Pfizer Deutschland Countering Cancer, Reports from the Frontline, 1/16

Cultivating a Posture of Healing for Women During Breast Cancer Treatment

The Kurfürstendamm of Berlin is a busy and lively area of Berlin, but in a side street, breast cancer patients can find a place of quiet and healing. Here, Cape is dedicated to providing women a partner for psychological well being during breast cancer treatment. In neutral tones and lighting, the rooms are designed to sooth and comfort; feelings of illness are lessened, simply by entering.

Breast cancer patients today have the benefit of many medical treatment options, yet often lack psychological support, including help in decision-making. As therapist specializing in Gestalt Therapy and Psycho-Oncology, Rita Mergener has worked with women in Germany for over 20 years. When a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, Rita saw the great need for adjuvant psychological therapy and support. “In one moment, my friend’s world was shattered, and she was devastated,” reports Rita. “It was then that I made it my mission to see that breast cancer patients can receive support easily and learn to integrate their disease into their life. This is very important so that patients become active participants in their own healing process.”

Together Rita and her husband, Jens Schneider-Mergener, founded the Kusala Foundation in 2009. Their focus is supporting research on the relationship between mental and physical health, and quality of life. Cape followed in 2011, a project focusing on breast cancer patients who are undergoing treatment. Both the Foundation and Cape endeavor to bring their findings to the broader public.

Cape patients can meet with Rita for up to one year without any bureaucratic or financial hurdles. The sessions are without cost for the patients, with Rita donating her services. Most of the patients are referred to her from Breast Cancer Centers. “What is important is that the patient develops a their own posture of active healing, working with, and not against, the medical therapies. Patients learn how their disease is relevant for their life’s journey and how it is a catalyst for change and transformation.”

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