Surgeon: Yoga, meditation help cancer patients

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A doctor in Oregon is planning a first-of-its-kind program to help heal the body and relieve symptoms of fatigue and depression brought on by cancer.

Approximately 70 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each week in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Wolf told KOIN 6 News the disease runs in her family.

“I went in for my annual mammogram and they called me and said, ‘something looks funny,’” K103 co-host Janine Wolf said. “It’s that feeling of: this is it. I sort of just knew I had breast cancer.”

According to Susan G. Komen, yearly screenings can help doctors catch breast cancer early on. Screenings catch an estimated 85% of all breast cancers.

“My first thought was, I could die,” Wolf said. “I had a lumpectomy and radiation, I did not have to do chemo. I’m extremely fortunate.”

Breast surgeon Dr. Cynthia Aks said she believes in combining treatments — like the ones Wolf received — with yoga therapy. The Legacy Health surgeon is also a yoga instructor and Reiki master who uses meditation.

“Treating a patient is not the same as healing a patient,” Dr. Aks explained.

According to Dr. Aks, eastern practices can help lessen the severity of fatigue and depression brought on by cancer. Practices like meditation can reportedly help improve a patient’s quality of life.

“Society just wants a quick fix,” Dr. Aks said. “They just want to take a pill to make it better, but it just doesn’t work that way long term.”


Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland already offers yoga classes. Dr. Aks said she’s currently working to become a certified instructor in Oregon.

Representatives with Susan G. Komen recommend women begin receiving mammograms every year once they turn 40.

“The relative survival rate at 5 years is 99%, but that drops to the low 70s if someone is diagnosed at a stage 1 or 2,” Maggie Klein with Susan G. Komen said. “If they’re diagnosed at stage 4, it drops to 24%, so it’s critical people are screened early to have an earlier stage diagnosis.”

Wolf said doctors discovered her cancer so early it was at stage 0. After 5 months of treatment she’s officially cancer free, but she still gets yearly mammograms and even MRI’s.

“Going in for those annual tests is so important, it’s paramount,” she said.

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