Source in the Media: Fostering Wellness, Returning to Your Life

Returning to the life you had before cancer:  Massage can provide many tools to help ease pain, enhance strength & flexibility and foster empowerment through taking control throughout the many stages in the patient’s healing process.

When I began my education in massage therapy in 1997 it was believed that massage was not indicated for oncology cases. Fourteen years later, as an independent therapist and as partner of this collaboration, it gives me great joy to see massage therapy among many other modalities {Reiki too!}  offered and recognized as a tool to foster optimal well-being for everyone seeking a balanced healthy life and in particular after a cancer diagnosis, treatment, surgeries and during recovery. ~N

Saturday, February 5, 2011
The Record

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer confront an array of physical, emotional and psychological challenges — and occupational therapist Kelli Anderson faced them all after undergoing a double mastectomy seven years ago.

The experience inspired Anderson to start up the Breast Rehabilitation and Healing Center in Westwood, which she describes as Bergen County’s first such comprehensive center.

An open house Saturday afternoon showcased Anderson’s concept, which is to offer breast cancer patients a collection of interrelated services. A massage therapist, a psychologist, an aesthetician, a wellness coach and a nutritional consultant were among those on hand to offer “one-stop shopping” for the visiting women.

Anderson said many women who have had mastectomies often are almost “afraid to move” out of fear of injuring their shoulders or backs, which are prone to significant post-surgery soreness.

“Some people get heavy scar tissue, and they don’t know how to work through that,” said Anderson, who opened the center three months ago.

Relieving pain

Nina Skowronski, a massage therapist, said some women tell her they are uncomfortable going to a traditional spa for a massage after having had a breast removed. Skowronski has specialized in working with such patients for the past five years, though she said New Jersey women have to pay her out of pocket while her New York clients are reimbursed through their insurance. She said she is hoping to see New Jersey license massage therapists at some point.

Massages can relieve post-operative pain, Skowronski said, as well as helping patients feel “whole” again as the physical therapy and massage treatments improve range of motion in their arms.

“If someone can finally reach up and grab that coffee cup — those little things mean a lot to them,” Skowronski said.

For the Rev. Heather Cherrey of Woodland Park, the thrill came from being able to “wash my hair again.” Cherrey, 69, had a bilateral mastectomy in September but already has recovered a nearly complete range of motion with her arms after working with Anderson and Skowronski.

“It’s wonderful to be working with people who are part of a team,” said Cherrey at the open house. “There’s so much to learn at first.”

Knowing their needs

Valeri Parker, an aesthetician, said her experience as a nurse has helped her offer advice for breast cancer patients on an emotional level, even as she offered them professional advice on skin care and potential loss of hair. Then two years ago, Parker was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“You’re bound to become wiser to the needs of a patient when you know exactly what they are going through at the time they are diagnosed,” Parker said.

Vic Naumov, a nutrition counselor, said he does blood work on breast cancer clients to create a specialized program.

Naumov said patients dealing with breast cancer are more receptive to being educated about lifestyle improvements such as a healthier diet.

“They’re good patients because they are eager to change — they are noticeably more committed than other clients,” Naumov said.

Twitter: @BergenBrennan

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3 Responses to Source in the Media: Fostering Wellness, Returning to Your Life

  1. This article is extremely informative materials as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t needed to believe this a lot in quite a whilst. Thank you for boosting my slow brain cells.

  2. Tammy McLeod says:

    I have visions of a center like this but not exclusively for breast cancer patients – but somewhere that healing can occur on many different levels. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Tammy McLeod says:

    I’m happy to hear that these patients are more committed but of course, wish they all were. Thanks for the post.

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