A series of mindfulness podcasts have been launched by global biopharmaceutical company AbbVie specifically tailored for people affected by blood cancers. The podcast resources have been developed by mindfulness expert Dr Caroline Hoffman with input from a number of leading UK cancer charities including the Lymphoma Association, Leukaemia CARE, CLL Support Association and Bloodwise.
There have been several studies that demonstrate the negative psychological impact of blood cancers on patients.1 A 2016 global patient survey with nearly 4,154 respondents from across 72 countries developed by the Lymphoma Coalition showed that lymphoma patients were most impacted emotionally by changes in relationships with others, concerns about body image and depression. Patients were also impacted by financial stresses, a loss of self-esteem and isolation.2 Another study found that the emotional quality of life of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, one of the most common forms of adult leukaemia, was significantly reduced.3
Mindfulness expert Dr Caroline Hoffman commented, “When you practice mindfulness, you are training your brain into new and positive habits of coping and responding to the many stressful events that may be happening in your life. You may have recently been diagnosed with a blood cancer or waiting to see if or how your condition progresses. You may be undergoing tests or treatments, or perhaps you are in remission. These mindfulness podcasts are aimed to support you wherever you might find yourself right now and will help you develop inner resilience.”
Zack Pemberton-Whiteley, Head of Campaigns and Advocacy at Leukaemia CARE, said “Mental wellbeing is extremely important, but the emotional and psychological impact of a leukaemia diagnosis is often overlooked. It’s easy to fixate on an issue and lose sight of the bigger picture of how it’s affecting you, so it is important that anybody affected by a leukaemia diagnosis takes time to step back and reflect on their wider thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness offers a way of doing this. We need more resources such as these to help patients cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.”
David Innes, Chair of the Chronic Lymphocytic Lymphoma Support Association, commented, “Living with a blood cancer is very different from living with a solid tumour. For example, when diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), patients are often managed in early stages through a Watch and Wait strategy. The psychological implications of being told you have cancer but then being told you won’t be actively treated cannot be underestimated. In unsettling times such as these, mindfulness techniques could make a significant difference to patients and their loved ones.”
Stephen Scowcroft, Head of Business Development at the Lymphoma Association said, “The beauty of these mindfulness podcasts is that they can be used anywhere and at any time. They’re not only designed for patients but for loved ones and carers as we know a blood cancer diagnosis affects whole families and not just individuals. You may wish to listen to the podcasts if you’re having trouble sleeping or to use the practices to calm yourself while waiting for test results. Dr Hoffman’s advice to blood cancer patients is there is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness.
Reta Brownlow, Head of Patient Services at Bloodwise, said, “The psychological impact of a blood cancer diagnosis should not be underestimated, not only for patients but also their family and friends. Mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce emotional stress and anxiety so it’s exciting that there is now a set of mindfulness resources that have been created specifically for the needs of blood cancer patients – which might be utilised by their support network too.”
The podcast series can be accessed by visiting www.abbvie.co.uk/mindfulness.html. There are three modules: mindfulness of the breath; mindfulness of the soles of the feet and; mindfulness of the body, as well as an introductory filmed interview from Dr Hoffman explaining how to get the best from each practice.
- Allart-Vorelli P. Haematological cancer and quality of life: a systematic literature review. Blood Cancer J. 2015. 5(4): e305
- Lymphoma Coalition. Global Patient Survey. 2016. Available at: http://www.eli.eu/fr/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016_Global_Patient_Survey_Report.pdf. Last accessed: May 2017
- Shanafelt TD. Quality of life in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: an international survey of 1482 patients. Br J Haematol. 2007. 139(2):255-64