A health problem, especially cancer has been a detrimental part of numerous lives both physically and mentally. Nagging sickness and medical treatment often overshadow a patient’s ability to live a somewhat normal life. For a breast cancer patient, it is important to increase quality of life, so the thought of possible reemergence isn’t on the mind. Many cancer patients have decreased emotional health that needs to be addressed equally with physical health. Active exercise is a factor most cancer patients don’t think of getting involved with, but this can have very positive effects on quality of life. Research has shown that emotion and physical activity relate to each other (Burnham & Wilcox, 2002). By developing a more sound physical and cognitive structure, a cancer survivor can increase their quality of life and have just as much a satisfaction as a healthy individual, maybe more.
One must look at the ingredients of high quality of life before achieving satisfaction. Emotional and physical health components are building blocks. Someone can be physically healthy, but “un-healthy” mentally. It is important to have a personal balance can between these two areas. Negative emotion can lead to increase stress and sickness, so it is important to address these situations. Common psychological side effects of cancer treatment include fatigue, depression, anxiety, body-image concerns and a sense of loss of control (Burnham & Wilcox, 2002). With an increased chance of anxiety and depression, being involved in group sessions may help alleviate these problems. One must also look at the emotional stress response to physical activities. Having a patient perform high intensity exercise to really get into shape may actually hinder emotional stability. Once exercise and emotional factors are achieved; quality of life can be mastered.
Quality of life is important, but even more so if deadly disease is involved. The definition for quality of life is an integrative system involving one’s perceived physical, social and psychological well being (Gill and Williams, 2008). When patients immerse themselves within physical activity, social improvements will also occur. Patients can reduce their depressed states of mind by actively participating in exercise groups. (World Health Organization, 1998) states that health is a state of physical and emotional well-being and not merely the absence of disease. Subjects should realize that even with disease, one can accomplish high quality of life. If patients attempt to “rest” for long periods after treatments, the prolonged inactivity after cancer will develop physiological and psychological deterioration (Burnham & Wilcox, 2002). It is without saying, very important to help cancer survivors with their physical and emotional states, even after “overcoming” the cancer itself.
As the director of an exercise program for breast cancer survivor patients, it is my responsibility to increase personal well-being and high quality of life after a life-threatening battle with cancer. Although, the subjects survived, their emotional stability can be very low after a long battle, both mentally and physically. The program will be organized to develop mental and physical skills, using emotional support and exercise. To start off the program, I will try cognitive development activities. Pulling psychological skill sets such as positive self talk and goal setting can help increase emotional capacity. Establishing positive emotional thought of self as well as associating oneself with others who have experienced similar problems will allow for an increased desire to succeed.
Throughout the program, group gatherings to maintain social functioning are important. Getting together for picnics, coffee and study groups can all be used to take thought off of illness. When initial emotional stability is improved, actual physical activity can incorporated as a bonus. High-intensity activity may be detrimental to emotion (Burnham and Wilcox, 2002), and will not be prescribed unless requested. In order to gain acute strength and flexibility, yoga, tai chi and Pilate’s activities to find emotional connection with body will be used. Once range of motion is increased, group aerobic activities, swim sessions, track walking and running can commence. Taking part in group activities will increase enjoyment because of interactions and feedback from peers (Gill & Williams, 2008). Being able to show subjects their physical health is increasing, looking at resting heart rate, RPE, strength and aerobic gains may increase desire to continue activity.
Cancer is an illness that can put a huge dampener on emotional and physical aspects of life. Treatment often leaves the patient extremely tired and physically changed. Loss of hair and sense of hopelessness decrease mental state. As an exercise program director, increasing quality of life by physical exercise and cognitive development strategies is important. Social support as well as personal development is needed to help decrease depressive states. Physical activity has been linked to increases in quality of life, and being able to increase cognitive health at the same time is an added benefit. Using moderate level physical activity will give the subjects a sense of accomplishment and increased health without the stress that high intensity activities can produce. No cancer survivor should sit in solitary when their life can be positive.
Burnham, T.R., & Wilcox, A. (2002). Effects of exercise on physiological and psychological variables in cancer survivors. Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, 34(12), 1863-1867.
Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
World Health Organization. (1998). WHOQOL user manual. Retrieved September 26, 2010, from http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/who_qol_user_manual_98.pdf