Guidelines for the massage therapist dealing with cancer patients - Part 1
During an exercise in a recreational acting class, I was selected to tell a personal story while the other class participants would each take on a character in the story and re-live it. I chose to share a story about a client of mine who passed away from breast cancer. Being a massage therapist and a survivor of breast cancer myself, this story came very close to my heart. As the actors began, they did an amazing job re-living parts of the story I had not even mentioned in my brief telling. Half way through, the teacher stopped the process, and asked if there was anyone there that had been struck by cancer. Out of the ten people in the room, four women, including me, raised their hands.
While it shouldn’t have surprised me, because I’m certainly not a stranger to the statistics as I lost my mother and a sister to breast cancer, it still stunned me to see facts and figures become real people right in front of me.
Breast cancer is not something that is happening somewhere else. It’s right here. It’s the woman you are standing next to at the grocery checkout line; it’s the lady showering next to you at the locker room; or a woman you just passed by on the hiking trail.
During my diagnosis, one element arose that took me by surprise. I felt extremely lonely. Not physically, because I had plenty of support from friends and family, but I was lonely. Lonely in making tough crucial decisions that no one else could have made for me. I was overwhelmed, emotionally drained and exhausted. I wanted someone to scoop me in their arms and literally carry me through this. Not possible. But what was possible was finding refuge, one hour at a time, by receiving loving, nurturing and healing bodywork. That gave me the strength to carry on, to stay centered and focused on the next baby step. And I am grateful for that.
A diagnosis of breast cancer almost always brings up torturous questions; What did I do wrong? What did I not do enough? What part of my life am I not living? Even though men are also susceptible to breast cancer breast cancer, the majority of people who are affected by the disease are women, and often associated with the female stereotypes of taking care of others before your taking care of themselves, giving too much and not receiving enough.
This is exactly where Massage Therapy can be so empowering and a crucial part of the journey back to health. One nurturing massage goes a long way in giving back to all mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and girlfriends.
As a seasoned massage therapist and educator once recovered, I decided to focus my massage practice on providing women and men with a safe nurturing place to be. I also developed a continuing education seminar for massage therapists specifically about breast cancer so CMTs can become knowledgeable and confident in providing an appropriate, safe and effective massage for their clients
About the author:
Eeris Kallil Reg.CMT is an established massage therapist , healing-arts practitioner and a gifted instructor. She has been offering quality trainings since 1999 including nine years at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. As a survivor herself, Eeris is dedicated to helping women during the different stages of living with breast cancer and to teaching other massage therapist about breast cancer, safe massage techniques and guidelines for clients with breast cancer. She is the founder of NCBTMB approved seminar Massage Therapy Supports Healing from Breast Cancer and been teaching it since 2001. Eeris is a member of the Society for Oncology Massage www.s4om.org and has been in private practice for more than twenty years.
For the next NCBTMB approved seminar MTSHFBC (Massage Therapy Supports Healing from Breast Cancer) check her website www.bodyworkwisdom.com