Horticultural Therapy and living with cancer
Being in the Garden for Breast Cancer Survivors
Kathy Helzlsouer, MD, director of the Prevention and Research Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, has long been recommending to breast cancer survivors that they get outdoors more.
For 30% to 40% of breast cancer survivors, persistent fatigue follows their treatment, says Helzlsouer. To help her patients learn how to manage this fatigue, Helzlsouer created “Be Well, Be Healthy,” a holistic program that includes tips not only on managing stress and improving diet and exercise patterns, but also on incorporating nature as part of the healing process.“Among the frustrations we saw in our patients,” Helzlsouer says, “was that they didn’t have the energy to garden, a favorite activity for many of them.”
For people who enjoy gardening, Helzlsouer prescribes getting back outside, even if it’s starting out with five minutes of weeding. People who aren’t gardening enthusiasts are advised to find a nearby park where they can take a walk, "commune with nature," and reap the mind-body results of a relaxing setting and physical exercise.