Mindfulness and awareness — these are the gifts one breast cancer survivor received from a Calgary-based research program.

Lynne Kenney, 71, was part of Dr. Michael Speca’s study that is measuring how breast cancer survivors respond to different stress reduction programs.

“Often emotions become more intensified after treatment is over,” said Speca, a clinical psychologist. “Issues that were in the background during treatment come up. Women may ask, ‘What does this mean for my life?’”

So far, more than 100 participants have been randomly assigned to one of three programs: a 12-week group therapy program, an eight-week mindfulness program, or a one-day coping-skills seminar.

Kenney, who was diagnosed at 67, completed the program in 2009.


Through meditation and yoga, Kenney became mindful of body tension and “black thoughts.” She also learned the power of deep breathing, which has helped her not only recover from cancer, but also the death of her husband in April. Currently, Speca is looking for 30 more survivors to become part of his Stress and Health in Breast Cancer Survivors Study.