COVID19 Information and Resources for Cancer Patients
A message to those affected by cancer during the COVID19 pandemic.
We understand that those affected by cancer might be feeling a heightened sense of concern about COVID19, so we wanted to send you a message:
Cancer Institute NSW Information Resources:
People with cancer and cancer survivors, particularly those with compromised immune systems, are likely to be worried about the potential impact of coronavirus on their health. There are a number of good resources out there and the Cancer Institute NSW has provided a comprehensive list for cancer patients and carers.
Click here to find out more
In My Language – Cancer and COVID-19 Fact Sheets
Australians undergoing cancer treatment, cancer survivors and their families and friends may have questions in relation to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19. Fact sheets available in English, Vietnames, Arabic, Chinese,Indi, Hindi and Tagalog
Click here to find out more
MINDFULNESS – what is it? *
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz”
Suparna Karpe, Clinical Psychologist, Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital
You may have heard of Mindfulness – it’s had a lot of publicity recently – but what is it, exactly? Mindfulness is an ancient practice found in many eastern philosophies but especially in Buddhism. There are many definitions but the one I prefer is from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. He says mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.
We often go through daily life on automatic pilot. We do what we need to do, but without really noticing what’s going on. Even a simple routine like brushing your teeth is usually done without attention. How often have we really “felt” the toothpaste in our mouth? The way it foams or not, its texture, the taste, the way the brush feels on our teeth with, the coldness of the water, the sound of the tap running. Instead of attending to what we hear and taste and feel, we are already thinking of what we are going to wear, getting breakfast for the kids or the meeting we have at work first thing in the morning.
A question I often get asked is “why use mindfulness”?
Mindfulness based practices are ways to reconnect with our lives by engaging in and learning to participate fully in the present moment. Mindfulness practice might include meditation, but it doesn’t have to. The only way to really understand mindfulness is to practice it. Like driving a car, you can read about how to drive a car, or hear someone tell you what it’s like, but you can’t really understand the experience until you actually drive a car.
Mindfulness is as simple as becoming aware of your ‘here and now’ experience, both your internal thoughts and sensations and what’s happening in the world around you, but without judging those thoughts, sensations or experiences. It can enrich your experience of the everyday – nothing is trivial if you pay attention.
By anchoring us in the present moment, without judging, it makes a space where we can deal with distressing and painful memories – the memories are there but we are here, in this moment, not in that past moment. It also allows you to look ahead and plan for the future, even when you might have fearful thoughts about things that haven’t yet happened, because it provides a secure position in the present moment to consider those future possible moments. Of course, we are in the present moment – we just lose track of that fact quite often.
There’s quite a bit of research supporting the benefits of mindfulness practice for physical and mental health, and for building resilience. Examples of current research include studies looking at how the brain responds to mindfulness practice, how relationships benefit, and how people manage chronic health problems (like pain) with mindfulness.
There have been a number of research studies on mindfulness based stress reduction programs and mindfulness based meditation for cancer patients – click here to read more
Some examples of mindfulness practice:
You can start with basic exercises in noticing what is around you. These help in creating an awareness of the here and now and use our senses of sound, sight, taste, touch and smell.
Sight: Look around you and name five different objects as you look at them
Sight & Touch: Look at, name, and touch five different objects, noticing their texture, temperature, mass and weight as you do so
Sight, Touch and Smell/Taste: In the kitchen or a garden, look at, name, taste and smell five different things, noticing their colour, texture, taste and aroma
Hearing: Close your eyes and listen for five different sounds
Another exercise in mindfulness is simply to focus on your breathing. Simply notice as you breathe in and out. The purpose of the exercise is not to relax or control your breathing or to manage stress – it’s simply to create an awareness of the act of breathing.
For a detailed guide to the 5 senses exercise click here.
The NSW Cancer Council has a free CD with several mindfulness tracks – ask at the NSW Cancer Council Information Centre at the main entrance to the CPM Cancer Centre, or download from the NSWCC website:
At the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Care Center we run free groups on mindfulness based stress management for our patients and carers. Numbers are limited, and you need to book into a group so please call Suparna Karpe, Clinical Psychologist on 9845 9539 or Anita Rangganadhan, Clinical Psychologist on 9845 9538 to find out more.
The Media Units of the Western Sydney Local Health District and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District are committed to highlighting the positive work being done by our dedicated staff in providing the best care possible for our community, and achieving our vision of better health service.
Medical and Research Publications: Our research findings are regularly published in international and national medical and research journals.