Opening your mind pays off!

By Bob Reynolds.

Kristi Wilson was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in April 2018.  She wasted no time starting an aggressive treatment program:  First chemo, then surgery, then radiation.  Kristi was having her second chemo treatment when she mentioned to her nurse that she was an integrative veterinarian.  (She is trained in both traditional and alternative healing practices.)  On hearing that, the nurse told her that the hospital had a Healing Touch program through LifeSpark.

Kristi had heard of Reiki and Healing Touch before, though she was skeptical of them; she didn’t understand how those therapies might help her.  But already being familiar with some “non-traditional” modes of healing (such as acupuncture and nutrition), Kristi was ready to open her mind to Healing Touch.

She discovered LifeSpark, and started Healing Touch treatments at UCHealth with practitioner Deb Porter the very next month.  Deb gave Kristi 12 Healing Touch sessions, during the time that Kristi was receiving chemo.  (In addition to the regimen of traditional Western treatments plus Healing Touch, she also receives acupuncture and other modalities.)

Throughout her cancer journey, Kristi’s biggest concern has been the anxiety surrounding all these treatments.  She has always prided herself on staying healthy, as well as the fact that, since her diagnosis, she has required no drugs to manage her anxiety.  When she first began working with Deb, Kristi expected that the treatments would be like meditation, which might help to calm her.

Despite her uncertainty about what to expect, one thing she did understand was the “energy aspects” of Healing Touch.  In addition to feeling the movement of energy through her body, she experienced the same “pins and needles” feeling that she was familiar with from acupuncture.  And she was surprised to discover that the immediate therapeutic results were the same—only without the use of needles!

Kristi has received her chemotherapy treatments through UC Health.  She had surgery and is currently having radiation therapy at MD Anderson in Houston.  Both medical centers have embraced complimentary cancer therapies and have integrative medicine programs.  This means the hospitals have programs offering non-traditional practices such as acupuncture, meditation, Reiki, and Healing Touch.  (LifeSpark is the exclusive Reiki and Healing Touch provider for UC Health.) Kristi’s doctors have encouraged her sessions with Deb, as long as she continues her traditional treatment as well.

Her friends and family have been supportive as well, because they know how much the Healing Touch treatments have helped her.  Even though there was an infusion center five minutes from her home, she still chose to drive to Anschutz Cancer Pavilion 40 minutes away because she could see Deb there.

During the early years of her career as a veterinarian, at first Kristi wasn’t very open-minded about the “completely different world” that Healing Touch therapy and other, non-Western modalities offered.  She had been, in her words, very “black-and-white and evidence-based” in her thinking about illness and remedies. 

But she also understood that “We’re only as smart as the latest clinical trials, and the findings behind those trials.”  Recalling the adage that our minds are like parachutes—which only function when opened—she stressed how important it is to consider options we might normally be skeptical of, or even dismiss outright.  She urges those who might be mulling over a course of cancer treatment to give Healing Touch a try.

When she finished her chemo regimen, Kristi got eight more Healing Touch treatments through LifeSpark from Deb, at an Elements Massage studio.  With its inviting, relaxing atmosphere, it was a welcome change from the sterile hospital bed where she’d received treatment up until then.

Deb continued to work with her for 12 weeks after the chemo ended.  As often happens between a Healing Touch participant and her practitioner, the two of them would get to talking.  Deb had “a lot of wisdom to share” with Kristi, who said that Deb was always professional, comforting, and kind; she is now a friend as well as a healer.  “Deb carried me through my treatment,” Kristi says.

Cancer changes you. You’re not the same when you come out as when you go into it.  Your mind, body, and spirit are important to your recovery.  But my mind was out of sync.  Cancer taught me that in order to be well you have to take care of your mind as well as your body and spirit.

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