A Connection Between An Animal Cell Is Known As A Breast Cancer and Reiki

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Breast Cancer and Reiki

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, approximately 212,900 women in the US will learn that they have invasive breast cancer. American women have a 1 in 8 chance of developing this type of cancer at some point in their lives, and approximately 2 million have already been treated for the disease. Thankfully, the death rate from breast cancer has dropped dramatically. Early detection, as well as advances in chemotherapy and other treatments mean that more and more breast cancer survivors are being given each year.[i]

As with any cancer, traditional treatments for breast cancer can cause their own set of health challenges. Nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and low blood cell counts often follow chemotherapy and radiation. In a recent study published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Michael Hassett of Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that 16% of breast cancer patients under the age of 64 required a hospital visit to manage the side effects of chemotherapy.[ii] Chemotherapy targets all fast-growing cells, including white blood cells (known as neutrophils), which support the immune system. Neutropenia, which means the number of white blood cells has fallen below normal levels, lowers the immune response to invaders such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.[iii] Consequently, the most common and most serious reason for hospital visits after chemotherapy was fever from infections. Anemia—resulting from low red blood cell counts—presents additional struggles in the form of extreme fatigue.

Anti-nausea drugs, blood transfusions and lab-made white blood cell “boosters” are now part of a growing arsenal of coping strategies.[iv] But for women who feel conflicted about taking the drug in the first place, these solutions can seem too toxic or even add additional complaints. Neutrophil enhancers, for example, cause temporary bone pain as the marrow rapidly produces more cells. Leigh Leming, 54, a breast cancer survivor whose cancer later returned and metastasized, decided she wanted to try something different this time. Unable to eat due to nausea, she now follows the advice of an Ayurvedic chef. She drinks a glass of ginger, lemon juice and honey before every meal. “It’s the only thing that keeps my food down,” explains Leming. She also takes wheatgrass juice to boost blood counts, because 2 ounces of wheatgrass juice contains the equivalent nutrients of 4 pounds of organic produce: “The difference in my energy levels is amazing!”

A patient at St. Luke in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Leming noticed flyers offering Reiki sessions there. Reiki (pronounced “RAY Key”) is an ancient energy healing system rediscovered in the late nineteenth century by a Japanese monk named Dr. Mikao Usui. “Rei” stands for “universal”, and “ki” refers to “life force energy” similar to “Chi” in Chinese healing or “prana” in yoga. Thus, Reiki means “universal life force energy”, which works on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. By affecting all these levels, Reiki is believed to gently but dramatically enhance people’s innate abilities to heal themselves. One can perform Reiki with the hands on or over the body, even over great distances. Most people notice it as heat, tingling, or a feeling of deep love and support.

Friends of the Lemming at the Wellness Center St. Other patients noted dramatic improvement in pain levels after Reiki treatments. After experiencing some of this pain relief herself—“I actually forget to take my pain pills after a Reiki session”—Leming gathered a group of patients and survivors to learn how to treat themselves with Reiki. After receiving an attunement (opening of the body’s natural energy pathways) from a Reiki Master Teacher, they can now feel Reiki flowing through their hands. Although her pain returns, Leming reports a greater sense of calm and peace when dealing with the pain, as well as other cancer stressors such as finances and family relationships.

No official study in the US has proven the effectiveness of Reiki in the treatment of cancer; however, the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative recently awarded a $20,000 grant to Dr. Ahlam Mansour of the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Mansour will study “the effects of Reiki on anxiety levels, physical problems, spiritual well-being and complete blood counts in patients undergoing initial AC (chemotherapy).”[v] The June 1997 issue of Cancer Prevention Review shared preliminary results from a controlled study at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Canada. Twenty volunteers with chronic pain, including cancer pain, received Reiki treatments from a certified level 2 Reiki practitioner. Study supervisors used both a visual analog scale (VAS) and a Likert scale to measure pain before and after Reiki. The study found that receiving Reiki greatly improved pain levels.[vi]

Across the United States, hospitals and hospices are beginning to appreciate Reiki. In 1997, Nancy Samson, RN, BS, began coordinating a volunteer Reiki program in the radiation oncology department at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Today, the center hosts Reiki certification classes and advertises 50% reimbursement of the class cost to DHMC employees. [vii] California Pacific Medical Center’s Renowned Health and Healing Clinic offers Reiki, along with acupressure, nutritional therapy and yoga. [viii] Hospices are increasingly offering Reiki to patients as a tool to ease pain and reduce anxiety about the unknown.

Arizona hosts one of the longest relationships between Reiki and traditional cancer treatment. Sally Soderlund, RN (Oncology Support Services Coordinator) directs Tucson Medical Center’s (TMC) Reiki Clinic. The Reiki program at TMC began over 11 years ago in the Cancer Care Unit. It has since spread to other areas of the hospital. Reiki practitioners at TMC typically describe Reiki as “healing energy” and work together in teams of two. They emphasize the relaxing and healing qualities of Reiki, rather than the metaphysics. Although some patients report spiritual experiences during Reiki sessions, volunteers explain that Reiki is a healing system, not a religion. The success of the TMC clinic continues due to patient requests for repeat sessions, as well as nurses’ reports of improved patient mood and healing rates.[ix]

The American Cancer Society considers Reiki a “safe” complementary cancer therapy. Their website accepts subjective patient reports of Reiki’s ability to speed healing and increase their sense of well-being. Like massage, Reiki induces relaxation, lowers heart rate and reduces stress levels. Studies show that people heal better if they can stay in a low stress state. Because massage actually manipulates tissue, however, the American Cancer Society recommends avoiding areas near tumors until research shows whether tissue manipulation can spread cancer cells to other parts of the body.[x] Unlike massage, Reiki involves light touch or no touch at all: there is no tissue manipulation. Recipients remain clothed as the energy flows over and into their bodies. For people with multiple tumor sites, Reiki offers a chance to harness the healing power of relaxation without any contraindications.

[i] American Cancer Society: Cancer Reference Information. cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_2_1X_How_How_people_get_breast_cancer_5.asp?sitearea=

[ii] About Health & Fitness: breastcancer.about.com/

[iii] “How Cancer Can Put You at Risk for a Serious Infection.” Healthmonitor: July-August 2006, p. S3.

[iv] “Take care of yourself.” Healthmonitor: July-August 2006, p. S4.

[v] Source: Office of Communications, University of Saskatchewan, Canada, usask.ca/communications/ocn/Apr24/news8.html.

[vi] Source: Olson K, Hanson J, 1997. “Using Reiki to Manage Pain: A Preliminary Report.” Cancer Prevention Control 1997, June, Vol.1(2): pages 108-13.

[vii] Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center: Classes and Events. dhmc.org/dhmc/webpage.cfm?site_id=2&morg_id=0&org_id=1&sec_id=3&gsec_id=3&item_id=3

[viii] CPMC Institute for Health and Healing. cpmc.org/services/ihh/professionals/overview.html

[ix] Rand, William Lee. “Reiki in Hospitals”. Reiki News Articles: International Center for Reiki Training. reiki.org/reikinews/reiki_in_hospitals.html

[x] American Cancer Society. “Reiki” and “Massage”. cancer.org/docroot/eto/content/eto_5_3x_massage.asp?sitearea=eto

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