I was inspired to write this post after listening to a discussion about Reiki at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. The Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia is exploring the intersection of science, spirituality, and psychology. It is the first in the Ivy League to do so. The Institute is bringing together thought leaders, visionaries, healers, and psychologists.
Dr. Sheldon Feldman, Chief of Breast Surgery at New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center , and Raven Keyes, a Reiki Master shared their decades of work together. Dr. Feldman reflected on the beginning of his career, with the loss of his young sister to breast cancer. That was the catalyst that changed his idea of becoming a heart surgeon, an instead becoming a highly respected and renowned breast surgeon. Throughout his career, he has learned that traditional medical treatment is very individualized, and alternative therapies are often explored. There is a paradigm shift where healing modalites are more and more accepted as mainstream. Reiki is one of those modalities. Raven Keyes works along side Dr. Feldman in the operating room giving Reiki to those women who wish to have it. Reiki is very beneficial during surgery as it helps to alleviate fear, pain, and the feeling of loss of control. As a nurse and a Reiki Master, myself, I have experienced first hand the enormous benefits before and after surgery, throughout treatment, and during life as a cancer survivor. Dr. Feldman and Raven offering Reiki in the operating room are true healers in every sense of the word.
Stress is unfortunately all too common when one is living with cancer. It manifests both emotionally and physically with anxiety, fatigue, and depression to name a few of the symptoms. Quality of life certainly takes a major hit as one endures treatment. What can one do to lessen the burden – begin a yoga class.
The ancient practice is not new. It has long been studied with cancer patients, resulting in enormous benefits. The practice of yoga can improve one’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. The following is a study from the University of Rochester where it reported an improved quality of life, reduced fatigue and improved sleep.
In between the times of working with breast cancer survivors, I spent a few years working as a clinical coordinator of a palliative care program in a community hospital. It was during this time, I made contact with Amy Berman, a registered nurse and senior program officer at the John A Hartford Foundation in New York City. In a her blog she wrote an article “Living Life In My Own Way – And Dying That Way As Well.” (April 12, 2012) Her article inspired me to write an editorial response and thus my communication with Amy. Recently, I came across another article of Amy’s where she articulates how important end-of-life planning is and how such conversations have been the vehicle of her survivorship.
Here is the article from the Washinton Post – a story of perseverance and encouragement, that I hope gives hope to those living with breast cancer. Washington Post Article