Mary Lou Galantino, PT, MS, PhD, MSCE, a distinguished professor at Stockton University, has been conducting research and treating patients in cancer rehabilitation for more than 30 years.
Her passion for her work increased after she had her own experience with cancer.
“In 2001 while pregnant, I felt a lump in my breast, and while nothing showed up in the mammogram I was convinced something was wrong. It wasn’t until two years later that I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Dr. Galantino. “It was through my experience that I discovered what it was like to become a patient. The side effects of chemotherapy and my surgeries were very eye opening to me.”
Dr. Mary Lou Galantino
Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Dr. Galantino had been an NIH fellow at the University of Pennsylvania researching the impact of meditation and how the practice of meditation can help a range of populations, including cancer patients. “When I became a patient, I turned to meditation and yoga to help navigate treatment,” said Dr. Galantino. “What’s more remarkable is that since my diagnosis over 10 years ago – much has been unfolding about the benefits of mindfulness and yoga in terms of managing distress and meditation as an authentic, abiding presence.”
Not only has Dr. Galantino experienced cancer through the lens of a patient but she also experienced it by watching the journey her husband took when he was diagnosed with stage 3 head and neck cancer. “I had to learn to accept my husband’s decisions about his treatment – which were different from the choices I made—although it was quite difficult for me,” said Dr. Galantino.
Dr. Galantino has devoted her career to helping cancer patients, survivors and co-survivors. She helped establish an oncology rehabilitation program at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and now at Bacharach, where she currently serves as a consultant for the program.
In addition to supporting the development of Bacharach’s Oncology program, she will also be conducting a study in the summer/fall of 2018 at Bacharach focused on the effects of yoga and side effects of chemotherapy. While increases in cancer treatment and survivorship are promising, one negative impact of treatment is chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. This syndrome produces significant pain in hands and feet and is a common adverse effect of some chemotherapy. It can lead to cessation of treatment and severely affects individuals’ ability to walk, manipulate objects, and negatively impacts overall sleep and quality of life. Symptoms can remain years after treatment, together with reduced ability to walk, greater disability, and falls, and are further complicated by the aging process in cancer survivorship. This study will explore how yoga and mindfulness can impact survivors.