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October 4, 2011

Mind-Body Skills Course for Cancer Patients Offered in Springfield

A free, six-week mind-body skills course is being offered in Springfield by Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University and St. John’s Hospital.

The course, “Coping with Cancer:  A Mind-Body Approach,” will meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on six Wednesdays: October 26; November 2, 9, 16, 30; and December 7.  All sessions will be held at Simmons Cancer Institute, 315 W. Carpenter St., Springfield.  Parking is available adjacent to the building.

The course is open to patients, survivors, caregivers and family members.  Cancer patients are welcome regardless of where they are being treated.

“The Coping with Cancer class is a great resource to help understand the mind-body connection and to learn new ways of managing stress and think healthy,” said Debra Alexander, who was a member of the initial class offered in the spring.  “The class helped me to gain an appreciation for finding the mindful awareness of the present moment while learning to let go, to relax my body and to quiet my mind.  At the same time, you learn to be in control and experience less stress in your life.”

The sessions will cover a variety of mind-body strategies including:  understanding the mind-body connection and stress; using relaxation skills that incorporate breathing techniques, stretching, meditation and imagery; working with thoughts to enhance health; harnessing the
energy of emotions as inner guides; and communicating needs effectively.

“Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is life-altering for both the cancer patient and their families,” said Linda Murphy, director of the Center for Living at St. John’s Hospital.  “A research study showed that cancer patients who participated in a mind-body based program reported a reduction in anxiety, depression and symptoms that are a result of stress.”

The course was organized by Murphy and Ellen Brotzman-DeSart, the education coordinator for the Side-by-Side program at Simmons Cancer Institute.

Registration is limited to 20 participants; eight is the minimum number for the class.  To register, call 217-545-0798 weekdays or email

The mission of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU is to serve the people of central and southern Illinois by addressing their present and future cancer care needs through education, research, patient care and community service.  Its website is