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State of Mind and Healing
Even Cancer Has a Silver Lining
by Ruth Lerman, M.D., Robert Jarski, Ph.D. and Heather Rea, B.S.

A
uthor Dr. Bernie Siegel tells the story about rushing to Silver Linings helps women to adopt a post-treatment “veteran
the airport when the car he and his wife were driving survivor” state of mind. It is an eight week program originally
had a flat tire. The delay caused them to miss their developed for breast cancer survivors, but due to the success
flight—which crashed on takeoff. According to him, this event of the program and requests from those with other cancers, it
changed his state of mind about life’s apparent misfortunes. now welcomes women survivors of all types of cancer. Two
Like Dr. Siegel’s flat tire, even serious health challenges can hours per week are devoted to teaching new ways of living:
have a silver lining. meditation, yoga, mindful eating, listening and writing, and
Although some individuals challenged by cancer adopt a “vic-
tim” mentality, many others have found cancer to be a positive
turning point in their life. Rather than adopting a victim attitude,
these individuals progress to become veteran survivors. Vic-
tims feel helpless and hopeless but survivors persevere despite
hardship. Veteran survivors are mature and experienced. They
use their experiences to learn and grow. They make significant
life changes: enjoying each day more fully, achieving well-
ness, strengthening relationships, and adopting healthy habits.
Their lives are enhanced and may even be prolonged through
effective stress management, enhanced immune function and
improved quality of relationships.
For a woman with cancer, completing treatment can be almost
as difficult as going through it. The support of regular doctor
visits, the swirl of family and friends, the energy of actively the BrA method of breast self-awareness. A half-day weekend
treating the cancer--all fade away. Fears of cancer recurrence retreat/reunion provides participants the opportunity to deepen
may plague her. She needs to regain a sense of trust in the world their practice. Alumni of the program are also welcome to at-
and in her body--to find her new normal as a veteran survivor. tend all retreats, giving them the chance to be role models, to
Since 2005, the Silver Linings Cancer Wellness Program has catch up with classmates and re-invigorate their commitment
successfully helped women transition from patients undergoing to themselves. Up to 45 minutes of daily home practice helps
cancer treatment to whole, well human beings. the teachings take hold, allowing mindfulness to become a part
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