BENEFITING: HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre
ORGANIZER: HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre
HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre wrote -
Cancer had Kathryn living in a pressure cooker. There were constant reminders of the drain her cancer made on her. She felt the constant stress of getting to her appointments, to chemo, for bloodwork, and trying to live when all she realy wanted was to crawl into bed and stay there.
The pressure was a relentless drum of requirements. She went to treatment because she had to. She went to the doctor because she had to. She kept going to work because she couldn’t afford not to. Everyone she talked to wanted something from her: be better, act normal, not be sick.
Didn’t they realize that she wanted to be healthy even more than they wanted her to be healthy? Living in a constant state of high alert was exhausting her. She needed a way to relax, if only for a moment.
One day, when she was at the hospital, waiting during her chemo appointment, Kathryn picked up the HopeSpring guide. Initially, it was something to read, to distract herself with; after thinking it over, she thought if nothing else, she might be able to use the relaxation services.
Driving to the centre, she almost turned around and went home. She could feel her heart start to pound and her throat go dry. She worried that it would be another demand on her. Just one more chance to have strangers look at her and tell her she HAD to do something.
It wasn’t like that. It was very comfortable. She was invited in and welcomed warmly. When she asked about the relaxation therapies, they were happy to explain them but didn’t pressure her. While she was sitting there, another person came out of the treatment room with this relaxed smile, the reiki practitioner close behind her. She got to have a quick chat with Cindi, the practitioner. Kathryn set up an appointment for the following week. What could it hurt? She figured that all she had to lose was the feeling that her head was going to explode the next time she heard the word appointment. That had to be a good thing, right?
When she came back for her appointment, she was still feeling like she was on high alert. Her heart was racing as she parked her car. Shoulders tight, her purse clenched in her hands, she arrived at HopeSpring reception fighting with her inner voice that was telling her to run.
The volunteer greeted her warmly. Cindi came out and smiled when she saw Kathryn. “I’m so glad you’re willing to give this a try. Let’s see if we can help you relax.”
It was better that she had hoped, and not at all as she had feared. There was no pressure to talk. No pain during it. Nothing she had to defend herself against. In fact, Kathryn fell asleep during the last 15 minutes of her treatment.
It was an eye opening experience. The pressure she was facing on all sides — the expectations of the doctors, nurses, family, and coworkers disappeared. For an hour, Kathryn was out of the pressure cooker.
Kathryn kept coming back to HopeSpring for the relaxation treatments. She
tried reiki and therapeutic touch, and after confirming with her oncologist that it was okay, she tried one of the massage appointments. Now she’s exploring the meditation classes, learning tools that will help her take that oasis of calm she finds at HopeSpring with her when she leaves the building. She’s learning, at her own pace, how to get herself out of the pressure cooker and manage her own stress. She is moving on with her life.
Between 35 percent and 45 percent of all cancer patients experience significant emotional distress (including depression). The number reaches 70 percent for palliative care patients. (The Emotional Facts of People with Cancer, Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology)
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