Just do it! NHS Certificate in Complementary Therapy (Cancer Pathway) With the aim of gaining practical experience as a complementary therapist in a cancer-care setting, I found my way to the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Cancer Centre in Harrogate where the first NHS Natural Therapy School is based, for the 12 week program leading to the NHS Certificate in Complementary Therapy (Cancer Pathway). This program offered an unique opportunity to learn and work within a professional, supportive and caring team, to NHS standards, while helping people during their cancer treatments, their carers, and patients on wards in the main hospital, through the power of touch – in my case, aromatherapy massage. The required medical and professional standards were obviously very high, and I was a bit daunted at first. There was a lot to learn about professional standards in the NHS, about the many forms of cancer and how these impact on people and how to tailor treatments to individual circumstances and the constraints of being on a hospital ward. However, as experiences go, this was probably one of the most rewarding professional and human experiences I have had, if not the most. Underpinning this was the expert and ongoing coaching and guidance from Gwyn Featonby, who leads the program, and support from Beverly Harrison and the wider team, which was invaluable. “Light touch” but the right touch. Also, the chance to work with and learn from fellow therapists was an added bonus. Through evidence-based practice, it was satisfying to see positive results for patients. Being accepted by medical professionals as part of the wider team supporting patients was amazing. So, if I have any advice for anyone considering embarking on this journey, it would be to “just do it”!
A system of complementary medicine in which fine needles are inserted in the skin at specific points along what are considered to be lines of energy (meridians), used in the treatment of various physical and mental conditions. (Oxford English Dictionary accessed 16.3.18)
Auricular or ear acupuncture allows us to treat many patients at once. We use recliner chairs in a quiet room with subdued lighting and gentle music. Patients can rest quietly for 30-40 minutes with their needles in place and symptom measurement tools show that many patients benefit significantly from a reduction in both frequency and intensity of their symptoms. Patients may have persistent symptoms many years after their cancer has gone due to side effects from the cancer treatments, (such as nerve damage from chemotherapy or scar tissue), or on going treatment to reduce the likelihood of the cancer coming back (namely hormone deprivation drugs in breast and prostate cancers). Most patients will come each week for a treatment initially and once they feel better the appointments are spread out further so some patients might come every few weeks, or months to keep on top of their symptoms. Of course where patients require body treatments privacy and single appointments are still necessary but the vast amount respond well within the group setting.
Our group treatments are held in the Ripley Room within the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre.
Patients will have a private consultation with the complementary Therapist and give informed consent before receiving treatment.