On May 29, 2019, Soothe and City of Hope celebrated the first anniversary of the Soothe Elizabeth Danu Cancer Initiative, which takes place at City of Hope’s Duarte main campus, where licensed therapists certified in oncology massage offer free weekly chair massage to cancer patients, families, and caregivers, as well as staff and clinicians. With cancer treatment taking a heavy emotional and physical toll on both patients and caregivers, Soothe recently announced expanding this initiative, which started in May 2018, to twice weekly. City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases, is one of 49 designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation.
“It was so wonderful to hear very positive feedback from participants in the Soothe Elizabeth Danu Cancer Initiative at this special event, and we are very glad to hear that this program is making a positive impact on the lives of cancer patients, families, hospital staff and even our Soothe therapists,” says Jeff Bishop, VP of Operations at Soothe. “Bringing the power of healing via massage therapy has been emotionally and physically rewarding for all parties.”
Soothe’s therapists massage people in different areas of the hospital for 8 hours, with each therapist performing 4 chair massages per hour (or 32 people daily). Adds Bishop, “The initiative was named after former Soothe recruiter Elizabeth Danu, a breast cancer survivor who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2019.”
“Given the dire situations of many City of Hope patients, who are in various stages of cancer treatment or recovery, receiving the gift of touch is a ray of light for many,” says Soothe massage therapist Christine Venegas, who has been involved with this initiative since its inception. “We see many people who are suffering from anxiety, worry, and exhaustion due to lack of sleep, and pain, and massage brings them some degree of relief, ease, and a feeling of being cared for and loved, especially when they are feeling very down.” Venegas’s personal interest in helping cancer patients was ignited after her uncle reached out to her for massage therapy when he was at a very low point during his own cancer treatment. It meant a lot for her to help him since he seldom revealed feelings of pain or sadness to his family, even after being diagnosed.
David Trejo, Operations Manager at the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope, says, “Being able to offer patients, families, and caregivers these weekly massages has been an incredible gift. Many have shared with me how much they look forward to the massages. One patient described how she feels afterward: ‘After my massage, I feel so relaxed and reconnected to my body. I am so grateful that Soothe is providing this amazing service to us.’ One of our caregivers expressed his appreciation after his massage: ‘Getting my weekly massage is one of the things I look forward to the most. It really helps me cope with our situation, calms me down, and gets me to a place of relaxation.’ The services your team provides go a long way in helping to improve our patients’ quality of life. Please accept my sincere gratitude.”
Soothe massage therapist Denise Gonzales, who has been involved with this initiative for one year, says, “Many times I see cancer patients who are dizzy, lightheaded, worried, fearful, or exhausted from their treatment, and our massage helps them relax and feel some tangible relief. The initiative has taken off because patients and caregivers really trust us, and we are always welcomed by the hospital staff, who exhibit tight necks and shoulders.” According to her, oncology massage is relatively new and involves a lighter form of massage therapy, where there is no deep pressure or stretching techniques.
The clinicians at City of Hope also have high praise regarding the benefits of massage for hospital staff who dedicate long hours to providing high-quality care for cancer patients. Dr. Clarke Anderson, who leads City of Hope’s “Well-Being Committee” for medical staff members and allied health professionals, says, “Self-care and personal resilience is critical to reduce stress and prevent burnout. Often the hospital staff—employees—neglect this critically important part of well-being. The impact of 15 minutes of massage will refresh and rejuvenate the mind and body and allow the hospital staff to continue their service to the patients and families of City of Hope. Give yourself permission—you deserve it.”
Soothe is an on-demand massage service, providing a licensed, insured massage therapist to one’s home, office, or hotel within 60 minutes, in over 65 cities worldwide. It also offers in-office massage and assisted stretching via Soothe At Work, its corporate massage division. For additional information about Soothe, visit www.soothe.com.