Massage, cancer and my view today


IMG_7041I am thrilled to be a massage therapist serving patients at City of Hope as well as in my private practice. First I get to meet some incredible individuals who are navigating life with such a distinct and humbling sense of courage and honesty in the midst of their cancer treatment, recovery and survivorship. That leaves quite an impression on me, every time and informs how I approach my work with all my clients, regardless of the stage of life or state of health they are in. I recognize how critical it is that we cherish who we are each day, in every way (the good and the bad) as we each have a unique take on this human thing!

Patients often arrive at their massage appointment very eager, as they may have booked their appointments 6 weeks to a couple months prior at the hospital. They often let out a sign of relief when we meet and begin talking. I learn all the time what my work does for others, they teach me about the benefits all the time. One young lady I met in 2009 shared her story with me and I came to know better the various forms of psychological and physical distress she’d endured without access to safe bodywork; the neuropathy that lingered in her hands and forearms, the weight and hair loss, ongoing GI distress, chronic fatigue and anxiety, poor sleep, hardened shoulders and increasing neck tension. She knew I was working with others going through cancer treatment and lamented saying “I wish I had known I could have been getting massage when I was going through treatment.” I heard her aching for the kind of care we can provide. I was sure if more therapists were out there, a vital part of the healthcare team, then some of these side effects from treatment as well as the emotional load could be eased and shared.

An oncology massage appointment is unique for me as a therapist since I am asked to consider and plan for very specific clinical concerns while at the exact same time sparking a natural desire to concentrate my heart and hands just on them and their well being. It’s very freeing and shows me how when at least 2 come together and concentrate to relieve suffering, a welcome shift often occurs! Clients come in physically and emotionally guarded and often traumatized, but with just a little conversation, laying down on the table, breathing fully and with time set aside just for them to be, no agenda and even a little open to receive therapeutic bodywork, they often find themselves softening up, allowing more compassion, ease and comfort into their frames. It’s amazing to see how they lighten up, visibly changed, smiling. The quality of their day, their sleep and outlook improves even after just one massage. It’s golden–the work, the coming together to make the experience of cancer a little better.

I look forward to providing safe, effective therapy in my private practice in Glendale and as part of the hospital staff at City of Hope in the future.

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