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”!
This treatment was developed in 2000 and has been used to great effect on our cancer unit. It is a wonderfully relaxing massage using a combination of effleurage movements with specific acupressure circling. The contact area is across the shoulders, ears, neck, scalp and face, thus working around all the sensory organs and energetically with the central nervous system, whilst easing neck and shoulder tension.
The theory behind this massage lies in traditional Chinese medicine, so covers yin and yang, five elements and Chinese face reading from a health perspective. It enables the emotional elements behind disease to be explored. For example, the Chinese will say that grief is held in the Lung, anger in the liver, and fear in the kidney.
For this half hour massage there is no need for the patient to remove clothes, so it is a lovely way of receiving a massage where body image may be an issue, or where lines and feeds are in place, making removal of clothes difficult. This massage therapy can be given not only in a clinic, but also on the day unit, on hospital wards and even in an intensive care unit.
In working the meridian system the therapist is able to work the whole body, reaching areas other than the contact zone. Patients have commented that this deeply relaxing and soothing massage is; “one of the best massages I have ever had”. It has been proven to be beneficial with problems of; sleep, headaches, anxiety, watery eyes, shoulder and neck tension, sinusitis and panic attacks, jaw tension, fear, emotional trauma/distress.
Patients are treated in a private treatment room in the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre. Patients will have a one to one consultation with the complementary Therapist and give informed consent before receiving treatment.