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Couples massage helps patients on cancer journey

“Here at Cancer Wellness, we teach a variety of things,” says Cindy Stark Reid, a licensed massage therapist at Piedmont Cancer Wellness. “One of the things that I like to do is work with couples.” Stark Reid facilitates the Couples Enrichment and Support Group, which helps patients and their partners deepen their bond and meet other couples on the cancer journey.

“An extension of that is helping couples learn how they can use massage therapy to make a difference in their lives,” she says. “Having the ability to have somebody who loves you and cares about you come and give you the benefit of positive, loving touch, and counter some of the negative things you’re feeling in your body can make all the difference in the world and help you feel more balanced.”

“For me, cancer treatment is not a natural process,” says Lyn Ucci, a patient at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “It’s one that can save your life, but there is nothing natural or pretty about it. Your touch during that time involves needles, tubes, poking, prodding and blood tests. And it’s constant.”

While touch is a natural form of expression, it eventually had negative connotations for Ucci because she associated it with pain. “I wanted to reconnect in a way where touch is what it is supposed to be – it’s a bonding thing, it’s a way for people to connect,” she says. “It’s as sacred as the bond between mother and child.” Ucci and her partner, Dick Hall, “were always big touchers,” and Cancer Wellness has helped increase that even more.

If the couple has a bad day, they often will use the massage techniques they learned at Cancer Wellness to decrease neck, shoulder, foot or hand tension. “It can’t help but bring you closer together as a couple because it is a precious thing to be able to do,” she says.

Hall says Cancer Wellness opened doors for them to try new things, such as cooking classes, yoga and of course, couples massage. “It’s a way to address cancer in a positive way, turning it into a healthful experience instead of something that is dreadful,” he says. Ucci agrees.

“I think couples massage, massage and the other services here give cancer a run for its money,” she says. “It turns it from dreadful to bearable and even gives you that inner strength of saying to cancer, ‘I’m going to look you in the eye. You are not going to win.’ That’s the beauty of this place.”

Visit Health & Wellness for information on the benefits of massage, self-massage and relaxation.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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