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Area cancer patients get help from ancient relaxation technique, Gaston Gazette 2009

Area cancer patients get help from ancient relaxation technique

September 28, 2009 8:54 AM
Bernie Petit, Gaston Gazette

It’s not a treatment. It’s not a diagnosis.

But for several cancer patients and survivors in Gaston County, Reiki – an ancient form of complementary medicine – has become a way to help reduce stress and pain, improve energy flow and increase relaxation during or following one of the most trying times of their lives.

“It might not cure your cancer, but it will definitely help you recover and heal,” said Bill Coryer, founder of Pineville-based Reiki Education, Inc., which partners with the CaroMont Cancer Center in Gastonia to offer free Reiki sessions monthly to area folks diagnosed with cancer. The pilot program took place in March and the regular monthly sessions began in June.

The concept behind Reiki, which Coryer said has been around in some form for centuries, is that energy comes from a universal source and that all living things have a connection to that energy source. Without that connection, he said, you stop functioning.

Think of it this way: all human beings, according to Reiki theory, are made up of energy and exert what is called an energy field from their bodies. Some people refer to the energy field as having an aura, Coryer said.

“You’ve probably walked into a party and felt the energy in a room and how excited everybody was,” he said. “To the contrary, you’ve probably walked into a room where there’s not much energy at all. What you’re doing is picking up on people’s energies.”

The problem, particularly with stressful illnesses such as cancer, is that people’s energy gets clogged, Coryer said. That’s where Reiki comes in. Similar to how acupuncture works on invisible energy lines that correspond to the flow of energy in the body, Reiki practitioners are said to channel extra energy through people’s bodies to “flush out some of the garbage.”

Only they do so in a noninvasive way – meaning without needles – through the use of different hand positions. The six Reiki hand positions used at the local Reiki sessions are over the top of the head (or crown), temples, eyes, shoulders, heart and feet.

It differs from massage in that practitioners do not have to touch the fully-clothed participants and that muscles are not manipulated. Some people who go through the process, however, do experience a massage-like state of relaxation afterward.

“I feel like I’ve slept for about 10 hours,” said Jeff Howe of Gastonia, a prostate cancer survivor, after a recent Reiki sessions. “I normally weigh around 200 pounds, but I feel like I weigh 100 pounds now. It just relieves the stress.”

The belief is that by relaxing cancer patients and survivors in such a way, their bodies will be more receptive to Western medications and treatments, Coryer said.

“I see Reiki as another tool to reduce the anxiety” patients may have, said Dr. Charles Meakin, director of the CaroMont Cancer Center. “Relaxed patients tend to have less pain and nausea, sleep better and therefore better quality of life during treatment and follow-up. We can only guess whether this improves outcome but that would be another added benefit.”

The CaroMont Cancer Center has seen an overwhelming improvement in the reported level of pain and anxiety for cancer patients after Reiki sessions, said Beth York, an oncology counselor for the CaroMont Cancer Center. York said the majority of participants that have gone through a session have reported a reduction of pain and anxiety afterward, with nearly half reporting a complete eradication of pain/anxiety immediately following a session.

“We’ve been so pleased that something so simple can make such a profound difference,” she said. “We don’t know the lasting effects of this, but if it provides relief for even a brief time, it’s worth it to the patient.”

Free Reiki Sessions for Cancer Patients and Survivors

The CaroMont Cancer Center is partnering with volunteers from Reiki Education, Inc. to offer free Reiki sessions to community members diagnosed with cancer. Reiki is an ancient form of complementary medicine intended to increase relaxation, improve energy flow, reduce pain and other symptoms and increase feelings of well-being.

During Reiki, the practitioner places his or her hands on, or a few inches above, the survivor’s fully-clothed body and moves their hands to specific areas thought to store blocked energy.

The experience is also open to any cancer survivor. Sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at the CaroMont Cancer Center. Reservations are required, call 704-834-2932 or email owenbym@gmh.org. To learn more about programs and services at the CaroMont Cancer Center, visit www.caromontcancercenter.org.

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