Advancing Quality Lung Cancer Survivorship in SC: Objective 2
Source: Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
Period: November 2016-18
Role: K. McDonnell, PI

Our project’s second objective is an evidence-based intervention that we are testing, Breathe Easier: A Mindful-based Cancer Recovery Program for Patients with Early Stage Lung Cancer and their Family Members. Breathe Easier is designed for two participants: survivors of lung cancer and their friend or family member (pairs that are also known as “dyads”). Breathe Easier has been adapted from Dr. Linda Carlson’s work with Mindfulness-based Cancer Recovery at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. 

Breathe Easier, Level I 

Each week there is a two-hour class consisting of breathing exercises, stress reduction meditations, gentle movements for beginner skill levels, and discussions designed to talk about issues important to survivors of lung cancer and their family members.  Two levels of the program are available, Level I and Level II, to further participant’s practice in standing and floor gentle movements as well as additional meditations.

The protocol is an outline of the program that provides instructors with a concise agenda for each weekly class session, as well as reinforcement of the themes and lessons of that class. The handbook is an 80-page, colorful booklet, structured into chapters that correspond to each week of the course, to further provide text and visual components for each lesson.

We have developed several tools for the Breathe Easier program to assist in both an effective participant learning experience as well as efficient teacher performance. These tools include (1) a level I and Level II protocol, (2) posters (3) a participant handbook, (4) an audio series, (5) a home assignment journal, and (6) a Breathe Easier mobile application (in development).

The audio series includes 10 audio files recorded specifically to accompany specific breathing exercises, sitting (Level I) and standing and floor (Level II) gentle movements, meditations, and course teachings that are given to each participant to be used in their home assignment journal. In addition to daily home logs, the home assignment journal also contains several activity charts that the participants fill out on a weekly basis to record their thoughts, moods, observations, and other relevant information. We have also begun the development of a Breathe Easier mobile application, which is currently in the prototype stage of development. It will serve as a way to deliver the program to survivors of lung cancer at home and worldwide.

                    Breathe Easier: Level II

We have completed four “Level I” sessions and one “Level II” sessions in the past year. We are excited that the participants are not only receptive to the program, but that our qualitative and preliminary quantitative data analysis is pointing in a similarly positive direction in regards to stress, fatigue, sleep, and overall experience. 

The feasibility of Breathe Easier is promising based upon our high attendance and retention rate, strong adherence to at home assignments, and 100% agreement among all participants in our acceptability questionnaire. The information learned from this project is projected to assist in the development of new services for men and women with lung cancer and their loved ones. As always, it is our goal to help survivors of lung cancer and their family members live longer and healthier lives.