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Mobile Site Offers Ready Access to Guided Meditation for Patients With Cancer

Online guided meditation may help patients with cancer cope with stress.
BY Beth Fand Incollingo
PUBLISHED December 19, 2016
The stress of having cancer can sometimes feel overwhelming, and patients may be anywhere when they experience a bad moment.

A new mobile website that offers guided meditations for people affected by cancer may help. The website, known as Kara (thisiskara.com), is optimized for phones and tablets; anyone, in any location, can use it for free through the Internet, without having to download or pay.

Launched Oct. 6, Kara features 12 meditations ranging in length from six to 30 minutes. They include meditations for the four core qualities whose initials give Kara its name — kindness, awareness, rest and allowing. The remaining eight tracks are designed to help allay specific difficult emotions or challenges that people with cancer experience regularly, such as feeling overwhelmed, afraid or angry, or being in pain or sleepless.

The website is a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Cancer Center Integrative Oncology Department and Mindfulness Everywhere, the U.K.-based company that created buddhify, a popular meditation app. The idea for Kara came from Lanie Francis, M.D., of UPMC, a buddhify user who envisioned a version of the app specifically for cancer patients, their caregivers and families. Francis approached Rohan Gunatillake, director of Mindfulness Everywhere, and began a collaboration.

“The philosophy behind Kara focuses on the idea that a patient has autonomy over his or her own mind and body, and that self-care is a fundamental part of wellness and good physical and mental health,” says Francis, a medical oncologist and program director for wellness and integrative oncology at UPMC. “Lack of control is a huge issue for people with cancer, and so is managing symptoms like pain, fatigue and anxiety. People are looking for tools beyond additional medications or more doctoring.”
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