Lessons from the Dying, Number 2: Deep Listening

Lessons from the Dying, Number 2: Deep Listening

Joe was fighting cancer. Despite aggressive treatments, he managed to be upbeat about his situation, and his family was there to care for him. Initially he refused my offer of palliative massage to his shoulders. When I asked him a second time I was met with, “Okay, that might be good today.”

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Lessons from the Dying: My First Memorable Lesson

Lessons from the Dying: My First Memorable Lesson

While End of Life Care may not always be physically demanding, the emotional and spiritual challenges can be overwhelming. My goal in offering these short segments is to engage your thinking about hospice massage and how it has influenced you.  This 4-week series, Lessons from the Dying, starts with My First Memorable Lesson. The next three weeks will include: Deep Listening, Keeping Relationships Current, and Honoring the Moment. 

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Bodywork in End of Life Care

Bodywork in End of Life Care

“What is it like to die?” She asked after I shared that I am a bodyworker who specializes in oncology massage and end of life care. “I don’t know. I haven’t died yet!” I quipped a bit off handed. This immediately generated a round of shared laughter. While this brief interaction was with a stranger at a mindfulness class many people will ask this question of family and caregivers as they are dying.

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My first hospice massage: my father-in-law's feet

My first hospice massage: my father-in-law's feet

I was in massage school in 2001 when my father-in-law was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, with metastases to the spine. He was having chronic back pain and went to get an MRI. They found a tumor wrapped around his nerve root. Ouch. The whole experience was one big ouch after another. And there wasn't much I could do -- I hadn't even completed my massage training yet. But I discovered pretty quickly that there was something invaluable that I could offer: foot rubs and shoulder squeezes.

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PTSD from the War on Cancer?

PTSD from the War on Cancer?

I recently attended an amazing mentorship class with Char Sundust. During the class we watched a lecture by Edward Tick, PhD. His work focuses on healing veterans with PTSD. It suddenly and profoundly hit me that all the words that were being used in the lecture to discuss warfare were also used in cancer treatment.

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Thank you from Meg to End of Life Care students

Thank you from Meg to End of Life Care students

Reflecting on my November classes,  the highlight for me was actually the 3-hour evening seminar for the North Cascade Massage Connection. Compassionate Care, the title of the program, gave an overview of some of the clinical considerations in oncology massage and an introduction to bodywork during end of life care. While the first half brought up many concerns and questions, our table time reminded us just how powerful gentle caring touch can be. 

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Transitions from Survivorship to Thrivership in Your Massage Practice

Transitions from Survivorship to Thrivership in Your Massage Practice

Our clients in their efforts to regain a sense of normalcy will forget or neglect to share with us that they have a history of cancer; or that they are receiving treatments. What are we to do when this information comes out while they are lying on our massage table? How do we respond?  Do we become overly concerned and begin to rethink our work, wondering if we may have harmed them in some way? Do we find ourselves overwhelmed with grief or pity for the person, which shifts the focus of the session away from our client and onto our self? Or, are we able to find a balance in being present with this new information and mindful of how we need to make accommodations to support their healing process? 

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