09 May Our Journey
By Anne Wallington
Anne is a volunteer complementary therapist at Solaris Cancer Care. Here she shares her story of how complementary therapies came into her life, through her daughter’s illness and husbands journey with cancer.
Our journey and experience with complementary therapies began back in 2000 in Wellington, New Zealand when our daughter was placed on life support in ICU with Guillaume Barre. It was here that we were first advised about Healing Touch and how it was part of the hospital system of treatment.
We booked our daughter in for an appointment and were amazed at the results. My husband watched as the monitors showed her heart rate, breathing and temperature all responding positively to the treatment. Our daughter spent over six months in hospital learning eating, talking and walking again with a further 18 months before 90% of her normal activities were returned. Since then she has done a university course in Remedial massage, business studies, directorship and she now runs a restaurant with her husband. Through her massage courses and practice, she had been open to other therapies and their uses.
After returning to Australia, I spent several years trying to source a Healing Touch course and quickly enrolled when I could. At first, I felt like a fraud as I couldn’t feel anything through my hands and yet the effects of the techniques on myself and others were quite defined. I was even able to assist one classmate with her sciatica pain, the effects of which lasted for some months.
After my class, I was talking to a friend and my husband about the effects of Reiki and Healing Touch, later discovering that my husband had not experienced these therapies himself. We arranged to have Reiki treatments. During his treatment, he noticed that the practitioner was working intently on his knee, which was a particularly troublesome area. He said his foot twitched from side to side and the knee felt warm. Post-treatment his knee felt better and 2 hours later went out to play nine rounds of golf. His knee continued to feel good for several days. At this time, he remembered our daughter’s treatment in NZ, which prompted him to look further.
We both booked in for a Level 1 Reiki course and he discovered that he had a natural talent. He continued into a Level 2 course. I continued with Healing Touch and volunteered with New Horizons before it changed to Solaris Cancer Care.
I am always amazed at how surprised recipients are at the level of relaxation and well-being they feel after the treatments. I gained a greater understanding of the work and the continued necessity for discretion, confidentiality, and intent of treatment for the patient as well as the need to be aware of the diversity of religious beliefs and touch sensitivity.
Patients can be so caught up in medical treatments that they forget to relax. To do something as simple as sit down and listen to some favourite music or visit the beach or water-side. This is where the complementary therapists are very valuable as they have the time and knowledge to guide their clients during their treatment sessions.
In March 2011, my husband was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. It was like a bomb dropping. He felt he had many more things to do in life and I was angry that such a good man could be targeted like this. His sister has had a milder form of Leukaemia for most of her life and our original GP’s encouraging words of a potential ten-year lifespan gave us both hope and ignorance.
We were lucky that we had a private specialist and could get to see him within two weeks. These were the longest two weeks of our married lives. We had to wait another three weeks before getting the outcome of his tests. During this time we were in limbo. We didn’t want to tell anyone because nothing was yet certain.
He stopped work after Easter because of the overwhelming tiredness and demands on his body. We spoke to our son and daughter when he started on the initial course of tablets. After three months with no positive effects, he went on to the next level of treatment and by November, he was in the hospital in Perth with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia having full chemotherapy. The effects were devastating.
Over the following year, he underwent intensive treatments with four visits to ICU. In addition to the worries about his medical treatment, we had the added concerns about being away from our home and friends in Albany, the worry about bills being paid, and going through the process to be able to access Disability Allowance.
Throughout this time, we continued to receive treatments from hospital staff, friends, family, and Solaris Cancer Care. They gave our bodies and mind the rest they needed and relief from chemotherapy. Each treatment was a blessing and a reminder to do what we preached about music, meditation, and hydrotherapy.
My husband passed in October 2012. His understanding and use of energy work and lifestyle practices were of great benefit to him, right up to his last moments.
All the pressures that are associated with having and treating cancer, can be alleviated with the use of complementary therapies. Having Solaris available for us is a wonderful benefit.
My thanks, congratulations and well wishes go to all who participate in this program.