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In my healing practice I have watched Healing Touch sessions make a remarkable and dramatic difference in the lives of my clients who were going through chemotherapy and radiation. Because of this, I would like to see every person with a cancer diagnosis have access to Healing Touch treatments.
That’s why I have been a volunteer at the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic in Oakland since 2008.
The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic (CMCC) is a state licensed primary care clinic and a community of healthcare practitioners dedicated to bringing low-income women alternative healthcare. Designed to work alongside the services of a primary care physician, CMCC is also a center where women with a cancer diagnosis can find consistent physical, emotional and spiritual support through healing modalities.
The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic was named after social worker Charlotte Maxwell, who died of ovarian cancer in 1988. Charlotte was an extraordinary woman who found that complementary therapies greatly enhanced the quality of her life, especially in the final months. Her healthcare practitioners were so inspired by her spirit that they founded The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic. They wanted to make acupuncture, energy work and other complementary modalities accessible to women who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
Navigating our healthcare system, even with insurance and a strong emotional and financial support system, can be overwhelming. Navigating our healthcare system without insurance can be devastating. At CMCC, it is so rewarding to see a women who looked fatigued and exhausted, walk out or her Healing Touch session with a smile on her face so much more relaxed.
At CMCC I have worked with women of all ages and diverse cultural backgrounds. I find it so exciting to work in a clinic where the value of complementary modalities is understood and put into action in the community. The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic is a working model of how people with cancer are benefiting from alternative medicine in our healthcare system.
Volunteering at CMCC is a rewarding experience. As a volunteer, I received a weekend of orientation and training, and was then scheduled for one shift a month with clients. I see three clients during my shift. I get there thirty minutes before my first client to look over the medical charts. Everything about the client is in the charts: when she was diagnosed, what kind of cancer she has or had, what Western treatments she is currently going through, and any contraindications. I can look at what modalities or treatments the client has had in the past and read the notes from those practitioners. If the woman doesn’t speak English, that is also in the file and the clinic usually provides a translator.
Sessions with clients are 50 minutes each. At the end of each shift all practitioners and staff support gather to check in. Check-ins have been extremely educational for me. I have learned so much more about cancer and the current Western medical therapies. By listening to the other practitioners, I have also learned the amazing benefits of other complementary modalities such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Therapeutic Imagery, Feldenkrais and Western Herbs.
At the check-in, if circumstances warrant it, practitioners can write referrals for their clients to the CMCC staff. This could be for a woman who needs special preparation before an upcoming surgery or a client who needs special care due to an infection. Appropriate staff members will then call the client and make sure the client is taken care of.
The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic also has presentations and workshops for volunteers on each modality the clinic offers and lectures on topics such as “The Basics of the Biology of Cancer.” I attended two separate talks on chemotherapy by oncology nurses from the Bay Area that have been extremely helpful while working at the clinic and in my private practice.
Since volunteering at The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic I can picture how our healthcare system can integrate Healing Touch and other complementary modalities into our medical culture. It is inspiring to work in a community with so many caring and committed women coming together to help each other. Working at Charlotte Maxwell gives me the hope to believe we can change our healthcare system to a culture where everyone is cared for emotionally, physically and energetically.
The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has an office in San Francisco and an office in Oakland, California. To find out more and to support the work of CMCC click here.
Jeri Lawson is a Healing Touch Practitioner and Clarity Breathworker in the Temescal Area of Oakland, California.
For my clients going through chemotherapy, I am finding that the Healing Touch sessions I do with them is greatly reducing, if not eliminating, neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a side effect of chemotherapy and is mostly felt in the hands and feet. Symptoms include: tingling, pain, cramping, loss of the sensation of touch, weakness when picking up objects and sensitivity to temperature. Symptoms are usually most strongly experienced right after a chemotherapy treatment. Then the sensations usually decrease with time.
I first noticed how effective Healing Touch was with neuropathy several years ago while volunteering at the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic in Oakland. My friend and Healing Touch Practitioner colleague Laurie Ratto mentioned that her client at Charlotte Maxwell had greatly reduced numbness in her feet after her Healing Touch session. I realized then that I was also noticing how my clients with pain and cramping in their feet, legs and hands were also commenting how much less intense their symptoms felt after our Healing Touch session together.
In my private practice I recently had a client who had such extreme coldness and numbing sensations in her hands that she wore gloves to her Healing Touch session on a very warm day. She came right after her chemotherapy infusion. After the healing she had no numbness in her hands at all. Zero. It was amazing. She also reported later that she had only very minor neuropathy sensations later that week. She was amazed.
In my practice it seems that Healing Touch has the greatest effect on neuropathy if the client gets a healing session right after each and every chemotherapy treatment. I currently have one client who was warned by her doctor that she might experience neuropathy during her current chemotherapy, but she is over halfway through her treatments and there are only very minimal sensations in her hands and feet. Her blood count has also held steady and her doctors are very pleased. She also comes every week, on the same day as her chemo treatment. Even though our Healing Touch sessions are obviously minimizing the side effects of her chemo, she finds our healing sessions also helps her stay calm and grounded.
I have worked with clients at the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic who still have neuropathy months after their chemo treatments have ended. I have had only minimal success releasing the neuropathy with only one treatment in these cases. I would love to do a series of healings with someone post chemo to see if it would help.
Peripheral neuropathy can be challenging to deal with during chemotherapy and affects your quality of life significantly. Healing Touch has helped my clients have one less physical issue to deal. It’s very, very satisfying to know I am making a difference in my clients’ lives.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer and would like to receive Healing Touch, there are many Certified Healing Touch Practitioners and several no cost options in The San Francisco Bay Area. One is the Haelen Center in Lafayette, California that I wrote about in this post. Another is The Charlotte Maxwell Clinics in Oakland and San Francisco that provides free complementary alternative medical treatments to low-income woman with a cancer diagnoses.
Every person who decides to go through chemotherapy should have access to Healing Touch.
The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic is a state licensed health clinic that provides alternative healing modalities to low-income women with a cancer diagnosis. The clinic offers Massage, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Western Herbs, Therapeutic Imagery, Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Healing Touch and more. There will be future posts about the amazing Charlotte Maxwell Clinic and about my experience in working with clients diagnosed with cancer.
I volunteer at Charlotte Maxwell doing Healing Touch in the Oakland clinic. Last Saturday the Clinic hosted a workshop on Lymphedema and the benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage. There are many causes of Lymphedema, but the most common in my private and volunteer practice is the swelling of the lymphatic system caused by the surgical removal of the lymph nodes due to breast cancer.
Gay Lee Gulbrandson CLT-LANA was the presenter. She has practiced and taught MLD (Manual Lymph Drainage) since 1996. I was impressed by her experience, commitment and the deep compassion she has for her clients. This woman is making a very positive difference in the world. It was so inspiring.
I learned a lot about edema, the difference between traditional massage and MLD, the basic MLD contraindications, and reviewed the lymphatic system. I can now identify the symptoms of cellulitus and know what questions to ask if I suspect my client has cellulitus. I can also “read” the skin of my clients from a lymphatic perspective.
I find this new awareness very exciting and it helps me understand with more clarity the information that I have been intuitively getting through many years of doing touch therapies. I can see a Lymphatic Drainage class in my future for this reason alone.
Gay Lee did a few short Manual Lymph Drainage strokes on everyone that attended the seminar so we could feel the light pressure used in the work. She even had a pressure gauge that measured the weight of our fingers so we could see the proper pressure shifts that need to happen in each stroke.
Now being so much more aware of what Manual Lymph Drainage can do I can refer my clients when appropriate to at least three highly trained Lymphatic Drainage Therapists in the East Bay. I can also help them get the information they need on how to get properly fitted for compression sleeves and bandaging. It’s shocking that simple information like this has become so difficult to find in our healthcare system.
I was also surprised at how many conditions MLD can benefit besides Lymphedema brought on by cancer and surgery. This modality can really benefit conditions such as pre/post cosmetic surgery, varicose veins, and rosacea, just to name a few.
If you have Lymphedema or know someone who has it, you can contact Gay Lee Gulbrandson for more information. If you are a woman on a tight budget and are living with cancer you may contact the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic for help, information and alternative treatments. If you would like to make a donation to the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic you can do so here.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.