Cancer Diagnosis Lebanon OR
Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology
Coos Bay, OR
Hematology / Oncology
Medical School: Univ Of Ca, San Diego, Sch Of Med, La Jolla Ca 92093
Graduation Year: 1974
Accepting New Patients: Yes
5.0, out of 5 based on 1, reviews.
Medical School: Georgetown Univ Sch Of Med, Washington Dc 20007
Graduation Year: 1985
Hematology / Oncology
Giving Energy to Get Energy
By Amy Paturel
Nearly nine years ago, just as 31-year-old Catherine Kerr was embarking on the career she’d been working toward for years—teaching history at Harvard—a routine blood test brought news that stunned her. Doctors told her she had multiple myeloma, a rare and incurable cancer that’s caused by a type of white blood cell.
As she awaited the inevitable symptoms of weakness, anemia, and bone loss, Kerr began practicing qi gong, the soothing form of movement work from which tai chi is derived. Each morning, she awoke to begin the day with an hour of slow, meditative movements, flowing into postures with names like White Crane and Bear Swimming, her breathing deep and relaxed.
When you’re faced with a cancer diagnosis, an exercise program is about the last thing you’d expect to start. But that’s increasingly what patients are being encouraged to do. Experts say that movement—especially when it has a meditative, calming component—may help keep patients strong. Indeed, several studies of cancer patients have suggested that by boosting both physical and emotional functioning, exercise can help patients cope better with their illness and the often-debilitating treatments that go with it.
Qi gong is especially well-suited to cancer patients, proponents say, because it’s gentle, low impact, and can be adapted to any skill level. What’s more, it offers a unique set of mind-body benefits. “Qi gong taps into the mental parts of our being in a way that other exercises don’t,” says Karl Rosengren, an associate professor of psychology and kinesiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “It promotes an improved outlook on life.”
Instead of letting their thoughts drift while exercising or tuning in to music, as many exercisers do, qi gong students turn their focus inward, visualizing healing energy flowing through their bodies. In fact, in Chinese the term qi gong can be translated as “to study the body’s energy.” Ramel Rones, the Boston qi gong master who’s Kerr’s instructor, likens the practice to giving yourself acupuncture, using your own body instead of needles to activate the pressure points. “When you practice qi gong, muscles alternately tense and relax,” he says. “When muscles tense, they put pressure on the energy channels. When that pressure is released, blood and energy rush in.”
After several months of practicing for about an hour and a half each day, Kerr stepped up her routine to three hours daily. Three weeks later, her IGG protein—the main indicator of her disease—dropped 15 percent. Throughout this time, she felt strong and was able to continue teaching full-time. (She was getting no anticancer treatment then.) Her doctors chalked up the improvement to a random fluctuation in the disease process, but Kerr was convinced the practice was helping her. She continued it—and remained healthy and active—for the next four and a half years.
But then Kerr’s cancer began to stir, and the treatment she’d hoped to avoid ...
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