I’m glad to introduce you to Eleanor Oyston, a great woman who has been her whole life doing research, understanding about cancer and bringing her heart and soul in everything she does.
At some point of her life, after 30 years observing cancer cells through the microscope and studying their behaviour, Eleanor decided to leave the laboratory to start working with people using the best tool available, her hands.
Since then, she’s been 17 years dedicated to improve the welfare and quality of life of people living with cancer, she’s been training to therapists in oncology massage and also she has brought this complementary therapy into hospitals.
Let’s know Eleanor and her fascinating story! Enjoy!
- We are going to the beginning of your work in the laboratory, the place where an entire life dedicated to people with cancer did start.
I started in haematology in 1967 when we still did white cell counts on glass tiles with a grid called a haemocytometer. Given the task to set up the first white cell counting machine in our hospital I managed to eject the mercury counter balance fluid onto the floor. My boss was instantly there to help gather up the balls of mercury and I was warned to project my new engagement ring as we ‘hand gathered’ the mercury and put it back into the balance tube of the white cell counting machine.
Many aspects of working in a medical laboratory were very different from health and safety procedures in place today and understanding the microscopic examination of blood films was in its infancy.
To understand the workings of the bone marrow I learnt the full range of cells, immature and mature, in bone marrow using a light microscope. Electron microscope pictures were some years away. This information was taught using a multi-headed microscope and the laboratory technician who did the wet prep of the bone marrow specimen (me) sat with the pathologist while he or she ‘made sense’ of the sea of cells before them. What I learnt was it was very hard to standardise interpretation of cells and what the perceivable differences might mean.
I had learnt a great deal more than what we saw down the microscope. I had prepared the patient for the bone marrow, witnessed the suffering and fear of the bone marrow procedure and managed the bone marrow specimen through the laboratory processes. Then I sat with the pathologist while the diagnosis, or most probable diagnosis and treatment plan, was developed. All of my training in haematology, histology and cytology happened this way. I did a very comprehensive apprenticeship.
One Christmas eve I was the technician on duty and I ran all the liquid laboratory tests knowing that the blood film was urgent so I called in the haematologist and we sat together to look at a cell population that represented Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. The patient was 12 years old. In that moment I realised that I was the first to see ‘life changing cells’ and what I wrote on my report, to be counter signed by the pathologist, would change the lives of a whole family, a school and a neighbourhood, forever. I was 19 years old.
- That must’ve been a big experience for you and an enormous responsibility as well. What happened next?
I think I floated along feeling confused as I didn’t have language to express myself and the laboratory culture didn’t encourage us to ‘feel’. We were stoic and professional. It took me another 20 years to find teachers who wrote about the philosophy of health and cultural attitudes to healing in my western culture.
Having my own children became an unstoppable force within my. I was a mother of two little girls by 25 years old. My children brought me a new level of ‘busy-ness’ that gave me purpose and a sense of being and doing the ‘right things at the right time’.
When I wanted to return to work after my daughters were in preschool (1976) the Australian culture was very anti working mothers. I was considered a neglectful mother by my peers and the school teachers didn’t tell me when my daughters were getting class awards because they were sure I was disinterested…I was a working mum!
I trained in the speciality of Diagnostic Cytology with the first Professor of Cytology in Australia while working school hours. Professor Barter was an inspirational leader in this field and we all ‘soaked up’ his wisdom and experience. Cytology was developed in the 1950’s based on the study of exfoliated cells by a Greek doctor call Georgios Papanikolaou. In 1976, when I started studying cytology it was a very new body of knowledge.
With a forward thinking employer I worked in the laboratory in the school term and in the school holidays a courier dropped off prepared cytology slides at my home and I screened them once my children were in bed. The slides were ready for collection early the next day. The cells taught me a great deal about people but I didn’t know that at the time. Much later I began to ‘join the dots’.
- What have you learnt after years observing cancer cell behaviour?
Cells are characterised by their function and location. Squamous cells make up our skin so they differentiate and mature to be anucleated (without a nucleus) and ‘sluffed off’, allowing the emerging cells to take on the role of protection, balancing hydration and creating sensitivity to our environment. Glandular cells are open, florid cells, full of juicy, fluid filled vacuoles ready to secrete, lubricate and nourish. Cancer cells, to me, appeared like ‘naughty children’, able to get more than their own share of the food and attention. Will-full cells that refuse to obey the rules of cohabitation.
The exfoliated cancer cells I’ve seen down a microscope are most often surrounded by normal cells, often histiocytes and macrophages doing their best to contain the cancer cells or mop up the apoptosis of healing and repair.
What I have learnt from observing cancer is that I am not afraid of cancer, I’m curious. Not why me but why not me and if it is ‘me’, why now? What is it in my experience of life that has put my immune system to sleep long enough for these cells to grow and flourish undetected, and ‘stop me in my tracks’?
In my work running retreat programs for people with cancer and their partners I noticed a personality to match the features of the cells. Two wonderful examples come to mind:
- Small cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lung is seen as small clusters of very dark small cells, hard to distinguish from histiocytes and very hard to identify accurately until the disease is well established. ALL of the people I met with SCC had personalities I could describe the same way….hard to see into and understand until they were very sick.
- Ovarian cancer cells are large, open, florid cells. Generously juicy and full of life. If you meet women with ovarian cancer think about my description of the cells and notice if that is part of the woman you meet?
My perceptions are broad generalisations and I do know that the cells will tell is so much more if we can open our curiosity to embrace the wholeness of each unique person.
Moment by moment we secrete a sea of chemistry in accordance with our thinking and feeling. That is science. The secreted molecules of emotion influence the ‘issues in our tissues’.
- It makes sense, biography becomes biology. We’d like to know more about your journey and how epigenetics has changed the way to approach and understand cancer.
After two years as the biochemist and haematologist at the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Port Moresby, PNG, I moved to Canberra, ACT, and quickly got a job in cytology at the local hospital. At a dinner party I was asked what I did for a living and I heard myself say “I diagnose cancer while I grow my own.” Within weeks I was working as the technical manager of a development neuroscience laboratory at the Australian National University. When you really hear yourself there is no turning back.
I was working in cytology, doing fine needle aspiration biopsy, and daily witnessing this very painful procedure. Too often patients endured more than 10 passes through the ‘lump’, each pass more painful than the last. If the lump was coming out, as it always was, then why biopsy? The histology test on the biopsy sample is over 30% inaccurate. The pathologist still do this today, almost 30 years later. I was working in a toxic environment for my belief system and I felt like I was ‘growing my own cancer’somewhere!
During my time at the John Curtain School of Medical Research I had a ‘hobby’. I ran retreats for the Uniting Church called ‘The Walk to Emmaus’. This retreat program ran over a three day weekend and was led by lay people. The program was designed to support folk who had been wounded by the church or were struggling with their faith. This was when my experience with, and observation of people really began.
I know what every cell in the human body looks like down a microscope, how it functions when it is healthy and when it is not. Now I began observing the impact of our belief system on our behaviour and our health. Epigenetics came to life and I didn’t have a language to explain it until I started a Health Education degree that explored the philosophy of health and healing. Prof Chris Higginson at the University of Canberra developed a ground breaking degree that studies the sociology, economy and psychology of the western health systems. With consciousness we can regain a sense of control over life ….epigenetics is the science that explains this concept.
Dr Brice Lipton ‘wrote my book’ about epigenetics and called it The Biology of Belief.
After 10 years working in medical research, learning about people through the Emmaus program and tertiary study it was time to follow my heart. The year I turned 50 I went to massage school.
At massage school I felt that I knew nothing! Suddenly I felt energy with my own hands. This was when science came to life and epigenetics blossomed as the concept and the reality that we call ‘spontaneous remission’.
– WORKING WITH HANDS, HEART AND SOUL –
At massage school in 1999 I was taught that people with cancer could not be massaged. I was shocked and soon understood why the massage community had created modern day lepers…fear of litigation and a lack of understanding of pathological processes in the body! There is no medical or scientific reason why gentle touch cannot be offered to every person seeking it.
The modern massage profession grew out of musculo-skeletal sports massage. At the turn of the last century a massage degree was offered at university and massage therapists went to WW1. The success of massage in the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen saw massage therapists commissioned in the Australian armed services and later, in WW2, physiotherapy developed from the massage profession with the addition of new electronic technology.
Massage therapy was relegated to the pleasure and ‘red-light’ sector and quickly fell from favour. Physiotherapists did a lot of massage sixty years ago and it wasn’t until late in the last century that associations for complementary therapists began to develop in Australia.
Pathology was not taught in the Diploma of Remedial Massage in 1999 and the week after I finished my diploma I taught the first pathology course for massage therapists in Australia. It was 2000.
- And the opportunity to work with people with cancer arrived.
I was asked if I would come to do massage for people with cancer who were on a retreat program at the Quest for Life (QFL) Foundation and I said “yes”. Here was my chance to work with the tactile challenges of complex pathology and to work in a supportive and nurturing environment, one that cares for me as a therapist as well as people with cancer and their partners.
The team leader at QFL was Petrea King and she had extensive experience massaging people with cancer and HIV AIDS and she developed a teaching program based on finding peace in the midst of chaos. Petrea became an internationally recognised author, media personality and a dear friend. With support, I confidently massaged people with complex bodies, huge scars, a variety of medical devices, lymphedema…just a few of my learning opportunities.
- How did you feel massaging people with cancer, breaking the taboo?
Massaging people with cancer was an amazing adventure that has changed my life in profound ways. I have learnt how the human body manages adversity and disease, responds to relaxation and release, and how much can be sensed and changed by skilled hands.
- Hands and touch are a more deep and sensitive way to see, listen, and communicate. What is oncology massage?
Massage is considered a type of complementary therapy. Complementary therapies aim to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of disease. They are used together with conventional or mainstream medicine. Complementary therapies are not used instead of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or other forms of drug therapy.
Oncology massage (OM) techniques are not complicated. The techniques I learnt in massage school are the basis of OM and what I do is teach an adaptation and refinement of these techniques based on a deep understanding of cancer, cancer treatment and the emotions that people experience when living with a life limiting diagnosis.
When I began massaging folk with cancer I could feel subtle differences that I adapted and changed my touch patterns to accommodate.
I called my new massage techniques OM because Gayle MacDonald had already written Medicine Hands and was developing the Society for Oncology Massage. I also had excellent scientific credentials in diagnostic cytology.
I had developed a three day residential training program for qualified massage therapists called “Massage, Cancer and More”(MC&M) and I had been running it since 2002 at the Quest for Life Foundation where I worked facilitating cancer programs for Petrea King. Medicine Hands was the text book for my program as well as a basic pathology text book.
In 2000, when I trained in massage, pathology was not taught at all and one week after graduating from massage school I taught the first course in pathology to massage students in Australia. It was a basic 10 week course helping massage students to understand the various pathological processes they might encounter in their massage clinics. MC&M was an extension of this basic program with a focus on cancer aetiology, treatment and end of life challenges.
- Oncology massage is a holistic treatment. How does it help to people living with cancer?
As well as improving physical symptoms, some people with cancer say that having a massage:
- makes them feel whole again
- helps them to relax
- helps them share feelings in an informal setting
- makes them feel more positive about their body
- rebuilds hope.
Research shows that massage of muscle and soft tissue does not spread cancer cells.
Scientific studies have looked at the effects of various body-based practices on people having cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery. These studies have shown that massage may reduce:
- anxiety and depression.
Individuals who have had massages during cancer treatments have reported a range of positive outcomes such as improvements in:
- the health of the scar tissue
- quality of life
- mental clarity and alertness
- the range of movement.
If there was a drug on the market to do this it would be front page news however there is little money to be made from the hands and hearts of compassionate oncology massage therapists. The information about the scientifically proven benefits of OM has been published in medical journal, written into information produced by government approved cancer support organisations and used globally to help cancer patients for over 12 years. Australia is a long way behind. WHY?
- The benefits of OM are huge; it seems to be a good treatment for fragile patients, not only for people with cancer.
Yes, all manner of disease processes benefit from gentle, mindful massage, especially neuro-degenerative disorders.
- How massage and cancer cells can be connected?
Gentle massage and the freeing up of fascia, the production of relaxation hormones and the ‘bliss hormone’ supports the immune system. This is a big topic to be written about in detail.
The recent medical research into the benefits, for people with cancer, of daily exercise supports research into OM. OM and exercise create similar tissue movement and endorphin production, especially oxytocin.
- It is admirable how you knew to think out of the box and transfer to your hands the knowledge and experience gained at the laboratory.
I willingly embraced the work with folk with cancer because I know what every cell in the body looks like, how it functions in health and I can imagine how disease changes the process.
Everyone needs and longs for human touch. Babies cannot live without touch and that fact alone should tell the medical world that safe touch is vital to healing and peace.
I wanted to massage people with cancer because they need safe, mindful touch more than any well person. Any diagnosis of a life limiting illness; surgery, chemotherapy or radiation; invasive, frightening and painful diagnostic procedures creates fear, anxiety and isolation.
The up side of diagnosing cancer for over 20 years is that I don’t fear the word. I respect the disease and know that management of cancer is tricky. Deep down I think why would anyone not get cancer? We live on a toxic planet. 100,000 chemicals weren’t on planet earth 30 years ago. How can our species adapt in such a short time.
Not every chemical is carcinogenic but every chemical changes our environment and the synergistic processes, when huge options are available, is totally unpredictable. Some of us are like the ‘canary in the coalmine’, the first to develop disease and ‘fall off the perch’. Others are biologically more robust and the changes in our chemical environment show no ill effects. Epigenetics and genetics are exciting filters through which to explore this topic.
- We carry on with your story Eleanor. Tell us about the evolution of your work as oncology massage therapist, providing massage, doing research and teaching.
In 2004 I went to the inaugural meeting of the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), a medical body based in the US and led by Pro Barrie Caselith. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) NY, had just published the ground breaking scientific paper on the benefits of oncology massage (this paper is still the key research today in 2016:1290 patients over 3 years; pain and anxiety reduced by over 50%) and they had a workshop for oncology massage therapists at their conference. I was gifted funding to attend this meeting in NY. The benefit of oncology massage was not debated, everyone accepted them. What was debated was how to standardise techniques and employ OM therapists.
In 2006 I attended the SIO meeting in Boston, US, and met Gayle MacDonald for the first time. There was a panel of 9 OM teachers who had viable training programs and they each offered guidance on how to develop OM techniques, training and integration into medical services. When a question was debated they ALL deferred to Gayle to settle the issue. Gayle was the one I wanted to come to Australia and help me. I asked her that day and she said yes. Our friendship has taken us on a very special journey.
The NSW Cancer Council gave us $30,000 to host Gayle’s visit and she came for a month.
Gayle lectured on the East Coast of Australia and taught 48 therapists in her program. Our techniques and course content were very closely aligned and we each learnt from each other. I was already writing articles on epigenetics and Gayle was grabbling with this concept; I was grabbling with energy work and Gayle was an expert in this field. We had a great month together. My abdominal massage technique was my specialty and I have added a wee story on how it came about.
It is tricky for me to begin talking about oncology massage and research as for me it started 16 years ago on a dark and stormy night at Quest for Life, at 2 am in the morning, 2001.
As the facilitator of the cancer program part of my responsibility was to care for the participants overnight so when my phone rang at 2 am my support person and I made our way to the guest’s bedroom.
A woman my age, early 50’s, with advanced cervical cancer was in severe abdominal pain. She had taken all the drugs they had and put heat packs around her back and abdomen. This couple, with a lifetime of experience, both looked like ‘rabbits in the headlight’ and said ‘please don’t make us go to hospital, we just want this last weekend together’.
I don’t really know why, to give myself time to assess the situation I imagine, I knelt beside the bed and slipped my hand under the doona and onto her rock hard abdomen. Then I waited, just waited and the tension in the room slowly lessened. I don’t recall how long I gently held my hands on her tummy, it felt like ages, and the abdomen began to soften and we all began to feel much more relaxed.
I massaged her abdomen gently and she drifted into sleep. I tucked them into bed and put out the light.
The next morning we walked to the chemist to fill her script and she asked me what I did to stop the pain? I don’t know exactly what I did, there was not a double blind research project to advise me. I brought ‘human potential’ and compassion to the moment.
This is one of the many stories that guided me to write an OM training program in 2001.
- Tell us about your oncology massage training program.
As my skills and experience grew I ran more and more MC&M programs around the capital cities in Australia. I developed a data base of therapists who had done my course and offered it to cancer support groups. The OM skills gradually became known in massage circles and MC&M developed into Oncology Massage Training (OMT), two-three day programs which were non-residential. Moving to a non-residential format was easier to manage and I began to train other therapists to teach my program and a period of expansion began in earnest.
Late one Sunday night I was struggling to manage the office work of enrolments and venue management and I asked my daughter to help. I offered to pay Kylie and hourly rate and asked her to record her hours! She rang back in an hour and told me she took 19 minutes to do what would have taken me three days. I hired her and Kylie’s administrative skills, over the next 7 years built the successful organisation we have today.
OMT became Oncology Massage Limited, a not-for-profit organisation in 2011 and together Kylie and I weathered many storms successfully. Kylie’s husband is a Patens lawyer and my husband (Kylie’s father) is a Naval Officer so we were well supported in many ways.
Our whole family became involved and most of the work was unpaid. All the income went into paying the new teachers and administrative costs. Kylie did manage to pay herself a small salary in time.
- You collaborate with The Western Sydney University (WSU), and South Weston Sydney Local Health District to support research into the use of complementary therapies.
Yes. As leaders in our field in Australia we fundraised to support university research into the use of complementary therapies for patients diagnosed with cancer. This is ongoing and results should emerge towards the end of 2016.
The partnership with WSU is a boost to moral and is costly to a very small charity. We know that massage in cancer hospitals is of compassionate benefit to patients and staff. An example is that therapeutic radiographers have approached OML to develop a research project to look at the benefits to brain tumour patients of OM before, during and after they have their radiation ‘mask’ fitted. This process is so upsetting for the technical staff that they have sort OML out. It is hoped that OM therapists can help relax the patient so that the patient can accept the procedure with less anxiety. Sadly funding has halted this program.
- The Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre in the Austin Hospital, Melbourne offers the oncology massage. Any other hospitals?
Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre in the Austin Hospital, Melbourne was the first in Australia to contact me and ask me to help them develop a wellness centre that would offer oncology massage. Over two years, with the involvement of the hospital ethic committee, the Director of the Wellness Centre, Christine Scott, who took a global Churchill Scholarship, we set up a government supported service. Five OM therapists are employed and offer OM in the Wellness Centre, the day infusion units, radiation waiting rooms and the acute care wards. This is a very successful model.
A growing number of hospitals are offering massage in major cancer centres around Australia and this is the focus of the Western Sydney University research. Approximately 250 cancer service hospitals are keen to be included in the study, 109 have completed the questionnaire at this time and the results are expected to be completed by November 2016.
Major cancer hospitals like the Kinghorn Centre at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Chris O’Brien Life-House at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney are leading the way by developing permanent part time positions for several OM therapists. Completing OML’s training program is the essential qualification for being considered for the jobs. Cancer treatment providers are interested in creating the OM service as well as looking to fund the training of more oncology massage therapists. Currently OM therapists pay for all their own training.
As a not-for-profit charity our courses are run as cost effectively as possible but still costly for a professional massage therapist.
- What kind of training is required to become an oncology massage therapist?
This varies from country to country. Australia is very well regulated and our massage industry is subject to the Australian Quality Skills Authority. Please go to our website at www.oncologymassagetraining.com.au for more information.
- Tell us about the feed-back from people with cancer who receive oncology massage.
Some stories from our website:
- “Terrific experience, I had no idea this could be so relaxing. Leanne was very professional and had superb mannerism. Will definitely have more massages.” Anonymous, QL D, November 2014
- “Very professional, attentive, caring and friendly. Best massage techniques!” Maurice, QLD, November 2014
- “Elsie is a very lovely therapist and I was very comfortable from the very start. She always asked about my comfort and her hands were very gentle. It was perfect pressure and very soothing and relaxing.” Narella, QLD, November 2014
- “I enjoyed it very much. It was very relaxing. I fell asleep a few times. I didn’t worry about anything, I had no thoughts, it was just relaxing. Really beautiful and I think it was very good for my legs. Afterwards I felt no pressure at the top of my legs. Thank you!” Marina, QLD, November 2014
- “It was a real comfort on my neck and scars. It felt good to have the gentle touch. I really appreciate being asked to take part, great experience!” Ellen, VIC, November 2014
- “Wonderful, very realxing. A lot of care was taken with taking my medical history which was appreciated. I have no experience with massage except deep tissue. This was a great experience.” Sandra, ACT, November 2014
- “I loved it, it was so relaxing. Richard made me feel very comfortable and I can say he was very gentle. I could have one like this every week.” Anonymous, VIC, November 2014
– CLOSING THE CIRCLE –
- What is the greatness you observe and perceive with your hands that any technology even the most advanced and accurate would be able to do?
To express compassion by physically connecting with the pain and suffering of the other with skill and wisdom, without judgement or ill intent. To offer a space where peace might grow and human touch may consolew
- What have you learnt through your hands about cancer that you would never had learn from the laboratory?
How compassion changes the body. Skilled touch, born out of experience and knowledge allows me to feel much more than words can express and our science based, double blind, peer reviewed literature proves. The medical world does not encourage or tolerate opinions like mine. All my ‘knowing’ is based on observational research and the experience of one researcher, ME.
- What have you learnt from human beings through your hands?
Hands and heart are one. If I only worked with my hands I would feel anatomy and physiology. When I am truly present to the other I feel compassion, energy and hope. The hope that I, or they, will not be abandoned to their suffering because of the fear of cancer. Maybe my sense of peace will allow the other to explore the possibility of the peace that passes all understanding for themselves.
- OML International Conference was last October. What were the challenges?
The conference was an outstanding success and the international speakers congratulated OML on the high standards being set for OM services in Australia.
We ran a workshop on Touch, Caring and Cancer, a safe touch for carers, National Cancer Institute, USA, program developed by William Collinge. Scar management, post cancer treatment, and similar survivorship challenges were workshopped and the leading professor in lymphedema research gifted us all a comprehensive document on the latest understanding of lymphedema management.
A fabulous presentation from the head of Palliative Care Australia affirmed our commitment to working in this area of OM and established in-hospital massage services were celebrated.
- I’m sure that health professionals who work with people with cancer are already interested in OM. I’d like to invite you to embrace staff, health professionals who work in the community and hospitals. How can OM improve the quality of life of their patients?
The presence of an OM therapist in an oncology ward, chemotherapy infusion unit or radiotherapy waiting room has considerable positive flow on effects for medical and nursing staff.
In the simplest scenario, on a cancer ward, the physiotherapist moves the patient, the OM therapist massages them to sleep and the nurse has time to deal with other patients.
In a day infusion unit OM therapist is asked to massage feet while the cannula is inserted, especially when the first round of chemotherapy is at hand, and in radiotherapy gentle shoulder release or a leg massage sequence is calming pre or post the isolation of the radiation suit.
In initial conversation with hospitals I always suggest that an outpatient clinic be considers and made available to staff at a reduced rate. So far, to my knowledge, this idea has not been taken up. I consider a staff massage service a very viable idea to defrayed some of the costs of a well-run in house support for medical and nursing staff.
- Thinking about self-care. Can Oncology Massage improve the quality of life of health professionals? In what way?
OM therapists have to have a basic training as remedial massage therapists and they have specialised in oncology massage. It has been my experience over 17 years that massaging only clients with cancer is not sustainable over time. I recommend that massage therapists have an eclectic practice working with a variety of clients. Many clients with caner will return to health however, we as OM therapists, are aware of the signs and symptoms that precede a recurrence. This can be a stressor for the therapist.
If health professionals form over 50% of your client base OM therapists will be working with treatable physical musculo-skeletal issues. A healthy balance for a massage professional and excellent self-care for health professionals.
I have massaged many health professionals and successfully supported their work by using the relaxation techniques of oncology massage.
- Anything else you would like to share with us?
Funding a massage service in your hospital?
From the beginning of my interface with hospitals and doctor’s surgeries I have been told that funding a massage service is the main obstacle. In Australia the government provides health care free…well we pay for it in our taxes. Consequently patients expect medical services to be free of charge. This attitude appears to set massage against nursing budgets. Funding massage out of the money used to provide nursing staff is both divisive and not possible. However funding massage therapy from the ‘quality of life’ funding is sustainable. The money used to hang pictures in wards, leather lounges in foyers and the like.
Oncology massage therapists pay the same for their training as Occupational Therapists (in Australia) without any of the fee support that the government gives OT’s and nurses. We deserve to make a living from our skills and professional training, training with is regulated by the Australian Quality Skills Authority.
And lastly…the OM massage skills are perfect for the management of Alzheimer’s, dementia and aged care patients. To insure the physical and emotional safety of therapists they need specialised training to work safely with this high needs group. Ask an aged care RN and they will tell you that ‘care providers’ in this sector of aged care can be physically and emotionally dangerous!
* * *
Thank you for sharing your fascinating and precious story so full of passion and wisdom.
Thanks to Gabriel Heras who connected each other. It was so exciting and emotional to meet you Eleanor and a pleasure to feel how convinced you are that science, love and compassion should walk hand by hand, together.
There is a light of joy in your eyes, the joy of someone who has walked many people’s journeys with respect, humility, unconditional acceptance and understanding.
Touching is a sacred act. Even something as simple in our daily life as taking someone’s hand it should be done with mindful and being present. Sick people do not always need the best technology to be cared for, but they always need hands that bring peace, love, and hope.
Dear Eleanor, I am convinced that your testimony will be a big help to people living with cancer, and for those living with a progressive and limiting disease. I am already thinking about how massage can also benefit their relatives and how many health professionals who, regardless the area where they work, will be interested in oncology massage.
Thank you very much! Your life story is powerful, human, inspires and mobilizes to action. We wish you all the best. Keep bringing life through your hands, healing hands.
Elena Lorente Guerrero