Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2016

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92 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 By Steve Gordon HAND TO HEART How I found my passion in oncology massage It was a routine I had repeated many times: drive to the home of my client, Pat, about 25 miles from my office, carry my table through her kitchen and into her bedroom, set it up in a narrow space between her bed and a window-side chair, and give her a massage tailored to the limitations imposed by her metastatic cancer. Over time, and inevitably, the routine began to change. I had been visiting Pat for more than two years, starting when she was referred to a nonprofit program I founded that provides free massage to people with cancer. Pat had extensive and growing tumors in her abdomen and pelvis, so moving around was difficult and painful. Getting on the table became impossible, and I started working with her on her bed. The end of her long journey was getting close, and my massage visits to her home—which she shared with her daughter, son-in-law, and two young grandchildren—became more frequent. We'd had a lot of wonderful talks before, but in her last weeks she was often too tired to converse, and then she was not awake at all. She died shortly after my last visit; her daughter sent a note to my nonprofit later to express how the visits had helped her mother, and her.

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