You will have to deal with many issues as you go through your cancer journey and treatment. There are many potential losses: loss of hair, focus, memory, balance, energy, appetite and even one’s dignity. Tai chi was instrumental in helping one of my favorite students, Betty, with many of these problems.
While tai chi can't make your hair grow back faster, it can help with most of the side effects of cancer treatment, including:
- Cognitive problems. Many people going through cancer treatment experience memory and focus problems (often called chemo brain). Studies show that tai chi boosts memory and mental focus.
- Balance problems. Balance was a big issue for my student Betty. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list tai chi as an evidence-based practice for fall prevention.
- Bone loss. Doctors now recognize that chemotherapy treatment can cause bone loss. Tai chi is a low impact, weight-bearing exercise. This means it can strengthen your bones safely without the risk of bone fractures.
Perhaps the best way to understand how tai chi can help cancer patients is to read Betty's testimonial. Betty says:
“I have seen my energy level return faster than other members of my support group who were not participating in tai chi. My hair grew back in on its own. My appetite has increased on its own.
However, I strongly believe that my memory, ability to focus, balance and energy level would not be where they are today if it were not for my practice of tai chi. It has been great having a helping hand along for my journey back to health.”
The Christ Hospital Health Network offers free tai chi classes for those impacted by cancer. Classes take place every Tuesday at noon in The Christ Hospital Cancer Center Activity Room on Level D of the main hospital (2139 Auburn Avenue). Registration is not required. Call 513-585-2023 with questions.