Therapeutic care through your diagnosis journey.
I first started massaging over 20 years ago and at that time, the absolute rule taught was to not touch people with cancer, ever. To the extent where by if the person had a primary breast cancer site, one could not even massage their hands or feet, professionally.
Back then the firm thought was that massaging would adversely influence the movement of cancer cells throughout the body, no matter where the cancer was or where you were subsequently massaging. Insurance companies that would not insure practitioners, spas or salons to treat people with cancer backed up this theory. This naturally fed back into creating quite a lot of fear around the notion of safe effective complimentary treatments in not only the community of people faced with this diagnosis, but the people best placed to care for and help them.
Thankfully as the years have passed, the research has moved on.
We (practitioners and the establishments geared toward relaxation, holistic health and grooming) are now encouraged to offer services to this ever growing community of folk in dire need of a wee bit of soothing attention, & the insurance companies have, in the main, followed suit. I have had the honour of witnessing this change first hand and now spend a good portion of my time offering treatments & yoga to people affected by cancer, & their caregivers, at any stage, not only in a salon environment, but also in hospital and at a retreat in France.
Gratefully I have had no personal experience of hearing the words “you have cancer”, so if you are reading this and have had those words spoken to you, please forgive any omissions or glaring blunders, this passage of writing is simply my thoughts recorded, reflected experiences, from the vantage point of a holistic practitioner who has spent well over 10 years within this special community.
To me it seems, pretty much without fail, that the moment people choose to share that they have had cancer discovered within their body, that it is not only their own shock and trauma they’ve to navigate, but that of the audience listening to the news. Which, for the person with the cancer, becomes increasingly difficult to bear, on top of already being more distressed than they may ever have been in their life before, there’s the added pressure of comforting family, loved ones and colleagues.
I see my role, no matter where the person is on their journey with this dis-ease, as one of facilitating a de-stressing moment & allowing for an unburdening through listening to their story so far and assisting a sense of ease to return to them. This may be through a gentle yoga session, an aromatherapy massage, a meditation lesson or a Dr. Hauschka Facial. I also guide people around their surgical scars and help to rehabilitate the manipulated tissue and musculature with the deeper emotions that can be trapped in these areas. I aim to create a nurturing, peaceful, empowered experience and encourage these feelings and the ideas to follow on at home.
It is very humbling to work with such a community of people. To be invited into a space with their friends and family, this more in the hospital or retreat setting than at Shine, but regardless, being able to offer at a time of great stress and pressure, a way out of the hurly burly of diagnosis, of treatment regimens, of being signed off after completing treatments “and then what”, somehow managing a terminal situation, or simply taking a step away from the medical team, and sharing a quiet, comforting space, in the knowledge that this really does make a difference to their sense of wellbeing, for me is magical.
It is a well studied fact now that massage reduces stress, reduces pain and reduces anxiety, which leads to improved sleep, improved circulation and an improved ability to calm one’s self.
Yoga too, very similar benefits all round, as has meditation. So it would follow that at a point when one is struggling the most with life, either just being in it post treatment, keeping it together during treatment, or finding the grace to let it go if that is the path ahead, that these services can be of most benefit. And not just to the person with the dis-ease but also for those around this soul who are there picking up the pieces of daily life, hospital visits, sleepless nights, family obligations & responsibility, working through it all to bring in an income, cooking, cleaning and slowly becoming more and more exhausted, for them too, these services are very important.
I feel incredibly strongly about continuing to get the message out there about safe and effective treatment being possible during a cancer journey, because I know the look of calm bliss on people’s faces no matter if it is the person with the illness, or a loved one supporting this person, and that look is priceless, I can only imagine how it must feel…