Cancer is becoming a chronic illness, as treatments improve and people live longer. This is good news, but brings with it a toll of on-going treatment and their side effects. Research tells us that people consider the psychological challenges of cancer to be harder to live with than the impact of treatment itself. Living with uncertainty is a given, whatever the prognosis. Mindfulness has much to offer this expanding population.
An 8-week mindfulness-based programme followed by radical treatment has the potential to lower levels of anxiety and improve wellbeing and sleep. Specifically adapted mindfulness interventions are now offered in some oncology departments and cancer support charities, including some Maggie’s centres and The Haven. MBSR was adapted by Linda Carlson in Canada and is called MBCR (Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery).
MBCT for Cancer (MBCT-Ca) developed from MBCT in the UK by Trish Bartley and colleagues, offers specialist teacher training in North Wales through CMRP (Centre for Mindfulness, Research and Practice), Bangor University. The overall spread of specialist courses is still patchy, but is growing steadily. Many people with cancer will access mindfulness programmes via Breathworks and general MBSR courses.
Breathworks – www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk
The Haven – www.thehaven.org.uk - support to people affected by breast cancer
Maggies – https://www.maggiescentres.org- support for people affected by cancer
Paul's Cancer Support Centre: paulscancersupport.org.uk/
Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP) – www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness - for details of specialist teacher training
For information on MBCT Ca programmes in North Wales contact www.trishbartley.co.uk
Carlson et al (2013) RCT comparing MBCR with supportive expressive group therapy (SET) for 271 distressed survivors of breast cancer. MBCR offered better outcomes than SET over a range of psychological measures.
Hoffman et al (2012) RCT into MBSR with 214 breast cancer patients – found improvement in mood, quality of life and well-being.
Shennan et al (2010). What is the evidence for the use of mindfulness-based interventions in cancer care? A review. Psycho-Oncology
Bartley, T., (2012). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Cancer
Bauer-Wu. S., (2011) Leaves Falling Gently
Burch, V and Penman, D., Mindfulness for Health
Burch, V., (2008) Living Well with Pain and Illness
Carlson, L.E. and Speca. M., (2010) Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery