Mindfulness in Oncology: Healing Through Relationship
Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer brings up many issues for people including uncertainty about the future, uncontrollability of events, fear of death, and constant change. Patients also have to face painful and sometimes unrelenting symptoms of disease or treatment, and often constant fears of recurrence once treatment is complete. Patients also bring to the cancer journey their own unique history, personality, and preexisting psychopathologies. Mindfulness-informed and mindfulness-based therapies can play an important role in helping patients and families cope with these difficulties. In this chapter, I share my journey as a junior psychologist working with a patient going through lymphoma treatment who had a long psychiatric history. Through this journey, I learned the importance of simple mindful presence, as well as the value of training for both the patient and myself in formal mindfulness practices. While mindfulness may not be the ultimate panacea for every patient, it played a vital role in healing for both of us.