Breast Cancer Support Group heads Haum for meditation session
The women’s breast cancer support group facilitated by Parkite Deb DeKoff, a survivor and research advocate for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, is going through some changes.
The group, which is open to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, are undergoing treatment or have survived the disease, will now meet every last Wednesday of the month.
This month’s session, which will run from 6-7 p.m. on March 27, will not meet at the Park City Hospital, where the sessions have typically been held. The group will gather instead at Haum Meditation, 1500 Kearns Blvd.
“Deb reached out to us a month ago, right after we opened,” said Casey Sowul, who co-founded Haum with Cindy Hallows. “We discussed the idea to introduce meditation and mindfulness to her support group because it benefits anyone who is going through any kind of trauma, stressful situation or acute or chronic illnesses.”
The reason DeKoff wanted to host a breast cancer support group at Haum because of the benefits of meditation, said Sowul, who is Haum’s outreach coordinator.
“Meditation is scientifically proven to increase focus, decrease stress and anxiety levels while enhancing mindfulness,” she said. “There isn’t a right and wrong way to meditate, and you don’t have to have any kind of experience level to enjoy the benefits of meditation.”
The session will be led by Hallows, Haum’s lead meditation and yoga guide, Sowul said.
“With Cindy’s background, we thought it would be a good idea for her to meet with the group and introduce the members to techniques that could help them overcome stressful situations in their lives,” she said.
Hallows is certified in several meditation and yoga traditions, including mindful-based stress reduction and Zen Buddhism.
“There are thousands of different ways we can incorporate the various disciplines such as compassion-focused, intention-setting and goal-setting meditation, into our lives,” she said. “I show people ways they can tap into that innate wisdom that we all carry to help create a little more self-care for the body. And that boosts the deeper level of healing from within.”
Mindfulness and meditation helps individuals bring positive energy into their lives, according to Hallows.
“When we become aware of that, we tend to create lifestyles that are healthier for ourselves,” she said. “That, in turn, helps us create more healthy communities.”
Wednesday’s session will start with what Hallows calls a “check-in.”
“We will take a moment to check in to evaluate our energy levels and acknowledge acceptance where we are at that time,” she said. “We will listen to our bodies, mental capacities and emotions, and let everyone know we can freely communicate with each other and ourselves in this safe place.”
That exercise will help the group find coping skills needed to move forward, and create a community of support, Hallows said.
“From there, we try to create a mindfulness and meditation practice that can benefit everybody in the room,” she said.
One goal of the session will be to give the group members a chance to reclaim their identities, Sowul said.
“After most people are diagnosed with the disease, they don’t feel themselves, and they start looking at themselves as patients,” she said. “Mindfulness and meditation allows them to be introspective and gives them a chance to find that they are still the same people who are only fighting new battles.”
DeKoff, who was recently accepted as a Susan G. Komen Advocate in Science, which will works to improve the lives of breast cancer survivors, said the group doesn’t really discuss the word cancer.
“It’s just the common thread that binds us together,” she said. “(With this session), I seek to help heal the body and the mind with educational information.”
Haum Meditation has room for 12 to 15 people, but can expand the space to accommodate up to 20 people, according to Sowul.
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