Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC
Last week, First of Nine posted an article about Susan G. Komen, the huge, non-profit in support of breast cancer. I truly had no idea it would get such a response, reaching a nationwide audience.
To recap… I have a friend at a local Portland, Oregon non-profit that was setting up a booth at Susan G. Komen’s annual breast cancer conference in Portland, Oregon. She invited me to offer massage at the event and connect with the oncology world.
She contacted Toni Mountain at Susan G. Komen and was given quite a response, saying massage was not permitted at the event. Check out First of Nine’s original post, Susan G. Komen says massage is illegal?! An opportunity to educate!
So, my friend went to the annual conference and saw quite a few other complimentary and alternative medicine modalities represented.
The conference included booths from the following organizations:
• IntelliFitness (a software company for big health clubs and gyms)
• NCNM (National College of Natural Medicine)
• OCOM (Oregon College of Oriental Medicine)
• Northwest Reiki Association
That’s fine. And, interesting that Reiki was welcomed, with no licensing or education requirements. Now then, some of my best friends are Reiki masters and I’m Reiki, level II, so I have all kinds of love for energy work. I just find it all rather curious.
So, after what I perceived to be a rather crude snub on the noble profession of massage therapy, I started writing letters to the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists, the ABMP, the AMTA, the Society for Oncology Massage and other professional massage organizations. And, then I wrote to both the national and local affiliates of Susan G. Komen asking why massage was not allowed at their event.
After the weekend, Susan G. Komen gave me a call and left a voicemail. The next day, I talked to Toni Mountain.
Toni suggested that she never used the word ”illegal.” Perhaps it was a misunderstanding. Things like that happen during conversation. Bygones. However, Susan G. Komen’s attorneys advised that my friend’s non-profit could be sued, Susan G. Komen could be sued and the venue, the Oregon Convention Center, could be sued if massage therapy was offered at the event.
So, there was Susan G. Komen’s explanation for why massage was not allowed or not permitted at their conference in Portland, Oregon.
Do we really live in a world where the art of touch, of contact and connection, brings on fear of legal action? That’s not the community I know in Portland, Oregon. And, that’s not the mindset I wish to nurture in my local community. That’s not the Stumptown way.
There are thousands of licensed massage therapists in Oregon. An LMT has a license to touch. In a world where doctors rarely touch their patients, massage therapists can offer therapeutic touch to those in pain in any setting or location. Yeah, we can do that.
Massage therapy and bodywork has been shown to reduce treatment related side effects in cancer patients, to reduce pain in cancer patients and to reduce treatment related fatigue in cancer patients. Touch empowers, reclaiming the body from the medical community and regaining one’s sense of self. Touch is an essential element in cancer survivorship, an essential element in developing kinesthetic awareness, an essential element in healing.
Here in Portlandia, we’re bringing massage and bodywork to cancer survivorship programs. I recently read that 80% of breast cancer patients seek out complimentary and alternative forms of health care. It saddens me to hear that Susan G. Komen is selectively cutting funding from local non-profits that have massage and acupuncture programs, as it is seen as a form of ”medical treatment” which they do not support.
So, Susan G. Komen… Here in Portland, Oregon, we’re building a community that cares. Where compassion comes before fear of litigation. We have a lot of folks with fresh ideas that want to help survivors of cancer through natural, hands-on methods. We’re here to inspire!
Let’s bring cancer care into the twenty-first century with collaboration, communication and compassion here in Portlandia. Let’s develop a new model for how we care for one another. This rare lymphoma survivor will do his part, but I can’t do it alone. It takes a village… it takes a community.
So, c’mon Susan G. Komen… Put a bird on it!
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