Your Health: Breast cancer recurrence

Health Reports

3.8 million women in the U.S. are breast cancer survivors. They’ve either heard the words “you are cured” or they are still being monitored and treated for the disease.

But for many women, there’s overwhelming fear that the disease will come back.

There’s always something happening in the Lyon’s family backyard. Kristen fought hard for her family to get to this point.

Lyons was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39.

“I was thinking about my kids and oh my goodness, what this mean for our future?” said Kristen Lyons, Breast cancer Survivor.

Kristen had treatment and beat the cancer. She rang the clinic bell signaling the all clear, but that started an internal battle that got worse.

“I thought I should have a new lease on life because here we are cancer free you know, and instead i found myself getting more and more worried and anxious,” said Lyons.

“The number one problem that almost every cancer survivor that I work with has dealt with is the fear that it’s going to come back,” said Shelly Johns, Clinical Health Psychologist, Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis.

Johns and her colleagues conducted a clinical trial comparing three interventions for people struggling with fear of cancer recurrence.

The research found that one method produced significant reduction, it’s called acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT.

“We’re all going to have thoughts and feelings that are uncomfortable. They just kind of naturally come into our mind. So it’s about accepting those thoughts and feelings without necessarily getting hooked by them,” said Dr. Johns.

Johns and her team met with survivors for six weeks and used mindfulness practices like meditation to help them focus.

The patients then developed a personal plan to give priority to their values, activities and people important to them. Lyons calls ACT life changing.

“I go down the worry path, but now I have the tools to reign it back in, and that’s made all the difference,” said Lyons.

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