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Mind-body center aids cancer patients, survivors

Wellness Within hosts fundraiser Oct. 8
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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When Shannon Maveety faced her second bout with cancer, she thought she could deal with the disease alone.

“I thought, ‘I’m a tough lady, I can do this,’” she said. “But I realized that cancer is bigger than one person.”

Her naturopathic doctor suggested that she needed to heal completely — not just physically, but emotionally. And her oncologist handed her a brochure for a place called Wellness Within.

This summer, Maveety participated in a six-week group therapy session that met for two hours a week at the Roseville center.

“With any disease, you still have to go through your life,” she said. “I have two kids, a house, a job. Those two hours gave me permission to turn these things off and for me to heal from the inside.”

Now, as she prepares for two more rounds of chemotherapy, Maveety meditates every morning and is mindful of what she eats and everything she does, she said.

Wellness Within launched a year ago to serve as a mind-body wellness center for cancer patients, survivors and families coping with the stress of the disease. Clients learn research-based healing therapies such as breathing, movement, drawing, biofeedback, meditation, journaling and guided imagery. All the services are free.

The center is located in a renovated house downtown, but founder Patti Brown says she is looking for a larger building that will accommodate all of the center’s offerings — group therapy, yoga, nutrition classes and more — under one roof.

The nonprofit organization is hosting the Crabby About Cancer fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 8, to start generating money for the lease of a bigger building.

About 20 years ago, Brown was working as a licensed psychotherapist in private practice when she developed an interest in mind-body therapy, which was considered “a little woo-woo,” she said.

“I didn’t allow myself to fully engage in that work the way my heart wanted to,” Brown said. “I became more and more aware. I walked the (cancer) journey a lot and I realized that was my calling.”

Two years ago, she began training through The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington D.C., after entering a new decade of her life and growing worried about running out of time. She decided to listen to her heart.

She invited like-minded people to a meeting and everyone attended. Today, those people comprise her team — a yoga instructor, physical therapists, holistic health counselor and organic gardening expert.

Brown leads group therapy. The two-hour session usually includes about eight people. She teaches a tool — such as meditation — to deal with anxiety, depression and other emotions and then they practice what they’ve learned. There is also a time for sharing.

“They feel they’re warriors together in this so that’s a really strong bond,” Brown said.

Brown says mind-body therapy relies on science. For instance, doctors know that when someone experiences stress, brain chemistry changes. Some people use medication to treat panic attacks. But a person can’t always pop a pill, which is why learning how to manage fight or flight tendencies is critical, she said.

Cancer survivor Lisa Morgan went through treatment in 2008. She joined group therapy at Wellness Within this summer.

“It’s a fabulous way for getting a connection and emotional support with people going through similar issues,” Morgan said. “(Cancer) is scary, the most horrific kind of journey you can be on.”

Since her diagnosis, she struggled with a racing mind and not being able to relax. She learned breathing tools that have helped.

“The common goal with everybody is they want the tools to cope better and they want to live,” Brown said. “Whatever time they have, they want to be present. They want their body and life back.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Crabby About Cancer
What:
Fundraiser for Wellness Within. An evening of food, music, silent auction and wine
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
Where: Folsom Lake Estates, 9125 Oak Leaf Way in Granite Bay
Cost: $200 per couple or $125 solo
Info: To purchase tickets, visit www.wellnesswithin.org or call Patti Brown at (916) 788-0333 or Susan Binon at (916) 899-0597