Breast Cancer Complementary Support Program Graphic  

Carol Kronewetter, PhD, Clinical Director, Clinical Service

Brook Stone, MSW, LCSW, Associate Director, Clinical Service

Rosalind Benedet, RN, MSN, NP, Health Education

Jnani Chapman, RN, PHN, CMT, Yoga

Deborah Hamolsky, RN, MS, Health Education

Sylvine Jerome, MD, Consultant

Ellen Levine, PhD, MPH, Consultant

Diane Neighbor, MA, DTR, Dance Therapy

Cindy Perlis, BS, MFA, Art for Recovery

Elizabeth Targ, MD, Consultant

Breast Cancer Complementary Support Program Research

Research has confirmed that psychosocial services for women with breast cancer increase quality of life, decrease anxiety and depression, and increase survival time. Psychosocial services have traditionally included support groups, educational forums, and patient advocacy. Recently, complementary approaches such as yoga, meditation, imagery, exercise and diet changes, and expressive arts have become popular with patients and the larger medical community. In a three-year research project, the Breast Cancer Personal Support and Lifestyle Intervention Trial of UCSF and CPMC, has demonstrated the effectiveness of these alternative complementary support interventions. At the close of a 12-week program of complementary, experientially-based supportive interventions, women had significant improvements in mood and quality of life with a concomitant decrease in the trauma associated with breast cancer and its treatment. We also found significant decreases in fatigue, pain, and increased functional capacity (work, home chores, etc.). Results of one year follow up are in process.

The Breast Cancer Complementary Support Program is modeled after this research trial. Our goal is to create a healing community, a place where fears and concerns can be expressed in a setting of acceptance and support and to provide education, information, and complementary modalities to enhance the body's disease-fighting capacity. We teach practical ways to cope and to process unhelpful feelings and reactions by using meditation, imagery, nutrition, yoga, lifestyle change habits and expressive arts. The support program offers an intensive interpersonal experience which decreases isolation and creates a strong sense of connection and community. The use of the complementary treatment modalities is profoundly transformative for women and contributes significantly to health, less fatigue and pain, better health habits, sustainability of feelings of well-being and hope, and overall increased quality of life.

Our programs are open to women with all stages of breast cancer. The programs are organized in two ways. One is a two-day one night retreat that introduces women to complementary modalities of care and health education and offers immersion and practice in these techniques. Four such retreats, serving 16 women each, are held annually. Each retreat has a specific thematic emphasis, e.g., self-care, spirituality, existential concerns, and is held in a local San Francisco hotel that offers a comfortable, supportive environment. The second is a 12-week long program similar to the two day retreat but more intensive and in-depth where patients come to our clinic for 5-7 hours per week to learn complementary modalities, make changes toward a more healthy lifestyle, gain information about breast cancer, confront the psychological and social implications of the disease, and experience a sense of community and support. Following completion of either program, women are invited to attend a weekly, ongoing support group.

Breast Cancer Complementary Support Program
1701 Divisadero St. #150
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 885-3785

Based on the Breast Cancer Personal Support and Lifestyle Intervention Trial of UCSF/CPMC
D.O.D. Grant # DAMD 17-96-1-6260

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