Sharleen Lind, a Made For Life Organics Cancer Touch Therapy-qualified therapist, explains the physical and emotional impacts of treating clients with cancer.
1. Be passionate about helping
“When I worked as a personal trainer on a cruise ship, I came into contact with lots of people with different conditions. I became inspired and asked where I could learn to help those struggling, which led me to The Granary Spa, a holistic retreat in Ashford, Kent, where I’m now spa manager.
“To train in cancer therapies, you’ve got to have a lot of empathy in your character and a passion for caring for people, but I also think that anyone who goes through the training will leave thinking, ‘It feels really great to help people’. Everyone knows someone who has been through cancer, so you just have to think about how you would want them to be treated.”
2. Study up on the specifics
“Before I did my training with Made For Life Organics, I felt quite nervous because I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I became a lot more confident having gone through training, and with practice.
“We were taught by a paramedic, who made sure we knew everything about the operations the patients went through and the physiological and mental strain that this would have. You have to be aware of the type and severity of the cancer, as well as where it is in the body, and just understand the client’s journey through the illness from start to finish.”
3. Be adaptable
“Everyone’s different, so we have a specific consultation form that lets us know how the client is doing on that day. Some will want to talk about what they’re going through, so you just listen. I like speaking to them and knowing how they are, but you shouldn’t ask too many questions if not prompted to because they get enough of that when going through treatment.
“Sometimes, they may be tearful, and your goal becomes helping them with the negative voices in their head. All you want to do is give them a hug, but you have to take over and say, ‘Let’s get you on the bed and make you feel a bit better’. It can be challenging mentally but it’s become second nature now.”
4. Develop a gentle touch
“The treatments themselves aren’t all that different, but they’re often far gentler and you may not spend as much time working on a certain area. Indian head massages, foot massages and hand massages are all the same movements, just lighter.
“People usually just want to be treated normally, so we make sure we don’t say anything differently; we simply go though the consultation, ask them if there are any areas they want us to avoid, and then do the treatment. Through this practice, you really learn how to listen and understand their individual needs.”
5. Understand your impact
“Our aim is to make people feel included, and to spoil them, because they don’t often feel very special with all they’re going through. It’s so worthwhile seeing how relaxed they are, getting off the bed with a big smile.
“We’ve had clients who have had treatments then sadly passed away but their partners have continued to come to us through their journey of loss because they know their partner had been here and how good they felt. It’s so special.
“I would encourage all therapists to do cancer touch training, because it can make such a positive difference. The body’s the most amazing machine and if you can help to heal it just with your touch, then that’s just incredible.”