The effect of a contemplative self-healing program on quality of life in women with breast and gynecologic cancers.
Genital Neoplasms, Female
Quality of Life
Stress-related symptoms-intense fear, avoidance, intrusive thoughts--are common among breast and gynecologic cancer patients after chemotherapy and radiation. The objective of this pilot study was to determine the impact of a 20-week contemplative self-healing program among breast and gynecologic cancer survivors on self-reported quality of life (QOL), the main outcome. Assessments were performed at the first session and at 20 weeks, including QOL (FACIT-G, FACIT subscales, SF-36), anxiety, and depression (HADS). Biologic markers of immune function were obtained. A 20-week program was implemented: the initial 8 weeks addressed open-mindfulness, social-emotional self-care, visualization, and deep breathing followed by 12 weeks of exposing stress-reactive habits and developing self-healing insights. Daily practice involved CD-guided meditation and manual contemplations. Sixty-eight women were enrolled, and 46 (68%) completed the program. Participants had significant within-patient changes on FACIT-G, improving by a mean of 6.4 points. In addition, they reported clinically important improvement in emotional and functional domains and social, role-emotional, and mental health status domains on SF-36. Biologic data revealed significant improvement in maximum AM cortisol and a reduction in resting heart rate at 20 weeks. These findings suggest a contemplative self-healing program can be effective in significantly improving QOL and reducing distress and disability among female breast and gynecologic cancer survivors.