Medical Minute 3-8: Cancer: Cure From the Outside-In

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Start with some water, toss in some sunshine, and add a quick stroll through the garden. That's the sweet spot for Emily Meoli.

"I think it's, it's a very peaceful activity."

After a breast cancer diagnosis three years ago followed by 18-months of chemo, Emily was lost.

"Chemo ended, my hair was growin' back, and I was like 'Okay - I wanna be me," said Emily Meoli.

Oddly - her green thumb gave her the green light to return to normal. Seems gardens, like this one at Mercy Medical Center, pack some special medicine.

"You're actually feeling well before you're diagnosed, and then - as part of the treatment - we make you feel pretty poorly," said Kathy Helzlsouer, M.D., Mercy Medical Center.

Getting a hand in the dirt can offset the rigors of treatment. A Mercy study finds a post-op gardening program boosted survivors' stamina by 40-percent. A nationwide study found more than 50-percent of patients use gardening as a form of outdoor therapy. And a pair of studies found female patients exposed to nature had less cancer-related anxiety and stress.

"The program is designed to give them tools that they can help themselves get to that point where they are getting better - they're back to where they should be."

Doctor Kathy Helzlsouer used an 8-week program to get Emily back on track. Her family, now one of the 91-million nationwide that get in the garden daily.

"You need to heal the whole person … healing is dealing with … the whole person."

Three years after diagnosis, the benefits are obvious.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,

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