Klinikgatan 5, Lund University Hospital. Anyone living in Skåne and dealing with cancer, personally or through a friend or loved one, knows this is the address of the Oncology Department. The Cancer Department. This is where you get your tests, your diagnosis, your support group. This is where you get deathly ill from your chemotherapy, and, with the odds constantly improving, your life back. You don’t want to get to know this place. But if the Big C comes knocking, unwanted and unwelcome, then you are grateful that Sweden’s universal health care wants and welcomes you at Klinikgatan 5.
On September 27, I went to Klinikgatan 5 together with Anna, to visit her “Living with Cancer” support group. Together with three of her fellow cancer warriors and two group facilitators, I shared a gentle Hatha yoga class, with Yin and Restorative yoga influences. Anna was the driving force behind this yoga play date. Diagnosed over a year ago with a type of Sarcoma, she has found yoga extremely helpful as a complementary treatment during recovery from her initial surgery and during the still ongoing heavy chemo treatments. In her own words (which I translate from Swedish), yoga “…has been a significant element in my journey, helping me take command over my life as much as possible, enabling me to walk hand-in-hand with cancer instead of being dragged around by it, and tossed back and forth emotionally. It’s made me stronger and given me strategies for living with a life-threatening illness.” Breath techniques in particular have been helpful in dealing with anxiety, and these she has shared with one of her children, who also experiences relief from the stress of living with cancer.
This meeting also gave me an opportunity to share a research summary, Yoga Therapy during Cancer Treatment – with the group’s facilitators. I have been at a couple of gatherings of health care professionals where a speaker acknowledged how wonderful yoga was but expressed what a shame it was that there was no research to back it. And by the time I put together an intelligent rebuttal in a language which is not my mother tongue, everyone has moved on. But now, thanks to the research summaries provided by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), I can help spread the word in the language they speak: evidence.
So thank you, Anna, for your burning desire to share yoga. Thank you IAYT for the fantastic summaries! And thank you Klinikgatan 5 for being there when we need you.