The Important Value of Female Relationships While in Recovery

Women unlike men connect with each other differently. They can provide a support system during the most difficult times of stress.  Women help each other.

There are many obstacles that face women with cancer, for example the lack of family support or performing daily activities. Reduced employability and earning capacity can create great stress. Surgeries or treatments can further complicate body image, thus resulting in feeling less attractive, and may even cause breakups. For women, one of the best thing they can do is nurture their relationships with their girlfriends or join support groups. Married men on the other hand are known to have better recovery times when ill.

Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos of Surviving Cancerland:The Psychic Aspects of Healing shared this commentary which was so tale telling. “On a physical level, quality “girlfriend time" helps to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter which combats depression and creates feelings of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. Rarely do men sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel in regards to certain things or how their personal lives are going. Men talk about their jobs, sports, cars, fishing, hunting, or golf but not their feelings?”

Women share from their souls with their sisters, mothers, and friends. Spending intimate time with a friend is as important to good health as jogging or working out at a gym. We tend to think when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, and when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time — not true. The truth is our failure to create and maintain quality relationships with others is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you spend time with a pal, just congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health!

Studies have shown time-and-time again recovery is faster and of higher quality when friendships are formed. Women with cancer are better able to deal with their disease when supported by others in similar situations. Women who take part in support groups believe that they can live healthier, happier lives if they spend time relating to others. Some maintain that the bonds formed between each other within the support groups help them feel emotionally stronger. They further state that sharing feelings and experiences within support groups help to reduce stress, fear, and anxiety which then helps to promote healing. Evidence suggests that support groups do improve quality of life for women with cancer.

Certain support groups may be led by survivors, group members, or trained professionals, and may include education, activity, behavioral training, and directed group interaction. Behavioral training may include yoga which helps muscle relaxation, proper breathing or meditation to reduce stress on the effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It may also include focusing on learning how to manage current concerns and situations People with cancer are often encouraged by health care professionals to seek support from groups of people who have direct or indirect experiences with the same type of cancer. These groups may vary widely in quality.  Don’t hesitate to explore different groups.

The Internet also provides support groups. Interacting with other women by sending and receiving messages via the Internet may be the only option for some women until they feel well enough to go outside the home. These sites are run by moderators in chat-rooms or on e-mail lists, while others are not moderated.

Women are such naturals when developing and nurturing loving supportive relationships, so embrace your girlfriends.  They also believe that when relatives and friends lend support, it is easier to deal with their health and social problems.  Let’s face it family and friends are very good for our health.

by Diana Ross, E-RYT 500, Certified KaliRay TriYoga

Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga



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