Healing Touch smooths the journey

By Bob Reynolds.

For the last five years Stephanie Kessler, of Lakewood, Colorado, has lived with a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called mantle-cell lymphoma (MCL).  After she was diagnosed she was heartened to learn that in the last 10 years, much progress has been made in the medical treatment for lymphoma.  But even with more and better treatment options, having cancer is frightening, and Stephanie’s path to healing would be hard.

Fortunately, the Healing Touch treatments she received from LifeSpark volunteers have helped to reduce the stress of living with cancer, and made her journey a smoother one.

A few months after her diagnosis she had a stem-cell transplant.  In 2017 she suffered a relapse.  Her doctors found a tumor on her lungs, and put her on an oral chemotherapy drug.  “The side effects just about killed me,” she recalls.  Then a CT scan revealed that the drug didn’t work—the tumor continued to grow.  During this ordeal, Stephanie felt “unbelievable fatigue,” and had trouble breathing.

So her oncologist prescribed a different chemo pill.  That one didn’t work either.  With each new drug, her blood pressure would drop quite a bit.  After trying three different chemo pills, she switched to radiation.  As a result of those treatments, she developed pneumonitis—an inflammation of the lungs.  ​While it took well over a year for the effects of the radiation to disappear, her MCL had turned a corner:  The tumor shrank to “almost nothing.”

Before she started with LifeSpark Stephanie was already familiar with alternative / non-traditional health practices (such as yoga).  She had friends who had received Reiki, so touch therapy wasn’t a novel idea for her.  Then one of her daughters showed her a brochure from LifeSpark—and that’s all it took to get Stephanie to sign up.

Stephanie was in the LifeSpark program in 2018 and then again this year, and Healing Touch greatly relieved the effects of her chemo and radiation.  She’s been treated by two LifeSpark practitioners—Bev Ball and Elaine Fitzgerald.  Working out of the Green Mountain Methodist Church (one of LifeSpark’s treatment spaces), the skill and heartfelt concern of these volunteers have changed Stephanie’s overall health and mood for the better.

During her hour-long sessions Stephanie was in a peaceful, supportive space where she didn’t feel she had to “hold herself together.”  Because she was able to relax and feel cared for during her sessions, she says, “I will always think of the little room at Green Mountain as a sacred space.”

One thing Stephanie appreciated about Bev and Elaine was that they taught her some relaxation exercises and Healing Touch techniques she could perform on her own, so she could give herself relief anywhere, as needed.

Stephanie moved to Colorado to be near one of her daughters, who had moved here not long before.  Her other daughter, in New York, moved out here three years later.  “Nothing scares children like their mom getting cancer,” Stephanie remarked.  Her children have been “right there” for her throughout the journey, driving her to medical appointments and caring for her when she felt too bad to take good care of herself.

Her oncologist has noted the difference the Healing Touch has made in her well-being and encourages her to continue doing it.  Stephanie, in turn, encourages others with cancer to give it a try.

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