CANCER AND RESILIENCY WITH KAREN SIMONTON
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***IMPORTANT: Our chats are also recorded on our FORUM on our online community. There you can comment and ask questions!***
Karen Simonton is the Executive Director of the Simonton Cancer Center. She is an amazing human being and a gifted healer.
Karen_Simonton: : Hello everyone I am happy to join you this evening. The Simonton Cancer Center is a nonprofit charitable trust, founded on the work of my late husband, O. Carl Simonton M.D., a board certified Radiation oncologist. SCC was the first and remains to this day, the longest running program of its kind in the world, focused on the emotional and psychological aspects of disease, specifically cancer. Our goal is to assist patients and their families during this challenging time by teaching certain tools and techniques that can enhance well-being and improve survival. We are not a support group, although one certainly will receive support, nor are we strictly a coping mechanism- although participants will certainly learn tools to cope most effectively. We are more of an intervention program- During our last 40 years we have researched and experimented with what we know can have positive results for patients. In 1983, we began drumming circles in our patient programs. It began as a fun, and very human way to connect. There are many documented medical benefits of drumming and stress reduction, dealing with anger and depression is certainly one that is very important.
Raven_Drum Community: Does cancer have something to see with bad feelings like anger or not been able to forgive?
Karen_Simonton: Unresolved emotional conflict may create health issues that can interfere in our lives.
Karen_Simonton: Our immune system is driven by our emotions, so addressing emotional issues is critical. These emotions do not have to be dramatic - but problems arise when they become chronic.
Karen_Simonton: Chronic concerns...fear, anger, depression...which of course goes with the territory for cancer- need some help to resolve. I am not referring to positive thinking, although that can be helpful- but I refer to Healthy Thinking
Raven_Drum Community: HEALTHY THINKING
Karen_Simonton: Losing family and friends to disease is very difficult. It is also a time for you to be aware and take good care of yourself. Grief takes a toll and is one of our many predictors.
Karen_Simonton: Positive thinking is not always based on the facts at hand.
Karen_Simonton: Healthy Thinking requires a change in actually how we perceive our world. And how we talk to ourselves and to others, including the choice of the words we use...
Karen_Simonton: Healthy Thinking is based on the idea we are not upset by things but the view we take of them. This explains how our emotions work-
Karen_Simonton: We ask our participants to list their thoughts/fears/self-talk.
Karen_Simonton: Then we use a process called the ABC's of Emotions and have them answer several questions based on this belief.
Karen_Simonton: So you would begin by writing out the event and your perception of it (what you see, hear, feel)
Karen_Simonton: Then your sincere thoughts (only the ones you BELIEVE) about your perceptions and finally your emotional response to your thoughts on this subject
Karen_Simonton: It is important to identify if your thoughts and beliefs and the resulting feelings are healthy or unhealthy.
Karen_Simonton: To determine this you will need to honestly answer the following questions:
Karen_Simonton: 1.Are your thoughts/beliefs based on fact?
Karen_Simonton: 2. Do your thoughts/beliefs help to protect your life and your health?
Karen_Simonton: 3.Do your thoughts/beliefs help you reach your short and long term goals?
Karen_Simonton: 4. Do your thoughts/beliefs help you avoid your most undesirable conflicts?
Karen_Simonton: 5. Do you thoughts/beliefs make you feel the way you want to feel?
Karen_Simonton: If you answered "NO" to any three of these questions, your belief/thought is considered unhealthy and needs to change.
Karen_Simonton: Remember: To Feel better it is important to THINK better
Karen_Simonton: Get out paper and pencil and write, keep a record.
Karen_Simonton: The most effective time to work is when you are experiencing the greatest emotional pain. This is when unhealthy beliefs will be the easiest to identify. The most effective time to explore unhealthy beliefs is when undesirable emotions are interfering with your life.
Karen_Simonton: For example: Fear is interfering with my sleep
Karen_Simonton: Step 1 is we identify the undesirable emotion (fear. Anger)
Karen_Simonton: Step 2 is take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it from top to bottom
Karen_Simonton: Step 3 In the left hand column, list five or more beliefs that are producing this emotion
Karen_Simonton: Step 4 Evaluate each belief using the questions we spoke of earlier
Karen_Simonton: Step 5 is in the right hand column, write out a healthier and incompatible belief.
Karen_Simonton: An example: I'm going to be very sick and incapacitated, a burden to myself and others. This looks pretty unhealthy.
Karen_Simonton: So a healthier belief is writing out "I may or may not be ill but what I do makes a significant difference. I can get well.”
Karen_Simonton: Our background and experiences are important but again it is how we perceive these events as to what effect it will have on us.
Karen_Simonton: There is great importance to doing what brings us joy and deep fulfillment
Karen_Simonton: Humor is also an important tool and I see it has been useful to many
Karen_Simonton: In a way it IS therapy
Karen_Simonton: Like everything else it is important to have a good therapist or leader in a group. For support groups this can make the difference of really doing work on your health or just sitting around and complaining.
Karen_Simonton: The cancer process can be a powerful and even spiritual journey for many.