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Integr Med. 2000 Mar 21;2(2):115-126.

Uses of guided imagery for pain control by african-american and white women with metastatic breast cancer.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA


Understanding the meanings patients attach to their experiences can help clinicians and researchers to more adequately address a patient's experience with cancer pain. Indeed, many patients seem to desire to and benefit from attaching meaning to the disease and its treatment. In particular, many patients are drawn to guided imagery as a tool in the management of cancer-related anxiety and pain. Using excerpts from African-American and White women's breast cancer narratives, we show that breast cancer survivors use guided imagery as a vehicle for reconnecting to the self, to make sense of their experiences with breast cancer, and as a tool for managing cancer pain. Cancer pain increases the disruption in the connection between the body and the mind that is already part of the illness experience. Guided imagery can be regarded as one response to this problem, and may be understood as an attempt to reconnect mind and body in a manner that increases the sense of control, thereby alleviating the suffering of the survivor.

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