This summer, my team’s goal was to analyze the perceived impact of supplemental treatments on cancer patients. We chose to cover the following subtopics of “Yoga and Mindfulness”, “Spirituality”, “Healthy Living: Diet and Exercise”, “Support Systems” and “Cancer from an Outside Perspective”. We decided to divide the subtopics between the both of us so that we can thoroughly analyze each idea to the fullest extent. I can proudly say that we accomplished our goal by combining literary research with personal experience through the numerous unstructured interviews that we conducted with various patients and experts. This approach gave our readers a unique perspective on the information we gathered from the various databases.
Gathering general information about cancer and the different effects that the traditional treatments have on cancer patients was an essential stepping stone to our research. In order to create well thought out questions to ask our interviewees, we did the majority of our literary research prior to the interview. We utilized reputable sources that have been published within the past few years because we realized that research constantly changes on a daily basis, especially when it comes to cancer care. Knowing information beforehand gave us an opportunity to come up with clever questions to follow up on during the conversations we had with our interviewees’. We chose this methodology because it allowed us to discover more information about each topic and really allows us to interpret how various factors affect cancer patients.
From my experience, I’ve learned so much unexpected information from the unstructured interviews that I conducted in-person. For example, when I analyzed the “Mindfulness and Yoga” subtopic, one of my interviewees stressed the significance of gut health. They explained that sustaining a healthy gut helps cancer patients heal quicker through intestinal exercises. This strengthens the core and helps maintain healthy intestines. I was shocked to discover the numerous benefits intestinal exercises had on various parts of the body, such as brain health, circulation, immune system, digestion, metabolism, balance and mood. These benefits come from the serotonin and dopamine that are released from the gut when someone practices these exercises. It allows cancer patients to feel relaxed and happy in times where they feel anxious and depressed at the time of their diagnosis or during their treatments.
Another interesting thing that I discovered was how much stress affects our bodies and how simple things such as breathing deeply could positively affect the human body. “Thinking that emotional, physical and mental health are different is an illusion, the illusion of separation is what makes us ill”. A yoga instructor said this to me during our interview, and they explained that if someone is trying to help their physical body by doing yoga during their traditional treatment, but they disregard other underlying issues at home or at work that causes them stress, the cancer does not heal correctly because they’re not working on healing their emotional body. This is all caused by the disconnect between the emotional and physical body. When we lead stressful lives, our breath involuntary becomes shallow and fresh air becomes restricted from descending down to the abdomen. As a result, this causes toxins to release a lot slower than it should and it delays fresh air from circulating through the body. This delay causes toxins to build up in fat tissue and organs which could start to limit blood flow. The unexpected information that I learned inspired me and opened new doors for me while doing research. I touched upon various points that I wouldn’t have looked into prior to my interviews and I am glad that I learned all of this information because I think they are extremely important facts that people should be aware of.
Mia and I decided to display our findings on Facebook, which is an extremely powerful social media tool. We wrote blog posts which dove deeper into our findings for each subtopic, and we did it in a way where it’s easy for people to grasp as much information as possible. We incorporated pictures, diagrams and quotes from reputable sources and from the amazing cancer survivors who were so open and honest about their experiences. Overall, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only did I learn a lot, but through the genuine conversations I’ve had with the survivors, yoga instructors and other professionals, I built lifelong friendships and connections that will last a lifetime.