For Some, Reiki Makes All the Difference

By Cancer Foundation on March 4 / 2019


A few years ago, Julie was taken by surprise with a sudden diagnosis of cervical cancer. Her situation forced her to begin radiation and chemotherapy immediately, but her cancer and treatments left her with pain so significant she had to start walking with a cane.

“Certain daily activities became very difficult,” Julie says. “I was prescribed a top dosage of almost every type of pain medication, and needed to take them every day.”

Julie had known about Reiki before her cancer diagnosis, but found out it was being offered at the Maplesoft Centre since she was already going there for her Cancer Coaching appointments. She had been trying many strategies to manage her pain, stress, and emotions, but she was still exhausted from trying to push through the chemotherapy-related fatigue.

“It’s only when you can deal with the cause of the illness, or the problems you can identify within you, that you can turn around and find the appropriate solution,” Julie says.

Though she didn’t know what the outcome would be, she decided to book a Reiki session with James, one of the Maplesoft Centre’s volunteer Reiki practitioners. The benefits were almost immediate.

“After a session, so many emotions are cleared up and released…I feel peace rather than focusing on the problems I’m facing,” Julie says. “I can feel the pain leaving my body, and afterwards I can sometimes go up to three days without taking a single dose of my pain medications.”

One day, she even got up off the table and was heading for the door when James said, “Julie, where’s your cane?”

“I felt so great that I just forgot about it,” she laughs.

But for Julie, strength was never just physical anyway. “Our strength doesn’t come from lifting physical weights,” she says, “It comes from lifting ourselves back up each time we get knocked down.”

Reiki volunteers like James have been a big part of the Maplesoft Centre since it opened in 2011, offering their healing strategies to patients with a wide variety of concerns. The sessions have been so popular over the years that many clients have had to wait several weeks for an appointment, so we have increased our volunteers to nine wonderful practitioners who give their time to provide Reiki for our Cancer Coaching clients.

So, what is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese alternative medicine technique used for physical and mental healing. It supports mental and emotional clarity, and encourages spiritual well-being. To administer Reiki, a practitioner uses their hands to channel life force energy through to another person, focusing their attention on their client’s unique needs. It’s said that this helps encourage negative energy like stress, pain, anxiety, sadness, and anger to release and allow the practitioner to clear the energy pathways. This clarity can help some clients feel better mentally, physically, or both. For Julie, the two are deeply connected.

“Reiki has brought me a lot of emotional healing too,” she says. “You really can’t run away from your pain, and I believe the only way to truly get rid of it is to address the underlying emotions. The more I choose to let go instead of holding on to anger or resentment, the more the physical pain and tension leaves my body.”

Julie says the sessions help her relax, cope better with stress, see and think more clearly, improve her decision-making skills, and process the more difficult emotions she has been setting aside. “It’s like it clears up my emotional congestion,” she says. “It reminds me not to judge too quickly, and helps me figure out what the real lessons to be learned from a particular situation are. That’s how I continue to grow and learn.”

Everyone gets something different and unique from Reiki, and even people who do not consider themselves as spiritual can have a very positive experience. Julie agrees – though she is a spiritual person, she says you don’t have to be in order to benefit from a Reiki session. “You don’t have to believe in the energy, or connect to the spiritual aspect of Reiki to benefit from it,” she says. “It helps if you do, but it’s not a necessity.”

To her, it’s all about communication with the practitioner. James will ask questions about her health and well-being so he knows how to help, and will offer visualizations and other prompts to help her get the most of their sessions. Julie will also tell him if there’s something in particular she’s been struggling with, what emotions she’s feeling, or the areas of the body she wants him to focus on.

“Some days I ask him to work on my brain, because I need more emotional healing. Sometimes I point out an area that’s been causing me pain. Reiki is a combination of all three aspects, physical, emotional, and spiritual.”

Today, Julie is staying positive throughout her cancer journey by focusing on the lessons she can learn from difficulty, and by setting intentions for healing. She has been through many changes in a very short period, but says the only way to reach the finish line in a challenging situation is to run the race. “You can’t try to outrun your cancer, or rush or skip steps in your healing. I do believe things happen for a reason, and trusting and believing that they will work out is a choice that we often forget to make,” she says. “Dealing with an unexpected and sudden cancer diagnosis really changes you, and you can’t help but change the way you see life.”

“Cancer or no Cancer, Reiki has helped me remember that happiness is a choice rather than a destination,” she says. “Even if you’re faced with something as difficult as cancer, you can still choose gratitude and happiness.” Reiki now helps her to open up and address her emotions to achieve this, and to move with more physical and mental ease.

“In life, things can always go wrong, but they can also get better if we choose to continue fighting,” she says. “When things crumble, it’s a great opportunity to clean them up in order build new foundations.”

“And, there are so many ways to heal,” she adds. “It’s important to pick the ones that resonate best with you.”

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