Guided imagery is a tool to help women cope while undergoing mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Guided imagery is a technique that enables you to see yourself in a place other than in which you are at the moment. This technique can be therapeutic, and minimize pain and discomfort during a difficult time.
Mollie Sugerman: Guided imagery is when you see yourself in a place other than in which you are at the moment. For example, being at a beach hearing the sounds of the ocean. Scenes that influence your general sense of tone and mood.
Breathing out through my mouth. The breathing techniques tend to improve your immune system, decrease your blood pressure, and can also bring you in to a greater state of calm.
Bonnie Owen: Being taught how to do that and kind of rehearsing it is pivotal at the moment in time when you're really the most frightened.
Mollie Sugarman: The sun is just rising.
Bonnie Owen: When I use these techniques I imagine myself kayaking. I'm an avid kayaker and actually kayaking for me is like my church in that I'm very connected to the spirituality. And no matter how bad I feel there's something good that I can focus on.
Mollie Sugarman: A patient would truly benefit from guided imagery and relaxation techniques, particularly with going through the process of mastectomy and breast reconstruction because at that time having all of the tools possible when they're feeling the most impotent, and feeling as if they've just been hit by a stun gun is crucial for them.
Bonnie Owen: Being coached in these techniques allowed me to let go of any control and just be able to listen to one other person, and allow them, and to trust them, because the illness, the surgeries, it's all about trusting the people that you elicit to help you.
Mollie Sugarman: The women who have experienced and practiced the guided imagery techniques really report to me that they have greater ease with anesthesia. I had one woman who reported to me I didn't take any pain medication. I was able, I saw the ocean the entire time. I heard the waves. I was able to put myself in a place beyond the discomfort, and beyond and in a place of restoration.
Bonnie Owen: I believe so strongly in the therapeutic value of guided meditation and relaxation techniques that I recommend them to anybody. You learn the techniques and then you're able to just carry them with you wherever you are, whether you're stuck in a car, or in a kayak, or waiting for surgery. Sometimes I use it for the benefit of the doctor. I imagine them having a great day before the night before my surgery.