- By Ginny Vickers
I've wanted to write a blog about cancer and integrative therapies. But what was holding me back was trying to figure out what to write about first, since there's so much information I want to share.
So here I am - ready to share my passion for oncology massage, which truly feels like my mission. In my blog posts I’ll talk about what originally led me to this work, what happens when one receives a cancer diagnosis, cancer and its side effects, living with cancer, end of life care, care giver support, research supporting oncology massage, and healing versus curing...
But where I want to begin is to talk about “healing versus curing." I bear witness to this all the time. I see it here at work,. I see it with my patients in hospice and I see it with the kids at Tufts Floating Hospital.
Let's face it, when one receives a cancer diagnosis, it's a game changer. After the initial shock, when the dust begins to settle, a cure is what one aims for. And because we are at an unprecedented precipice in cancer treatment (i.e. immunotherapy), this is a real possibility in many scenarios.
I've seen people "cured" - or more accurately the term NED (no evidence of disease) is used. My brother is one such medical miracle; over 10 years now remission from stage 4 metastatic melanoma. His oncologist is still scratching his head, albeit with a huge smile...
Some cancers of the blood are deemed curable, in particular ALL (the most common form of leukemia in children), with a very high survival rate. In the short time I've been working in the pediatric hematology/oncology clinic at Tufts, I see this extraordinary chain of events played out weekly.
Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy - all lifesaving - come at a cost. The stories I hear from my patients and clients all share a similar theme; their bodies are not the same. Yet oncology massage can bring bodies to a place where they move easier due to an increased range of motion, it can soften tissues that are rigid and scarred, and it can decrease pain and help to relive feelings of anxiety. It can indeed begin to change the body. These bodies and minds eventually come to accept this as their new normal...and this can be called "healing."
The simple and timeless act of "laying of hands"on another, is for me what this is all about and where the healing occurs. There is something so profoundly sacred in this exchange. It does not need to be proven nor researched. I trust this process and I am beyond fortunate and humbled to call this my work.
"Touch was never meant to be a luxury. It is a basic human need. It is an action that validates life and gives hope both to the receiver and the giver." ~ Irene Smith
Aloha Friends: I am just back from some beautiful and lovely days in Hawaii and am so inspired and revitalized. It is here that I decided to create 2 wonderful new offerings/treatments. This first, Ancient Lomi Journey represents the culmination o all of me Healing Lomi work to date. It is how Lomi should be expereienced, unrushed, unplanned with ample time before and after to "talk story" and help process and embed the experience. I have allotted 2.5 to 3 hours as an estimate. It is not all table time but it is ll part of the experience. I hope you consider to undertake this Ke Ala Hoku (Pathway to the Stars) with me
Ancient Lomi Lomi Journey
This healing work, from Hawai'i is the embodiment of self care and the love of Aloha. Ancient Lomi Lomi is a flowing, magical treatment which facilitates a lifting and release of emotional and conceptual reality layers, allowing a deeper inner awareness to arise. Limiting beliefs, thoughts and emotions - manifested in patterns of physical holding - are shaken loose by the deeper movement of wholeness emerging. These impactful energies are released in to the sphere of acceptance allowing one to feel and begin to respond to life from a place of more freedom and balance. We are reconnected to our own essence and thereby awakened to the positive energy of all that surrounds us. Every Lomi journey is different; how it unfolds is unique to each person, and different each time it is experienced. The ancient lineage, energetic touch, breath, movement, music and the core intention of Aloha combine to deliver a fluid and truly unforgettable body, or "out of body" experience of profound relaxation, calm, inner peace and joy, resulting in a renewed mind-body balance.
Sessions are 2.5 to 3 hours in length and include time to discuss your goals and objectives prior, ritual pi kai, pule, and time to "talk story" or process and discuss your experience after.
The second treatment is called Subtle Body Journey. Again, for those who have experienced my work, this is really an extension and variation of my Swedish massage treatment - with more of an intention and a connection to invite you to "discover" your own body through touch. This work helps to create and strengthen your own mind/body connection.
Subtle Body Journey - Holistic Kauhuna Bodywork Embark on a slow, methodical exploration of the subtle structures of your body. Get in touch with your diaphragm, belly, jaw, neck, limbs, feet, hands and head through gentle holds, relaxed stretches, slow breathing and gliding touch. This work can be customized to your individual needs, goals and/or chief concerns.
I invite you to come and try both of these wonderful one of a kind touch experiences for yourself.
~ with Aloha
What to Expect During a Lomi Massage
What is Lomi Lomi Massage?
This is a minor update of a prior post re posted here due to the number of inquiries about Lomi massage and what to expect. The original posts may be found here , here , and here
Massage therapy is one of the oldest and most powerful forms of healing. Lomi Lomi is one of the most profound forms of massage. So, what makes it so special, what is it, how does it differ from other massage, how does it "work"?
I'm often asked what Lomi Lomi means. The meaning of the words Lomi Lomi in some sense have been lost to time, and are so misquoted on the internet it is hard to keep track!
Because the ancient Hawaiian language was a spoken one, and not written, there are few references to Lomi, prior to the arrival of western missionaries. However for purposes of simplicity, lets just assume that in today's understanding Lomi Lomi might best be translated as "loving touch". But loving not in the sense of romantic love, but in the sense of Aloha. I will write more on Aloha and the history of the word in another post, but suffice to say that Lomi was commonly practiced in families, children on parents, parents on children, and for royalty. It was a part of healing and was also a part or relaxation. Repeating a word in Hawaiian merely emphasizes the meaning. More on this if you are interested.
However, today, what Lomi Lomi is a unique healing massage derived from the ancient Polynesians and more specifically the master healers of Hawaii. True Lomi Lomi has other components of healing, such as knowledge of herbs and natural remedies, but again, this being today, the focus of this post is really to describe the bodywork experience and environment.
However, Lomi, for me, is more than a technique. It is a life style and a journey to know one's self on a deeper level
To understand the depth of Lomi Lomi massage, it helps to have an understanding of the Hawaiian philosophy called Huna, and how the philosophies of Huna relate to bodywork and healing.
A fundamental assumption of Huna is that everything seeks harmony and everything seeks love. So how does this relate to massage? Perhaps this can best be understood by taking the concept of "Loving Touch". The reason for this is that it works gently yet deeply into the muscles with continuous, flowing strokes, totally nurturing the body and, enabling the recipient to relax, give in and simply be. So while technique is a part of the massage, much of the work is done by intuition, and feeling, with the focus of the practitioner on the client being deep and complete, using loving hands and a loving heart.
This flowing with total energy, using the long continuous fluid strokes, combined with the very loving touch, relaxes the entire being, assisting in a letting go of old beliefs, patterns and behaviors.
The Hawaiians look at things in terms of energy flow, following the idea that an idea or belief can block energy flow as much as muscle tension can. Lomi Lomi helps release the blockages, Thus Lomi Lomi is not just a physical experience; it also facilitates healing on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well. The Hawaiians view all aspects of the body as one and believe that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual are all part of the "whole" self - when healing is effected on one level, all levels are affected. This is balance. True balance.
What happens during a Lomi Lomi Massage?
So, what happens during a Lomi Lomi massage? How is it performed?
Every Lomi session begins with pule (Prayer) and intention. For me, a simple intention would be "Lomi begins when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. I ask myself, how can I contribute?" Alternatively or as well, the client may be asked to set their intention for any healing they would like to receive.
There is a stillness between the practitioner and client - often with the practitioners hands gently resting on the clients back. In this stillness the practitioner will quietly say a chant or prayer asking for whatever healing is needed to take place during the massage.
The Lomi Lomi practitioner then works very intuitively with the client. In this respect there is no set format or sequence for the massage and no two massages will ever be identical.
The massage is given in fluid, rhythmic motion using the forearms as well as the hands. Some people have described this as feeling like gentle waves moving over the body. Another feature is that different parts of the body may be massaged at the same time, for example one arm or hand may be working on a shoulder and the other hand may be working on the opposite hip. This assists the recipient in totally relaxing as it is impossible or at least extremely difficult for the brain to focus on the two different areas at once. By not working on areas in isolation a deep sense of balance and harmony is achieved. The client on the table is not viewed as someone to be fixed, but a being to be returned to harmony and balance. It is important to remember that Lomi does not seek to "fix" any specific thing, but in working on the entire being, the idea is that any specific issue will have been addressed.
What to Expect
Your Lomi experience will take place in a comforting, calm, clean well-heated space.
Hand blended aromatherapy oils, and a combination of music will allow you to be carried away by this wavelike massage.
It’s about being present and supportive and encouraging deep breath. There is generous use of warm oils. So dress and plan accordingly for when you leave.
A word about draping - Lomi draping is often shown on the internet as very minimal. It is true that for some of the strokes more of the body is exposed than in Swedish or Sports massage, however draping is always respectful, and in compliance with local rules. Traditionally, the chest is uncovered briefly for both women and men, for some of the front of the body strokes. No part of the body is ever unnecessarily exposed and is not for titillating purposes but for access. For those who have questions or concerns about the draping, it can always be modified to satisfy the concerns of the client. Lomi can even be done fully clothed! It is a different experience to be sure but Lomi is about the touch, its about the connection, not the amount of exposure. You must have trust between the practitioner and the client to be able to fully "let go" and to allow for complete relaxation.
For those who feel only "deep" work is true massage, I simply offer that Lomi is less invasive but no less effective. Poetically described, "Lomi, in essence, is like floating on a raft in a peaceful lake. You are invited to deeply relax and release stress, to clear my mind and allow yourself to simply be in the moment."
For many who come and experience Lomi for the first time, they often describe it as "the best massage experience ever".
Lomi Lomi is a feast for the senses,
I invite you to try this unique experience for yourself and to make it a regular part of your life, not simply a one time luxury.
A Really Good Massage Blog
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.