Breast Cancer Complementary Therapies Help Boost Treatment

Breast Cancer Complementary Therapies Help Boost Treatment

Women with breast cancer often have choices for medical treatment. If you're fighting breast cancer, your doctor will make a treatment plan. It might involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy. Along with questions about traditional treatments, ask your doctor about complementary therapies.

They don’t replace standard medical care, but can help boost your mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Here are a few ideas to explore.

Therapy Groups Offer Social Support

Connecting with women who are battling the disease lets you know you’re not alone. It can help to talk with others in treatment and recovery. For some women, these groups offer a place to bond over treatment. Others join to share an interest or hobby — or find a workout buddy.

Exercise Helps Recovery

Studies show exercise during and after breast cancer treatment lowers fatigue, stress and depression. It may also help fend off cancer’s return. The National Foundation for Cancer Research leaving site icon says exercise lowers estrogen and insulin levels. Both hormones are linked to breast cancer.

Exercise also reduces inflammation and strengthen the immune system. It can also help you sleep better and slow weight gain — a common side effect of treatment. 

New Challenges Inspire Strength

Recovery on Water (ROWleaving site icon is  a Chicago-based rowing club has a team for breast cancer patients and survivors. Being part of the rowing team helps members feel better and builds strength.

Community Nurtures Mind and Body

Gilda’s Club Chicago was inspired by one of Saturday Night Live’s most famous alums — Gilda Radner. In honor of her battle with breast cancer, the club offers cancer patients free activities to nurture the mind, body and spirit.

The club offers virtual and in-person workshops, support groups and more than 180 programs each month. leaving site icon Want to give tai-chi or yoga a try? Think meditation might help tame your stress? You’ll find many choices.

Complementary therapies can play a big role in mastering mind over matter. Taking part in proactive activities helps boost a positive outlook. Positive thinking nurtures resilience to help carry you through treatment. Just as important, they offer a much-needed break. In fact, they may not seem like therapy at all, and can add a welcome dose of “normal” to your day.

Have you tried any complementary therapies? We'd like to hear about your journey

Sources: Cancer Prevention: Which Type of Exercise Lowers Your Risk, leaving site icon  National Foundation for Cancer Research, 2019; Physical Activity and the Person with Cancer, leaving site icon  American Cancer Society, 2022

Originally published 10/19/2015; Revised 2019, 2022, 2024