By David Kenyon, JD, President, The Healing Arts Center
It started with a friend of ours who was in treatment for triple negative breast cancer. Dr. Elizabeth Stark had a PhD in chemistry, but worked venture capital deals for Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Beth fought cancer for eight years while raising two young daughters. In order to prolong her life, she participated in numerous clinic trials around the country to allow her daughters to get as old and as strong a possible before she left this world. Frequently, her cancer treatment, mostly chemotherapy, seemed to be harder on her mind and body than the disease itself.
In 2015, Beth decided to try receiving complimentary therapy at The Healing Arts Center. She underwent biocranial therapy with HAC’s Tom Tessereau as well as
traditional massage therapy, Reiki and Pranic Healing. On one particular occasion, Beth had just arrived home from Boston after having received an experimental chemotherapy treatment. She was exhausted and felt awful and she was struggling at home trying to deal with two daughters who were not coping well with their mother’s deteriorating health. Mentally she was in a state of despair. After her session with Tom, I met with Beth in the clinic waiting room. She was smiling and said, “this is amazing! I cannot feel my chemo!” It was a moment of awakening for all of us. As Beth came in for therapy every week, she grew stronger, and perhaps more importantly, she grew happier. Her stress was greatly diminished. She was no longer going home with compromised psychological resources with which to manage her home life. In fact, she continued working and it became difficult to tell that she was terminally ill. Beth treated in our massage therapy clinic for the next year and a half. When she went into palliative care at home toward the end of her life Tom, my wife Jane Quartel or myself would visit her weekly to provide care that emphasized Reiki and Pranic Healing.
It was through providing care for Beth that I realized how truly beneficial Reiki is to cancer patients. This is not a secret. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Reiki is offered as a regular treatment modality at Cancer Centers of America. Reiki is a non-manipulative process wherein the practitioner channels “ki”, the Japanese word for essential energy, but perhaps better understood as a flow of consciousness. The Reiki practitioner, after adopting a mental state of pure compassion, channels ki into the body of the client through specific points or “meridians” that roughly corresponding to the major neural pathways in the body. Reiki was developed by a Japanese Buddhist named Makao Usui, who coincidentally held a doctor of divinity. The practice is based on centuries of study in the art of energy and consciousness transfer that has evolved in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, though simplified and practical to fit our times.
Beth was a practicing Christian. She went to church every week. And every week she received a Reiki treatment, often from my wife, that that relieved her anxiety and allowed her to feel connected to the whole of life. Reiki gave her a way to focus her consciousness on happiness, compassion and well-being. This greatly reduced her sense of fear that frequently arose as she was compelled to considered her own mortality. She reported a sense of profound peace and ease. She was no longer fighting her own mind and cancer at the same time.
Three days before she died, Tom and I visited her at her home and while I gave her a Reiki treatment, Tom provided a Pranic Healing treatment. When we were finished, she got up off the treatment table and went downstairs and for the remainder of the afternoon visited with her extended family that had arrived from Kansas to see her. Aside from the oxygen tube that she wore, you would have had no idea that she was in the last week of her life. She was happy, vibrant, she was able to hold long and thoughtful conversations. Later that week, she died. Until the last day of her life, she was able to live life to the fullest. She told us frequently that the treatment she was receiving from HAC had greatly restored her ability to be present to her family and enjoy many happy days despite her illness. We became intimately aware that this was the one of the best things that anyone could do for people with cancer. We could help restore their most precious asset – quality of life.
We learned a lot from caring for Dr. Stark. We learned that quality of life is strong medicine and essential to the healing process generally. We learned that cancer patients benefit immensely from the intense sense of compassion that can be deeply rooted beneath ordinary verbal consciousness by using Reiki. Cancer patients, in particular, benefit from this profound experience of compassion. Cancer treatment often creates pain and discomfort that over time gives rise to intense stress and a fixation on mortality. This can be a highly destructive state of mind. This nagging sense of fear and anxiety puts stress on relationships at home and creates an environment sadness and woe that is unnecessary. We all need to feel alive, to love and feel whole. Cancer patients, in particular, feel their connection to joy and the world they love deeply threatened. While massage therapy will reduce tension and stress in the physical body, Reiki restores the whole of being. This provides a medicine that no drug or surgery can provide – a sense of well-being internally and being one with the current moment, the world and with life.
It was from our experience with Dr. Stark that we decided create the Free Cancer Clinic at The Healing Arts Center. Anyone who is currently in treatment for cancer can come and receive massage therapy and/or Reiki therapy for free. In order to receive massage therapy services we require that your oncologist give us permission provide care and provide us with any limitations that we need to know about to protect your health. Even if you cannot get permission from your oncologist for massage therapy, you can receive Reiki treatments without permission. To learn more about Reiki, visit the Reiki page on our website by CLICKING HERE. Our cancer clinic is open from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday afternoons and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday mornings. To make an appointment you can click on the link below or call us at (314) 647-8080.
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