First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog

Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Bringing massage to cancer survivorship

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Richard Buckminster Fuller

Before I met Tracy Webb, I had no survivorship community. Didn’t know such a thing existed. She’s one of the gifted few that have shown me that there is a glimmer of compassion in the oncology field. By golly, someone gives a hoot.

She first contacted me a couple years back, before her move to Portland. Asked me for a photo for her thesis. Now Tracy is helping to build cancer survivorship in Vancouver, Washington and at the Rose Quarter Compass Oncology in Portland , Oregon.

Tracy is amazing. I lost track of how many marathons she’s completed. I believe she did Boston in three hours twenty six minutes. We run our pack of pups at the delta, then snag the best Peruvian, wood-fired, cooked with love, rotisserie chicken in the region at El Inka out in Gresham proper.

Thus far, 2012 has proven quite fascinating. The conversations I have had are like none I had experienced before.

I was invited to a cancer provider’s dinner. What joy to give cutting edge plastic surgeon’s a hug! And, asking them about lumbar pain and core instability as they are using groundbreaking techniques, taking tissue from rectus abdominus. They are able to do reconstructions here in Portland that folks used to have to travel to St. Louis to receive.

I got to chat pelvic floor disfunction and sacral imbalance with a vulvar pain specialist. Her research is helping many partners become quite satisfied! Oh, beHAVE!


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society contacted me. We met at the Tao of Tea on SE Belmont. I walked away from the meeting carrying a folder that reads “Champions of Hope: Man and Woman of the Year.” She asked me to be a celebrity. I’m not exactly a suit and tie guy, like previous champions. So, I told ’em, maybe next year, after I find my footing and develop more community support.

I just heard on The Nerdist podcast that Harry Shearer was on the pilot of Leave it to Beaver. Bygones.

Suddenly, I have a meeting with Susan G. Komen’s local survivors program manager. I stretched and danced and moved and breathed on the big stone steps on the way up to the meeting. Susan G Komen have pink everything! Shiny pink coasters and pink, plastic bottles of water!

A couple oncology massage therapists were there and the president of the Society for Oncology Massage was on conference call from Washington D. C.

It was a lovely meeting. They asked me what I wanted to see in the community. So, I told ’em.

Massage therapists need to be valued as health care practitioners, while building a long-term perspective on cancer survivorship here in Stumptown. I told ’em we can approach oncology massage from a perspective of mechanosensing, awareness, compassion and listening touch. I told ’em about the food delivery program of Daniel Miller and MaryJane Hoadley of Adulu Stew. Local food as medicine for cancer survivorship. Done right, as we partner chefs and local, organic, sustainable, farmers, naturopathic doctors and oncologists. I told ’em about Taking Care, bringing complimentary care, nutrition and musical art together. In September, we held our second event at NCNM, featuring community, clothing-on massage with live sound therapy, group acupuncture and local cancer resources. I told ’em, we’re building community here in Portland, Oregon.

And, Susan G. Komen listened.

Susan G. Komen said they’d start talking with doctors about massage therapy. The Society for Oncology Massage said they’d do whatever they could to help me reach my goals. One of the oncology massage therapists working at OHSU alongside the docs thanked me. She said they had never been “invited to the table.” Those folks are asked to volunteer one day a week for a year. Sans paycheck.


The conversations of 2012 were of unfamiliar, brilliant territory.

Even conversations with bodywork clients have shifted, and we talk about proprioception and neuroplasticity, exploring the unmapped intricacies of mind-body connectivity. It all makes for a snazzy week!

The year continues to be amazing.

One superbly wonderful thing… My dear friend Tracy is getting married. As I type this… She’s gettin’ hitched tomorrow. By the time this gets posted, she’ll be back from one heck of a lifetime journey, with her new partner. She’s got the eye of one of the nicest lads you’ll ever meet. Can’t think of a finer match. Congrats, Tracy and Morgan! Love and love!

I’m honored to be playing a couple tunes at the ceremony with her super awesome, quite gifted singer friend, Avee. Her hubby Lloyd will be rocking out on tambourine. Total fun!

“I’ve died and turned into a Roman. It’s very distracting.” -Rory on Dr. Who, exploring the experience of reincarnation.

2012 has been a year of making friends with my amygdala. Of selling my childhood homestead. A time of transitioning relationships. Of discovering new partnerships and friendships of sacred levels of authenticity. Creating the personal resilience to take this bodywork practice to the next chapter.

I’ve learned to wake before the alarm and allow myself to enjoy the morning light. I’ve learned more about my truest, highly imperfect nature. I’ve learned a level of forgiveness and trust, all new to me. Taking old patterns and giving ’em a mind frisk. Are they holding? Still useful? Drop a thought like a pebble. See if that worry stone in your pocket is gonna skip ‘cross the glassy pond.

I’ve carried these bones
Along this old road
Past all the fields of home

And, I see… And, I see
The road before me
Just past the end of my nose

I once was a man
With sword drawn to hand
Ready for what came my way.

But I dropped that sharp load
Along this winding road

Just to see what
Will become of


-the ballad of ronin. Old tune of mine.

October of 2012 marks ten years since becoming a licensed massage therapist in the state of Oregon. And, what a brilliant decade it has been.

The career of a massage therapist, version 2.0

Reincarnation of the cool.

Hamid : )

Music bonus!

Here’s Avee Runser and I covering a ditty by Steve Earle. Avee and I met the day before the wedding and played for the first time together. The next morning, I brought the iPad 2 with a camera connection kit and an M-Audio Producer USB mic. The recording was captured by Multitrack DAW app. Many thanks to Steve Frost for loaning us his carbon fiber steel string.

For momma bear… This is Every Part of Me

Music, music, bonus, bonus!

Last night, some dear friends and I caught the opening night to Black Lizard at Imago Theater. What a snazzy show. A superbly dark, humorous, boldly daring multi-media production with a strong nod to film noir. A Japanese love story in the tangled web of human trafficking. I dig knowing folks from the theater… We were graced with free tickets. Thank you Sumi!

Black Lizard is running through November 4th. I highly recommend this shocking, sensory-rich production! Check out Imago Theater’s website for more info…

There are lovely muses that grace my life. The conversations and laughter from spending time with dear friends will often bring out a bit of music in me. Upon returning home from the evening out, I grabbed Lucky and began to plunk.

This is Blue Tortoise

Just finding First of Nine: Tensegrity Blog? Deep dive with massage articles, photography, video and music in Stumptown’s Massage and Bodywork Zine!

Disrupting the positive feedback loop of chronic pain
Pendulation rhythm, trauma release and bodywork
Susan G. Komen and massage for cancer: an update

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psst… psst… Follow Hamid on Twitter!

6 comments on “Bringing massage to cancer survivorship

  1. Maryjane
    October 11, 2012

    Hamid – what a gift you are to the world. Knowing you is changing my life, working with you is changing the world. Here’s to creating movement! On every level! I’m so so pleased to be journeying this journey with you, I can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings us!

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Compassion Arts PDX, LLC

Hamid Shibata Bennett, LMT, CAMT (OBMT #301)
Advanced massage therapy and bodywork
3810 SE Belmont ST
Portland, Oregon 97214

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