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RELAXATION IN CANCER Introduction Cancer is encroaching upon heart diseases status as the number one killer of Americans Nearly one million people are diagnosed each year with some type of cancer Heimlich 1990 and will undergo chemotherapy radiotherapy or a combination as an adjunct to surgery Many of these patients report experiencing debilitating side effects to these treatments Not only can the physical effects from the illness and the treatment be quite intense the emotional and psychological impact of fighting cancer can be equally as stressful Penfold 1996 states that many patients families andor caregivers may experience a degree of difficulty in accepting the diagnosis of cancer As a result unrealistic expectations about the patients functional abilities develop This situation creates the need for an occupational therapist to address problems relating to their social roles level of activity and coping skills Approximately one million people report pain both post operative and secondary to their medical condition McCormack 1988 Along with nausea and vomiting pain and fatigue impact patients quality of life and ability to cope with their illness Alleviation of the severity of the pain and fatigue therefore is of primary importance in increasing these patients quality of life It has been suggested that the use of relaxation and imagery techniques are important in reducing pain and fatigue as well as other chemotherapy and radiotherapy-induced side effects in cancer patients Arakawa 1997 Before discussing the relevant literature we will describe pertinent operational terms Kulich and Warfield 1985 define relaxation as a skill building process wherein the patient learns a series of deep breathing progressive muscle control and cognitive and imagery techniques p 117 Imagery is described as purposeful mental thoughts imagined to achieve a desired therapeutic Wallace 1987 p 81 References to side effects include pain fatigue depression and reactive nausea and vomiting In addition to reactive nausea and vomiting some patients may experience anticipatory nausea and
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