In support of providing Reiki sessions as an integral part of complementary therapies provided to patients living with cancer diagnosis
By Anna Jarecki
When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, the first reaction is one of disbelief and shock, followed by the need to know everything you can, then the desire to find a cure and provide comfort to your loved one. In the midst of all the confusion, anger, grief and pain, you are constantly seeking any way possible to provide your loved one with comfort…a way to relieve their pain, their anxiety, and their own struggle to deal with a critical, often fatal disease.
When my mother was diagnosed with lung and liver cancer, 4th stage, she and our family were devastated. She did opt to receive chemotherapy, which at least temporarily has stalled the progress of her lung cancer, but of course, the therapy diminished her health in other ways, including hair loss, weight loss, lowered energy levels and many physical changes that were noticeable and sometimes, overwhelming. In the midst of all of these negatives, a great positive occurred when we learned of a complementary treatment known as Reiki. My mother, who is 82, was willing to try Reiki, which was a bit startling in itself – my mother has never had a massage, gone to a spa, tried meditation and hasn’t even seen a doctor over the last 40 years, except for an occasional pap smear. Prior to this diagnosis, she took no pharmaceutical drugs whatsoever and only on rare occasion would take an over-the-counter medication for a cold or cough.
My mother is currently receiving home hospice care from Rainbow Hospice of Watertown, which provides her with the most caring practitioners, providing a variety of medications designed to ease breathing issues, as well as to provide my mother with energy and a temporary abatement of her symptoms to maintain a very good quality of life as her disease progresses. One of the many non-pharmaceutical therapies offered by her hospice providers is Reiki and is the way that we were first introduced to Reiki as a complementary therapy. She is provided a Reiki session about twice a month as part of her home hospice treatment, but after seeing the great benefit derived from the sessions, we have engaged the services of a Reiki practitioner for twice weekly visits for our mother. Our primary Reiki provider, Carmen Tracey, provides in-home treatment, twice a week and is also available on an “as needed” basis. The connection between my mother and Carmen is one of mutual trust and great respect and the benefits derived are immeasurable, though often difficult to comprehend and appreciate by non-recipients.
During her very first session, my mother was able to take great comfort in the sense of relaxation and peace that she eased into during her Reiki treatment. In each subsequent session, she has found that she is able to relax even more deeply, to the point of achieving an almost meditative state and after each session, she remarks how balanced and grounded she feels. Her twice a week, 30 minutes sessions are by far the most valuable and precious treatment she is currently receiving. I cannot emphasize enough how remarkable a Reiki session can be, whether an individual’s health is compromised or not. My mother’s response to the treatment has encouraged my entire family to learn more about Reiki, receive treatment and in some instances, seek knowledge to be able to provide Reiki to others.
It's important to understand that a Reiki treatment can provide one with a sense of relief and tranquility, allowing the patient to at least momentarily, be removed from the immediacy of their every day struggles. Each practitioner has a unique style; while some practitioners utilize a "hands-on" approach, others do not make any physical contact, though the patient's preference is always respected. The patient remains clothed and can receive treatment nearly anywhere in their home and in any position. While my mother initially chose to lay down on her living room sofa, she ultimately chose to receive treatment in her bedroom. For my mother, Reiki has provided more than just a sense of tranquility and balance; it has also provided pain relief - multiple times. This type of relief may not be derived by all recipients, but for my mother, it has definitely proven to allay many of her physical complaints which have been a part of her life as continues to live with cancer.
There is another very important beneficial aspect of Reiki that my mother has received that is very difficult to describe and define. The Reiki sessions have been of great assistance to our mother in terms of accepting where she is on her journey and allowing her to make the transition from her life here to what she believes will be the “next step” in her journey, beyond life here on earth. My mother’s quality of life is still very good, despite the fact that she has recently been “re-evaluated” having gone beyond the time period predicted for her longevity following diagnosis. She is not considering nor desiring an earlier time to depart from this life, but she has experienced moments in her Reiki sessions that have given her insight, serenity and acceptance beyond anything that we could have imagined. She embraces and enjoys her life day to day, but is not facing constant anxiety in anticipation of what lies ahead and we attribute that to her positive outlook, but we know that Reiki had a tremendous influence on her because of her frank and open discussions about her treatment.
I would highly recommend Reiki to any individual whose health has been compromised, but would especially recommend it to those whose bodies are weakened by the physical assaults of cancer and its treatments, whether they must endure surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation as well as for their spirits which can be devastated by the physical, mental and emotional anguish that a cancer diagnosis can bring. It is non-invasive, unobtrusive and most importantly, restorative. It can be provided to any patient, in any environment; it does not require the removal or addition of any special equipment, devices or apparatus. It can provide relief from mental, physical, emotional and spiritual anguish and can provide to patients, the "human touch" that may be the one component of care that is overlooked when medical professionals are working diligently to cure diseases, but may, perhaps inadvertently, be neglecting to provide comfort to those who are desperately in need. Treatments may not provide all of the restorative benefits that I have witnessed my mother and other family and friends receive, but if a treatment provides even one of the many gifts that Reiki has blessed my mother with, then the sessions will prove to be an invaluable tool and resource for patients and their families.