As an oncology massage therapist, who works within an oncology center, I believe it is vital to my health to keep my sense of humor intact. In order to balance how I am accepted in the traditional western medical world and the alternative world of healers, laughter helps. I strive to fit in with well documented evidence-based research on the benefits of massage during treatment for cancer. Then grin and bear it when I hear some off color joke that blends massage with the oldest profession, or an explanation of why massage therapists are finger-printed in California.
On the other hand when I go to network with other integrative healthcare professionals I find that I don’t fit into that world either. I don’t feel comfortable bringing back to my patients or co-workers thoughts, idea and beliefs that make me realize that theories are being told as truths. I am a fish out of water in that world too. So, I laugh to myself, find a balance on what breathing technique will help my patients, which movement therapy will ease discomfort and what massage technique will blend in with the treatment of cancer.
There are times that it is hard to figure out which way is up. Or blend into a group and act like there is a place for me, whichever world I find myself in. Fitting in has always been an on-going process for me.
I loved agility training my australian shepherd, but balked at the craziness of competitions. I loved my time in pottery school, but on more than one occassion it was hard to fit in with situations that made me blush. Or even in massage school, being told that I was not sophisticated enough to understand the need for certain types of body treatments. With oncology work, I have set my sight on being there for the patients and laugh, or try to laugh off the ups and downs, blend in and find my space. Finally found what is worth fight for.
Sometimes it is important to take a stand and put yourself out there to prove you can generate attention to help your patients feel the best that that they can be. .
My patients have taught me that if they can survive the side effects of their treatment, I can demonstrate a dance in front of 200 survivors or explain my role to a doubting physican. On the other hand, I can also explain with sensitivity why alternative healers have to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk with the medical community if they want to be able to help patients during treatment.
Maybe you find your own special spirits on a lonely highway and realize that you were meant to be at this junction at this moment to plead your case for enlightenment of the healthcare community. Promise your first born son, which is easier to do when he is being his non-communicative self. Or possibly offer up a good deed, or gift of your favorite artwork to charity. Maybe twirl around 3x and feel your inner child searching for the light in hope of continuing your life’s passion.
Because in the end with lots of faith, patience, tenacity, thick skin, hard work and perserverance a great gift comes your way that helps you tell your story and makes you realize the fight was worth it. And laughing along the way always helps.