Students in Cancer Clinic Training listen to Connie Smith share about her experience with breast cancer and how receiving massage and Reiki in the clinic provided her relief, calm, and a sense of well-being.
Ms. Smith has been coming to the Healing Arts Center’s cancer clinic since she started receiving treatment for breast cancer in 2016. She shared with the students in the Cancer Clinic Training about how restorative it was to come to the clinic and feel cared for and nurtured in contrast to her experience of beginning cancer treatment at the hospital. Connie provides a personal perspective in the training for students to understand what cancer clients are going through and the difference that the Cancer Clinic makes. Contributing to the student’s training is only one of the ways in which Connie has demonstrated her commitment to the clinic. She has become a very energetic advocate for Cancer Clinic because of the unique care that it provides for people dealing with the effects of cancer treatment, chemo, radiation, surgery.
While modern medicine is still trying to figure out how to cure cancer, some of the treatments that are being offered create additional harm to the cancer patient. Much of allopathic cancer treatment is about attacking cancer whereas the holistic approach to cancer care seeks to build up the body and mind of a cancer patient to put them in the best possible position to allow the body use its own powerful ability to heal itself. The Healing Arts Center Cancer Clinic was founded on two principles. First, every action is made to restore a cancer patient's quality of life by reducing their experience of stress and anxiety, restoring their joy of living, while focusing their mind, body and spirit on wholeness and health. Second, clinicians are trained to help align the patient's natural ability to cause health in themselves in order to maximize the body's own healing power. The relief of stress alone can have a dramatic impact on health outcomes for a great many diseases, including cancer.
Over the years, HAC has found that therapeutic touch and energy medicine have powerful effects on the mind and body connection that is the natural source of wholeness and health. Allopathic medicine tends to take a mechanical approach to disease that often overlooks the role of the mind and consciousness in the healing process. Everyone knows from personal experience that a negative attitude, sadness and depression make injuries and illness worse and compromise the healing process. Anyone who has nursed a child back to health knows that half the battle is in how that child perceives his or her condition. People who dwell on pain and sickness tend to empower it. Conversely, by removing stressors, such as pain, nausea, sadness and despair, the body becomes more powerful and uses this power to create health. By providing this kind of holistic care to cancer patients, HAC can offer a complimentary therapeutic approach to assist traditional medical approaches and to put the patient in the best possible position to heal.
During the training, Connie spoke to the students about what it is like from the cancer patient's perspective, sharing her personal experience of coping with being diagnosed with cancer and beginning drastic traditional medical treatments that can often make a cancer patient feel much worse. She told the class that from the time she came to The Healing Arts Center for her first appointment in the Cancer Clinic, she felt truly cared for, and treated as a whole person. During an appointment, clients receive a light-touch massage and Reiki treatments that clients frequently report to ease or relieve their nausea, anxiety, and pain. HAC's Cancer Clinic schedules appointments on Monday afternoons, and every other Wednesday morning. To receive free treatment in the clinic, clients must meet the following criteria:
Reiki is an energy medicine technique that was developed in Japan about a century ago. It is a simple and soothing practice that involves light touch and the compassionate and healing intention of the practitioner to empower consciousness itself to cause healing. Reiki is being used in a variety of medical applications. For example, Reiki is offered as treatment modality by Cancer Centers of America and as a treatment for post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) at some Veteran's Administration Hospitals. It is also used in some hospitals to treat drug addiction and eating disorders.
While stress reduction and compassionate touch is vital for everyone, it is especially important for cancer clients, who experience stress on all levels of their being – body and mind. Reiki is for anyone, and the Healing Arts Center offers Reiki classes regularly. An introductory course, Reiki One, is scheduled for April and there are still spots remaining. If there is a Reiki practitioner in every home, everyone would have access to this simple and effective healing technique.
HAC's Free Cancer Clinic was inspired by Elizabeth "Beth" Stark, a client who battled triple negative breast cancer for eight years. Beth worked for Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical company, and was responsible for creating funding deals for new drugs being developed by that company. During her long fight with cancer, she enrolled in a variety of experimental treatments around the country, most of which involved chemotherapy, which left her feeling worse than she felt from the cancer. To make matters worse, as her strength and energy diminished from these treatments, her ability to care for her family became compromised. Her two teenage daughters naturally began to react to the stress of having a critically ill mother and her home life began to deteriorate. Beth began treatment in Boston and was required to fly to that city every few weeks for experimental chemotherapy. She would return home utterly exhausted. A friend of hers suggested that she visit The Healing Arts Center and she began to receive care from HAC headmaster, Tom Tessereau. After her first visit to HAC, Beth emerged from her session and reported to HAC president, Dave Kenyon, a long time family friend, that "I can't feel my chemo!"
This was the beginning a very unique clinic. Shortly after the HAC Free Cancer Clinic opened, cancer patients started to request care who were being treated by Cancer Centers of America, Missouri Baptist Hospital and Siteman Cancer Clinic to name a few. The oncologists directing care for these patients began authorizing this complimentary care and the HAC therapeutic staff started working with them to manage any limitations or special concerns that arose on a case-by-case basis. Eventually, Connie Smith found her way to the clinic and has been an advocate for the clinic ever since.
A new group of cancer clinic clinicians have been trained in the recent weeks, and with the start of the Spring 2018 session, they will be starting their rotation in the HAC Cancer Clinic, touching the lives of people who seek healing from the damage that cancer can cause, not only to their bodies, but their minds and spirits as well.
HAC becomes a place for clients to come and be treated humanely and compassionately. Building a supportive community matters to us at the Healing Arts Center. We have started hosting wellness gatherings for cancer clients and their caretakers and family. We will host a caretaker appreciation day in April and wellness events in the following months, focusing on wellness practices for self-care as well as to share with others.
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