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"Making Peace with Our Bodies": Breast Cancer Survivors Describe Experiences with Qigong

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September 26, 2020 - Breast cancer treatment leaves breast cancer survivors with an array of lasting side effects, including persistent postsurgical pain (PPSP). In a study published by the journal of alternative and complementary medicine, Harvard Medical School explored the perceptions of breast cancer survivors with PPSP as they learned Qigong mind-body exercise, a multimodal practice rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Participants included 18 female breast cancer survivors treated for stage 0-III breast cancer and experiencing PPSP. Participants were taught Qigong over 12 weeks. Semi-structured interviews were conducted before and after the intervention. 

Breast cancer survivors disclosed a disconnect between mind and body that emerged during treatment. They perceived Qigong as moving meditation, which enabled them to reconnect mind and body, lessen their pain, and make peace with their bodies. 

These women's experiences both inform the promise of integrating Qigong and related mind-body exercise into PPSP clinical practice guidelines and suggest new areas of research regarding the role of multimodal interventions for holistic healing in breast cancer survivors.




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