Southfield cancer survivor credits guided imagery with reducing stress


After seven surgeries, 28 rounds of radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy, Laura Squillace credits her guided imagery CDs with reducing stress and keeping her on an even keel.

Two years ago, she had a routine mammogram. The results led to a breast biopsy.

The Southfield resident was told she had cancer, but her medical team could not identify the source. At the time, she recalled there were a lot of unanswered questions. Where is the cancer? What is the extent of the cancer? She got a second opinion three weeks later.

Explains Squillace, "The biopsy created a ton of anxiety."

In September 2011, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. In October, she underwent a double mastectomy.

The day of her surgery, Squillace's sister gave her one of Beaumont's guided imagery CDs. A few days later she played it.

"That CD changed everything. It put me in a quiet, peaceful place. It's helped me manage my stress. It's about mind and spirit," says Squillace.

Today, she's a huge believer in the benefits of guided imagery. She gives CDs to family, friends and co-workers. "I just don't think people know about guided imagery and the other types of integrative medicine treatments offered at Beaumont. I'm spreading the word."

Amazingly, she worked through all her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Squillace did not miss any work at her advertising agency position. Along with her guided imagery CDs from the Beaumont Integrative Medicine Program, she says being able to work also helped during her long recovery process.

Gail Elliott Patricolo, director, Integrative Medicine. Beaumont Health Systems says, "Guided imagery involves all five senses and is based on the understanding that the body and mind are connected, and the mind can influence the body."

Before she acquired guided imagery skills that calm and relax her, Squillace says, "I was the biggest fraidy cat."

Squillace's advice about guided imagery, "Have an open mind."

Adds Elliott Patricolo, "Guided imagery has been shown to be effective in reducing cancer-related pain, anxiety and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Along with prerecorded CDs, personalized guided imagery sessions are used to help patients cope with therapy and provide positive imagery of the future. These sessions reduce anxiety, promote health and instill hope."

When she's not working, Squillace makes jewelry and enjoys cooking. She's also takes time to give back. She's a mentor for the American Cancer Society's "Reach to Recovery" program and participates in their annual "Relay for Life" funding raising event.