. The most common alternative treatment for cancer is acupuncture, which involves puncturing the skin with needles.

While the NCI found in one study that some women with breast cancer and experiencing joint pain found relief through acupuncture, there is little scientific support to suggest it can cure breast cancer.

While alternative medicine is often advised against, complementary medicine has been found as a viable option for coping with the side effects of breast cancer treatment, especially emotional stress and physical discomfort.

Yoga and meditation have been found to help women cope with cancer by providing a relaxing outlet for frustrations and stress. Jessica D’Angelo, owner of Shine Yoga studio in Perkasie, said that she has had yogis diagnosed with several different kinds of cancer, and many of them have found comfort in yoga.

“I’ve had a lot of cancer survivors and cancer patients say they find yoga to be such a complement to what they’ve been prescribed,” she said.

D’Angelo, like many oncologists, does not advice using yoga instead of standard treatments, but rather as an addition to help deal with the diagnosis and treatment side effects.

“I’m very against alternative medicine,” she said. “We’d never recommend that here. But for anyone that wants to keep their spirits up while dealing with cancer, yoga is a great way to do that. Yoga maintains and conditions the body’s stamina during treatment.”

Chemotherapy and radiation can take a significant toll on the body, leaving patients exhausted and feeling ill with severe side effects.

“Yoga combines light exercise, meditation and a general feeling of well-being,” D’Angelo said. “It’s a powerful thing to help facilitate someone’s healing.”

Although yoga is not a painkiller, D’Angelo said she finds that, conceptually speaking, it works in a similar way.

“Painkillers help your body relax, and when your body is relaxed, it can rest. And when your body is resting, it can heal itself,” she said. “Yoga is the same way — yoga helps your body relax and rest, which opens your body to healing.”

Meditation in yoga can also provide emotional healing. After leaving a yoga class, D’Angelo said her students feel more relaxed and optimistic.

“Meditation in yoga requires focusing on the positive, and letting negativity go. Doctors talk about your sickness — in a yoga class, we talk about your health,” she said. “When you focus on the positive aspect of your health and well-being, that feeling grows exponentially.”

According to D’Angelo, the light exercise, meditation and relaxation that comes with yoga allows the body to rejuvenate.

“Chemotherapy goes into your body, but it needs to come back out,” she said. “Doing yoga helps refresh the body and stimulates the glandular and endocrine systems in the body. But it’s not a cure. Yoga won’t cure you.”

Curing cancer, D’Angelo emphasized, is a much longer and more complicated journey.

“It takes a village to cure cancer — doctor, consultants, family and friends are all necessary to physical and emotional healing,” she said. “Yoga is just one part of that.”

Follow Erin Weaver on Twitter @ByErinWeaver.

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