Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2021

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14 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 2 1 Working behind a desk to line someone else's pocket was not what I wanted out of a career. I wanted a vocation that allowed me to be active and do a little good for my community. After realizing this, I went back to school to become a massage therapist. One of my first clients was a woman in her late 60s named Nancy. Nancy quickly became one of my favorite clients and, eventually, a friend. When Nancy came into the office for her weekly appointments, we would slide easily into conversation, and our 50-minute session would feel like five minutes. Nancy told me stories about her past, her job as a paraprofessional, her children, her grandchildren, and her husband of 41 years. She would bring me homemade baked goods (mostly cookies) because she knew I got hungry later in my shift. I never told her, MIND OF AN MT Death of a Client An MT's Personal Account of Grief and Loss By Samantha Lynn K ARIM MANJRA/UNSPL ASH but I would often have to give away her treats because of my lactose intolerance. Mostly, I brought them home to my husband who never complained. Even if I couldn't always eat what she brought me, the gesture was what counted. About a year after we met, Nancy was diagnosed with lung cancer. Having never smoked and being in fairly good health, she was floored by the news, but she was determined to come out on top. She had an intense surgery removing part of her right lung. Understandably, I didn't see her for a few weeks, but she kept me updated and insisted everything went well. After her surgery, Nancy was doing fairly well despite some fatigue and pain around her incision, which we always focused on during her sessions. She was in great shape for several months and would tell me about all of her appointments, often joking about her young, good-looking doctors. At the end of Nancy's sessions, we had a routine. First, I would help her clasp her necklace back around her neck. Then, I would tell her to eat good food and drink plenty of water. Often, she would reply, "Pizza and vodka, got it," or "Well, you're no fun." I would laugh and tell her again, "Water, Nancy." We would sometimes hug, and she would be on her way. Her visits were predictable, as was our dialogue, but her presence was comforting and always made me smile. In late 2019, Nancy's cancer came back in several different parts of her body, including her kidneys and, unfortunately, her brain. This time she lost weight and just a little bit of her fire, which I had come to admire. During our 50 minutes, we would talk strategy, and I would tell her not to give up. She always replied, "I won't. I've got too much to do still." Some days were better than others. Some days she was exhausted and discouraged. Some days she was angry that she couldn't garden or do activities like she used to. But overall, her spirit remained high considering her circumstances, and she stayed fairly busy with easy hobbies and family.

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