Often the burden that cancer patients carry is not only the tumor and how it affects the body. Even after the cancer is gone, the psychological damage from the disease continues to haunt the survivors.
Integrative medicine services such as the one offered by Hospital Albert Einstein, in São Paulo, are helping patients and survivors see life through a more positive lens.
It's been well established the relationship between mind and physical health: a good mental state helps with hormone production and strengthens the immune system, which in turn could defend the body against new tumors.
"Coaches help patients to understand in what moment they are in the treatment and to sort out what they want. We don't hand out a list with ten items - exercise, eat well, etc -- to people without asking if this what they really want," explains Denise Tiemi, oncologist and coordinator of Einstein's Survivorship Program.
"I think every cancer patient should go through this kind of program. I was completely lost and there was no point in treating only my kidney. Someone had to treat me as a whole," says Leonardo (fictitious name), 36, who had a tumor removed.
The idea behind the program, as Hospital Paulistano's coach, Ricardo Lima, a dental surgeon by training, is to help the patient to sort herself out and make decisions regarding her personal and professional life, as well as organizing daily tasks and managing stress. "Many new goals may appear in the course of the treatment," Lima says.
Translated by NATASHA MADOV