One of the least talked about, yet most common outcome of cancer treatment is Cancer Anorexia. Cancer Anorexia, to differ from the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa (where a person starves himself or herself) refers to the loss of appetite.
This loss of appetite, effecting people during the advanced stages of the illness result in extreme weight loss, malnutrition, loss of muscle mass and wasting. It further taxes the person physically of course but it also taxes the person mentally and emotionally.
Can Hypnosis Help?
There are some medical solutions to this challenge and it’s therefore imperative that patients and their families will be informed and educated about available treatment options. Having said that, there are also non medical solutions which aim to “awaken” patient’s appetite, strengthen their will to live and fortify their resolve to heal. One such solution is hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a safe and practical method to complement and enhance the efficacy of one’s medical treatment. It is most effective when it is a part of the treatment strategy and not an alternative to the medical care. Hypnosis in general engages patients mind i.e. their mental faculties such as outlook, attitude and beliefs. Employing one’s natural mental and emotional capacities through hypnosis to promote a desired outcome (in this case is appetite) requires no medication which means there are no adverse side effects. It means no recovery time or hospital stay and therefore patients can continue and enjoy a high level of quality of life.
In a nutshell, the hypnotic state is a state of focused attention where the person experiences heightened suggestibility. Suggestions (spoken words) can be given to remedy variety of possible contributors to the loss of appetite such as fear and anxiety.
What’s Really Important?
For me as a practitioner the number one priority is to help my client transcend his or her limited physical dimension of “appetite”. This means they must consider the act of eating, irrespective of the desire to eat, as part of their decision to live. This is really the bottom line; changing patient’s perspective of food and eating from a mere physical act to one inspired by their wish to live another day, week, month etc.
This is where hypnosis, as a therapeutic vehicle for change is of great benefit. It provides a practical way to address the thoughts and beliefs weakened by the physical suffering of illness. Thoughts and beliefs that insinuate that we do not have the innate resources to cope with this experience or that life, and this condition, is not worth living through.