Guest Blog By: Jackie Clark
Traditional medicine has begun to approach cancer treatment in a new way, using alternative therapies to promote healing. A diagnosis of cancer carries not just a physical burden, but an emotional one as well, so it’s no wonder that alternative therapies, such as Reiki, aim to treat a patient’s mind and spiritual well-being in addition to his or her body. From the Japanese meaning, “higher power” and “life force energy,” Reiki promotes spiritual healing in which a trained professional channels the energy of the ill patient by the “laying on hands.” First used over 2500 years ago in ancient Tibet, Reiki has been practiced by the Japanese for nearly a century and was introduced to the West in the 1930’s. The therapy is based on the belief that a low life force contributes to stress and illness. Renewing the life force generates a sense of calm, relaxation, increased happiness, reduced muscle fatigue, and a feeling of healing. Because the diagnosis of life-threatening cancers, such as Mesothelioma, causes emotional distress, many cancer patients have turned to Reiki to battle not just cancer but also the side effects of more traditional cancer therapies.
According to the American Cancer Society, not only are more Mesothelioma patients trying Reiki, but also doctors are recommending this alternative therapy and incorporating it as part of their patients’ treatment plans. Reiki is an amazingly simple procedure to perform and unlike other cancer treatments, it is noninvasive and causes few, if any, side effects. Supporters of the therapy suggest that diseases, such as Mesothelioma, block the energy paths within the body. Reiki practitioners use their hands to administer treatment by placing them at specific locations on or above the patient’s body. The practitioner’s hands are used to unblock channels within the patient’s body; the unblocking of these channels realigns the flow of energy. Although more studies are needed to prove the benefits of Reiki, Mesothelioma patients who have tried it report many positive outcomes, such as decreased pain, stress reduction, increased energy, and lessened side effects from traditional cancer treatments. Initial Mesothelioma symptoms are subtle, so by the time diagnosis is made; the cancer has often metastasized before treatment is begun. As a result, the average life expectancy following diagnosis of Mesothelioma is around one year. While Reiki may not offer a standalone cure for aggressive cancers, such as Mesothelioma, it can certainly play a role in the comprehensive care of patients and improve their quality of life.