Couple Shares LifeSpark Experience

By Bob Reynolds

Cristina Bassett was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer in May of 2020.  Just three days later she had surgery to remove the cancer and the cancerous tissue, then started chemotherapy.  Her husband Jim was, as he put it, “in a state while all this was going down.” 

Cristina’s surgeon suggested that the two of them work on stress-reducing activities, including mindfulness training.  Cristina was also signed up for outreach program e-mails. In one of those, she saw a listing for mindfulness training and signed up. In one of those sessions, a fellow participant mentioned she had used LifeSpark, and how incredibly helpful it had been for her, and recommended it for anyone going through chemo.

She signed up for LifeSpark online, and quickly got a call from Sandy, who set her up with Julie, one of LifeSpark’s Reiki practitioners. After mentioning that Jim was her primary caregiver, Julie said that Jim was also eligible for treatments through LifeSpark, and so he signed up too.   The fact that all LifeSpark sessions are free was the icing on the cake.

Cristina had trouble doing the guided visualizations.  As an airplane pilot (based in Colorado Springs), she has a pretty literal, objective way of looking at the world, and trying to visualize things that weren’t real was often hard for her.  She found that it was more helpful to achieve a desired mood or mental state by playing music instead. 

Julie gave them each nearly 20 LifeSpark treatments from June to November.  Because of COVID all sessions were conducted remotely, initially via Zoom.  But the audio transmission for playing the music was poor, so they switched to talking via FaceTime before and after treatment, and listening to the same track on their own devices during treatment.

Neither Jim nor Cristina had ever gotten any kind of energy work before, and neither had any particular expectations.  While curious and willing to try new things, Cristina admits that “Reiki wasn’t something I would have sought out before.”  Though they didn’t understand how Reiki worked, they had nothing to lose by trying whatever might help them deal with Cristina’s cancer and recovery.  As she noted, “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”  And the treatments would be something the two of them could experience together, as a couple.  

During the sessions Julie was also a sympathetic ear—the sort of person anyone living with cancer could feel grateful for.  “It was like a therapy session for Jim,” Cristina noted.    Cristina recalls that Jim started out being more stressed about her situation than she was.  With Reiki, she recalled, “He was able to stop focusing on me for a change, and take care of himself.”

During the sessions with each of them Julie would sometimes ask if they experienced a buzzing sensation, or if they felt hot or cold.  Cristina would usually just fall asleep.  Jim usually felt “tingly and light,” introspective, more lucid, and in a quasi-dream state.  He reported that he would come out of a session feeling like he’d had a deep nap or full-body massage.  “You click into that state really quick.  It’s what brought me out of myself … like a very focused dream.”  During some sessions Jim even experienced what he described as emotional breakthroughs.  On one occasion he remembered the death of his dog as a child and then again the loss of his and Cristina’s first dog just two years prior.  His Reiki experience helped him to process that event better and find closure.

A couple of incidents helped to dispel Cristina’s natural skepticism of “alternative healing” methods, and of Julie’s ability to treat her.  Cristina had never mentioned to Julie that she had some scar tissue on her left knee.  Without seeing or hearing about the scar, Julie intuited that there was an issue with the left knee, and gave that area some extra attention. 

Cristina also has a port implanted in her abdomen, and another below her right clavicle.  Occasionally she gets a stitch, or twinge, around the abdominal port.  Julie once asked her if she had any pain, but Cristina forgot to mention the spasms.  During one session the stitch flared up again.  Before being able to mention it in the post-treatment talk, Julie intuited where the stitch was occurring.  Those instances convinced Cristina that “there was a genuine connection there”—that is, she understood that there was more to Reiki, and to Julie’s skill, than mere psychosomatic suggestion or lucky coincidence.

Jim benefitted from his treatments in unanticipated ways.  A lifelong athlete, he says he now approaches sports from a more mental vantage point.  “Your body’s a very sophisticated piece of machinery,” he observed, “and the computer driving it is another piece of sophisticated machinery.”  Having this perspective helped him to relax more. 

LifeSpark’s services are intended primarily for those in treatment for cancer.  In November, after having completed chemo and having the port removed, Cristina felt she didn’t need the Reiki treatments as much as others might, and asked how Jim felt.  Both agreed that the treatments had become more of a luxury rather than a need.  Around that time Cristina dreamt that Julie had given her and Jim a certificate of graduation from Reiki. They talked with Julie about it and agreed to bring their sessions to an end.  

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