Mind-set to thrive optimizes quality of life

Kaushal Nanavati, MD, leads meditation in the meditation room at the Upstate Cancer Center. In the back, from left, are medical students Megan Taggart and Alison Stedman and intern Amani Mike. (photo by Susan Kahn)

Kaushal Nanavati, MD, leads meditation in the meditation room at the Upstate Cancer Center. In the back, from left, are medical students Megan Taggart and Alison Stedman and intern Amani Mike. (photo by Susan Kahn)

BY AMBER SMITH

A cancer diagnosis can produce stress, no doubt. How a person responds to that stress impacts his or her quality of life.

Family medicine doctor Kaushal Nanavati, MD, is medical director of integrative therapy at Upstate. He reminds his patients who have cancer that no one is guaranteed to live another day, regardless of whether they have cancer.

“If we distress about the fact that we might not have a tomorrow, we’re missing out on the today,” he says“That sounds very simplistic, but when you live it, it shifts your thinking, and it shifts your biochemistry.”

A recent study from the National Human Genome Research Institute showed that social interaction during cancer treatment can affect a patient’s response to treatment. That finding does not surprise Nanavati.

He also believes a calm, nurturing treatment setting can have an impact and that being around people who exude positivity is beneficial — although neither have been proven scientifically.

What we do know is that people who are stressed or anxious trigger a stress response in their body that increases heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and muscle tension — conditions that can be detrimental if they become chronic.

Nanavati promotes a “core four” for wellness that consists of stress management, good nutrition, physical exercise and spiritual wellness. He’s liable to prescribe yoga, or meditation, along with conventional medical care. And he helps patients learn how to optimize their quality of life after they receive a diagnosis of cancer. He helps them believe they can not only survive, but thrive.

HealthLink on Air logoCancer Care magazine summer 2018 coverThis article appears in the summer 2018 issue of Cancer Care magazine. To hear Kaushal Nanavati, MD, discuss overall wellness in podcast/radio interviews, click here and here.

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