Wellness

Patients who have had treatment for breast cancer may experience such problems as decreased strength and stamina, pain, fatigue, decreased ability to function, lymphedema, anxiety and depression, difficulty coping, self-image changes, and work-related issues. Often patients with breast cancer experience a new perspective on life and seek to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. A healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, a healthy body weight, and keeping stress in balance are four key components of breast cancer recovery and long-term wellness.

Margie Pettersen Breast Center sign with women in front of it

Breast Wellness Program

Patients who are at higher risk of breast cancer due to family history or an identified change in an inherited gene, may also have concerns that generate lifestyle changes to improve health. A healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, a healthy body weight, and keeping stress in balance are also key components of long-term breast wellness for this group of patients.

The Breast Wellness Program encompasses a broad range of services to help with your care. These services include nutritional counseling, yoga, mindfulness/stress reduction sessions, and HeartMath. Our goal is to support your healing in body, mind, and spirit.  Part of the Breast Center, the Willow Sage Sanctuary provides a space for respite—to have quiet and experience mindfulness and other stress reduction programs to support your healing. The Breast Health Programs were created with the generous support of Alecia Moore, better known as P!NK, who began supporting the Breast Center in 2012. The Willow Sage Sanctuary was named in honor of her daughter.

Willow Sage Sanctuary

Nutrition Services

Complementary consultation with a master’s prepared registered dietitian, also referred to as a nutritionist, is offered to each of our breast patients, whether at high risk or with a diagnosis of breast cancer. The nutritionist will set nutrition goals with and tailored to the patient’s healthcare needs and preferences. The intention is to work toward nutritional approaches that support long-term wellness. Our patients who want to continue to see the nutritionist and whose insurance does not cover the service, can do so at a reduced cash price. Local grocery shopping tours and nutritional classes are also offered on a regular basis.

Mother, daughter, and grandmother in the kitchen

Yoga

Yoga, as a mind and body practice, combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and fatigue, and help with sleep. Free classes of restorative yoga are offered throughout the year to our patients.

  • The yoga class for men or women with cancer is available on Fridays, from 11-noon on the first floor of the main hospital. No RSVP is required. Arrive early to sign a waiver of liability, which is required for the first class.
  • For more information, contact Joseph Greenberg, LCSW, at 310-829-8542 or Caroline Sarafin, MSW, at 310-829-8544.

Mindfulness/Meditation/Stress Reduction

A regular meditation practice has been shown to restore self-healing and reduce stress. Mindfulness is a significant component of most meditation and it is possible to learn simple ways to integrate this in everyday living. Guided imagery, structured breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation are additional ways to ease the body and mind, especially when someone is anxious, scattered, or sad. Complementary 30-60 minute sessions are offered to our patients.

HeartMath®

Research shows that emotions associated with stress are reflected in the heart’s rhythms, also known as heart rate variability, or HRV. By measuring HRV we get a picture of the dynamics of the nervous system. When one is stressed, even though the person does not feel it, the HRV is irregular, or less ‘coherent.’ When one is calm, focused on more positive emotions, the heart’s rhythms and nervous system are in harmony, or ‘coherent.’ The HeartMath program is designed to introduce patients to tools and techniques for increasing HRV, or coherence. Individual or group classes are offered.

Cancer Rehabilitation Services

Providence Saint John’s Health Center Performance Therapy offers evaluations before surgery for mobility and lymphedema education, as well as therapy and treatment after surgery, to help women regain full function and strength if there are limitations. Specially trained physical therapists are available to treat lymphedema. For more information call 310-223-6746.

Counseling and Psychiatric Services

The diagnosis of breast cancer, or learning one is at high risk for breast cancer, is a life changing experience for our patients and their loved ones, affecting many areas of one’s life. Counseling and psychiatric services are available to help our patients and family with such concerns as:

  • Coping and adjustment strategies
  • Emotional support
  • Anxiety and depression management
  • Self- and body-image concerns
  • Marital or child concerns
  • Loss and grief counseling

Various therapeutic techniques are utilized in counseling to provide support, including but not limited to:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Problem solving therapy
  • Active use of stress reduction and relaxation skills

Individual or family counseling sessions are also available for children and adolescents who have a family member being treated for cancer. The goal of these sessions is to facilitate more open communication and understanding within the family regarding how cancer is impacting children and the family system. Developmental aspects of stress are addressed and new coping skills are offered and practiced.

Cancer Related Financial Resource Information

Our social workers are knowledgeable about grants available to help our patients with the financial burdens of going through cancer treatment. Some of these grants include partial support for medications, housing, food, transportation, and counseling. Financial Counselors may also be contacted for specific assistance.

Neurocognitive Services

Changes in memory, concentration or thinking following cancer treatment are common symptoms reported by cancer survivors. This change in cognitive function has been called “chemobrain” or “chemofog”. Many of these difficulties improve over time after finishing treatment. A neurocognitive assessment from a psychologist specializing in neuropsychology, the assessment and diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction and brain-behavior disorders, is available by consultation. We have specialized neuro-rehabilitation services available on referral depending upon our patient’s specific needs.

Spiritual Care Services

People facing illness often seek spiritual support. Evidence shows religious beliefs and spirituality enhance the body’s healing systems. At Providence Saint John’s Health Center, inter-religious chaplains are available to provide that support. While we are a Catholic organization, we truly believe in the importance of faith in healing and seek to serve the spiritual needs of all our patients. Whatever our patient’s beliefs, chaplains can help with spiritual and ethical questions. Our chaplains have received advanced education, training and national board certification. They serve as members of the health care team, complementing the healing work of physicians, nurses, therapists, and other health care professionals. Spiritual and emotional support, including chaplaincy services, is available for all cancer patients and their families 24 hours a day. The Chapel on the 4th floor is open to all. A meditation room is available to all on the 1st floor of the hospital. Catholic Mass and sacraments are offered daily at noon in the Chapel.

Appearance and Cancer Program

Patients who need resources for hair, wigs, scarves, and other head coverings will discuss this with their nurse navigator.

Other Support Services

The Cancer Support Community, Los Angeles, offers several breast cancer specific support groups, educational workshops with lunch, as well as healthy lifestyle classes including yoga, mindfulness meditation, and T’ai Chi. All of the Cancer Support Community programs are free of charge. Other communities are located in Pasadena, Woodland Hills, and Redondo Beach.

WeSPARK, based in Sherman Oaks, offers free support groups, integrative therapies and educational programs to those who have been affected by cancer. For more information click here: https://wespark.org/

Caregiver Support Group

  • In collaboration with the Cancer Support Community, we offer a Patient and Caregiver Support Group for anyone affected by cancer on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month, from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Breast Center. No RSVP is required.
  • For more information, contact Cheri Nassi, LMFT, at 310-314-2555, extension 2602.

Qi Gong

  • We also offer Qi Gong for anyone affected by cancer. These classes are held on Mondays from 6:30-7:30pm in Radiation Oncology. No RSVP is required.
  • For more information, contact Ana Rocha, RN, NP at 310-829-8621.

Palliative Care

Palliative care, also known as supportive care, helps patients with a serious medical condition, and their families, optimize quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating symptoms and stress. A team of healthcare professionals (physician, nurse practitioner, social worker, spiritual care) works together to help our patients who need these services to improve their ability to tolerate medical treatments, improve their quality of life by managing symptoms, and understand better their choices.