Sylvester Expert Offers Tips to Reduce Stress After Cancer

Frank Penedo, Ph.D., is the Director of Survivorship and Supportive Care at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. For more information on support services available, click here or call (305) 243-3329. You can also visit the UHealth Collective.

MEET JULIO MONSALVE:

After surviving prostate cancer, Julio Monsalve still had fears about the future.

“I was thinking about my kids and my family,” says Julio.

Frank Penedo, Ph.D., Director of Survivorship and Supportive Care at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System, says cancer survivors face unique challenges.

“An individual is considered a survivor from the day of diagnosis,” Dr. Penedo says. “There’s an emotional toll that cancer takes on people. We know from the research that about a third of our cancer patients and survivors have clinically elevated levels of anxiety or depression or both.”

Sylvester’s NCI-designation allows patients access to studies like the one Julio enrolled in to better manage stress. The study used relaxation techniques such as journaling and meditation to help reduce stress.

“With the skills that we provide them through these groups that have been tested through NIH-funded studies, we can help them buffer the effects of stress on emotional wellbeing, social functioning, and to some extent, physiology,” says Dr. Penedo.

Julio said it worked so well that he’s sharing what he learned with other cancer survivors and encouraging all men to get their prostate screenings.

“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid,” Julio says. “When you got family, you have to think about your health.”

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Sylvester’s ongoing research has led to survivorship and supportive care programs benefitting the whole patient.

“For more than 30 years, scientists here at Sylvester have studied the effects of stress management across a variety of chronic conditions. I’ve been privileged to be part of that group for many years. The studies have consistently documented our ability to improve quality of life and emotional wellbeing among cancer patients and survivors that participate in these studies,” says Dr. Penedo.

He says it’s critical for cancer survivors to keep these three things in mind.

“Acknowledge stress, do not become socially isolated, be social, and address your lifestyle, in general, physical activity and nutrition,” Dr. Penedo says.

“Go outside, just walk, swim, go to the gym. That will change your life after cancer,” Julio says.

Julio continues to share his cancer journey to inspire others and is grateful to the Sylvester team!

“It’s like they gave me back my life,” Julio says.

FOCUSING ON YOU

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