Mindfulness for Cancer

Services
Living with Cancer

The end of treatment is a period of transition and has its own specific challenges…

Many patients report an increase in anxiety as frequent hospital visits, support and opportunities to discuss their concerns are replaced by infrequent out-patient clinic visits. Some say they feel ‘abandoned’. Many say they feel ‘at a loss’, not knowing what to do with their time or how to return to normal activities. Some patients remain depressed, withdrawn or anxious despite resolving physical effects.

“The period of recovery, when the effects of treatment are largely resolved and when normal life is returning, is one where new psychological techniques to enhance wellbeing; to prevent recurrent depression; and to enable people to cope with future problems can be particularly helpful. Mindfulness-based courses certainly have a role”.

Trish Bartley – Cancer Patient and Author of the 8 Week Mindfulness for Cancer Course.

What does Mindfulness for Cancer offer?

To experience being with your cancer in your life, in a different way.

Your prognosis and situation are unique. As the 8 week course unfolds, what can sometimes seem fixed or incessant can begin to become fluid, more open and new possibilities may emerge. It can build a compassionate way to ‘be with’ the difficult, the challenging and expose the moments of joy in day to day life.

An 8-week Mindfulness programme designed and refined by a cancer patient.

Trish Bartley (Bangor University) has been teaching and developing this programme since 2001. She constantly listens to all those who attend the course and updates and refines it to the global audience of Mindfulness teachers she trains annually. Her own experience with cancer in 2011 has very much informed this ongoing process.

A sharing of experience - the 'here and now' as opposed to personal stories.

The learning comes through personal experience of the practices. Participants share the ‘here and now’ experiences they have, as much or as little as they want to, in a group setting where confidentiality is respected. The learning from others’ experiences, similar, different or the opposite is palpable. No judgement, no fixing, just being heard.

Carers and supporter's courses

Carers and supporters can also benefit from attending the course. It allows a new light to be shone on life, exposing thought patterns, actions, habits, roles and routines that once served us well, but no longer do. This can be very valuable at a time when we are supporting others, making sure we are also looking after ourselves.

In this clip, participants discuss what brought them to Mindfulness. They discuss their experiences, their challenges and how Mindfulness helps them live with and beyond cancer.

Thank you to the University of Vermont Cancer Center for sharing this clip on YouTube for all to watch.

 

Frequently asked questions about Mindfulness for Cancer

It can seem alien to some that investigating a different way of being with cancer could be helpful. The associated mental and emotional distress caused by a cancer prognosis does not receive the same level of attention as the physical. Mindfulness addresses this imbalance.

Mindfulness isn't going to make my cancer go away, so what's the point?

Mindfulness can have a positive impact on mental and emotional stress. It’s role is to offer an opportunity to be open to what life brings, moment by moment. An alternative is to be stuck in a cycle of anxiety and fear about the future. The body and mind are intrinsically linked. Stress in one will cause stress in the other.

I am just so tired all of the time, I don't think I will be able to do the course?

Cancer fatigue impacts people in different ways. The 8 week course is reduced to 150 minute sessions and if you need to sleep through parts of the sessions, which is common, it is okay. Being with the experience of the ‘here and now’ as opposed to wishing things to be a different is a key theme of the programme.

I fear my cancer will return - how can the course help me with this?

Checking the body for signs or responding to areas that simply don’t feel right – can lead to fear that cancer may have returned or spread. This can lead to high levels of anxiety, fatigue and depression. Mindfulness can bring an open curiosity to experience. Decisions regarding clinical investigation can be made objectively as rumination is exposed before its powerful cycle kicks into full effect.

I didn't initally think of money with my diagnosis, but it is an issue for me.

I regularly communicate with a number of organisations locally and nationally that can offer help for those wishing to access mental and emotional support. It is best to talk to better understand your needs and situation – please get in touch.

I want to talk about my cancer, but not to my family or friends.

Mindfulness is not counselling per se. It is an opportunity to talk, if you wish, about the day to day experience of cancer in your life – the ‘here and now’. Even if it is just listening, hearing others share can be very liberating – you are not the only one experiencing this. There is often a mutual understanding and a shared empathy.

My Approach

There is no fixing or diagnosing, you are the expert in your experience. My role is that of a guide, knowing the territory, but not your personal map.

As we progress through the 8 week course, the learning unfolds in your ‘here and now’ experience. This happens in the classes we share and also in the 6 days in between.

I will gently guide you in terms of what you notice appearing in your attention. Often this may have always been there, but now you see it in a different light, or it could be something you were unaware of. The meaning derived from this is personal to you. Mindfulness can shine a light on unhelpful habits and reactive ways of thinking. Mindfulness can allow you to experience aspects of life in a new way.

Sharing this experiential learning in a group setting can be immensely powerful and liberating – but you only ever share what you feel comfortable with, if at all. Simply coming to the sessions and listening is still being part of the group.

How It Works

Arrange a free 1 to 1

It is critical for this course to have a detailed understanding of where you are in your life right now. If you feel comfortable enough to share a conversation, please get in touch. We can see if Mindfulness could benefit you and if this is the right time to explore it together.

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Finding out more about the course

I appreciate that anything you take on may place an extra demand on your resources and accordingly needs to be right for you. I can talk through the week to week sessions to see if this is something that you would like to investigate further.

Exploring an intention

There will be an intention or reason why you have begun to explore Mindfulness. It would be helpful to look at this together. In doing so we can see if Mindfulness will support you in the way you anticipate.

Mindfulness for Cancer  Course

The 8 week Mindfulness for Cancer course that I provide follows the programme of Trish Bartley of Bangor University. It consists of 150 minute sessions weekly with home practice of 30-40 minutes a day.

More Details

Mindfulness for Cancer Course
8 Weeks
120 mins sessions
30-40 mins daily home practice
£195 (including all course materials)

This 8 week introduction to Mindfulness for those impacted by cancer follows the programme (MBCT-Ca) written by Trish Bartley who lives with cancer. It initially opens our awareness to our direct experience, the ‘here and now’. This can move us to a position where we begin to see how habitually we react to day-to-day experiences. This is both in our emotional response to individual events and on-going situations. Part of this process is the gentle reconnection with the body. This can be particularly sensitive for those who have experienced treatment or surgery. As with all other aspects of the course, you are in charge of what you choose to do and not do. Following my guidance and making any personal adjustments as you feel best as we go along.

The second part of the course begins to turn towards the difficult, and exploring ways to be ‘okay’ with this. Acceptance (not to be confused with resignation) allows a kind and compassionate response to what is best for you right now in the face of this. We learn to recognise that the rumour mill in the mind may want to pull us in a different direction, feeding aversion and avoidance. But instead we come back to the direct experience, grounding ourselves in the ‘here and now’. In doing so regaining a foothold from which to see more objectively – allowing us to make skillful and self-caring decisions, better for us and those in our lives who we hold so dear.

8 Week Course Themes
1. Becoming aware of the Autopilot
2. Dealing with Barriers
3. Befriending the Breath and Body in Movement
4. Learning to Respond
5. Gently Being with the Difficult
6. Thoughts are not Facts
7. Taking Care of Myself
8. Going Beyond Fear

Only you have the power to start the process of change; I would be honoured to help you with this...