Cancer Support

By Ann O'Malley, RN, HTCP-I

The Healing Touch Clinic at The Cancer Institute at Alexian Brothers Medical Center began September 2002. My inspiration to offer the clinic came from two sources. First, my mentor, Mary Sinclair, provided opportunities for me to work on the public which assisted me in trusting the work. Prior to that I felt my family and friends were just being nice telling me that Healing Touch helped them.

Second, Kathy Sinnett, an instructor from Michigan who started a HT Clinic there, put a bug in my ear. At the time I had a monthly practice group in my home, a few of which I was mentoring. I asked them if they would like to volunteer weekly if I could find a location for a clinic to work on the public. With visions of a faster way to do their 100 documented sessions, they wholeheartedly said “Yes!”

Judy Koptic, Director of Radiation Oncology (and HT student) offered her department. She said we could freely use the space as long as we offered sessions free to the public. We have cared for many of their patients. This is a response to our survey from one of them, “Healing Touch has been an important part in my cancer treatment. My overall wellbeing has remained steady.” Another reported, “The students were very professional, as well as caring and compassionate.”

Our Mission Statement is “To offer health-promoting benefits of HT to the Chicagoland community and to provide an environment for the development of HT students under the guidance of Certified Instructors and Practitioners.”

There has been a steady stream of volunteers through the years. There have been 120 volunteers ranging from HT Levels 1-5, of which 24 have become HTCP’s! We currently have 16 active volunteers, of which five are HTCP Supervisors. Six years ago decreased from weekly to twice monthly as the number of volunteers declined. We have offered just under 1000 sessions to the public since we began, and a couple of dozen of our clients have taken at least a Level 1 class! To promote self care I also leave slots open for the students to receive a session.

We begin the evening with group mediation followed by two 55 minute sessions. HT Level 4 Apprentices or Level 3 Students are the case managers and team with a Level 1 or 2 student when available. They may not offer techniques the other student hasn’t been trained in. Supervisors go in and out of the rooms to check on the students and answer any questions. When the clients leave we have a post conference time for Q&A, technique review, sharing or ethics discussion. We have created a wonderful community of like-minded people! Even though we leave late on a Thursday evening, no one wants to go home. The support, caring and energy is so special.

I’m proud to say that our efforts have spread to other areas as well. A few of our past volunteers started an HT Healing Ministry at their church. One volunteer who became an HTCP started a Healing Touch clinic at an affiliate hospital and an HT Apprentice started a monthly clinic in the cancer program at another local hospital. A current HT Apprentice has brought Healing Touch to Interfaith House, caring for the homeless.

I wish to thank volunteers everywhere for shining your Light and for bringing healing and comfort whenever you can!