Program Helps Therapist Help Herself
By Ellen de Graffenreid
Laura DeLoye is a music therapist and a truly positive person. Her soft-spoken manner and ready laugh exude genuine warmth and interest in others. She was 35 when she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that is more common in younger women. She was treated at UNC and, as she went through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and recovery, she kept hearing about Get REAL & Heel.
“Early on in my treatment I heard about it from a co-worker, and then was also referred by Pam Baker in UNC’s Patient & Family Resource Center as well as Dr. Jan Halle, my radiation oncologist.”
DeLoye came to exercise workouts and also met with recreational therapist, Amber Alsobrooks, a recreational therapist and Get REAL & Heel employee who teaches mindfulness-based techniques through a program called HeartMath.
“Amber really helped me focus on my own healing,” she said. “As a therapist, I was thinking about how I could use the techniques to help my clients and she gently pointed out that this was a time to be focusing on myself. After all, it’s hard to help others without helping yourself first.”
“The entire Get REAL & Heel program provides structure for that kind of focus. It is an active support network without being a formal support group. I made friends with a circle of women who understood what I had been through and being diagnosed younger, this was particularly helpful. The mind set of people in the program is very forward-looking and the staff and students who work in the program are absolutely a stellar group of professionals.”
DeLoye has stayed connected with the program, volunteering her music therapy skills to lead drum circles with the participants and graduates. “I absolutely recommend the Get REAL & Heel program to any breast cancer survivor.”
DeLoye has begun training for the Tar Heel 10 Miler (her first ever such run!) continuing in the goals from Get REAL & Heel to thrive physically and emotionally after breast cancer treatment. To continue to heal.
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Ellen de Graffenreid is the Director of Communications and Marketing at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has served in leadership positions in academic and health care marketing for a decade. A former distance swimmer, she ran her first half-marathon in 2010.