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Wellness Centers Treat More Than Cancer

Sunday, October 24, 2010

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

I didn’t think there could be anything more terrifying than hearing the words, “You have cancer,” but I was wrong. Two weeks ago I was the target of a sinister, high speed chase down a dark, deserted, dead end country road. For almost 10 miles of twisty road, I kept thinking, “This isn’t how I want to die.” I like to think of myself as a tough woman, able to handle most anything. Since then, however, reliving this terrifying night has consumed most every minute of my waking and sleeping life.

I’ve replayed every foot of this nightmare, unable to concentrate on anything else. I’ve gone through every phase of fear, terror and anger a person can experience. After 10 days of drowning in terror, I realized I needed professional help to reclaim my life and so I turned to Inspiritas. <PREVIEWEND>

Inspiritas is a wellness spa located on the ground floor of the START cancer center in San Antonio. In the midst of “pill hill,” Inspiritas is a refuge and a slice of calm that’s not just for cancer patients and their caregivers. Doctors and medical professionals, as well as people without cancer, come for facials, manipulative therapies such as pressure point massage and reflexology, as well as nutrition counseling, Reiki, mind/body interventions and acupuncture: treatment modalities that have been shown to reduce side effects of conventional cancer treatment and provide a host of benefits to patients.

The brainchild of START oncologist, Dr. Amy Lang, the aesthetics of Inspiritas rivals some of the most luxurious spas in the country. From the moment I entered this beautiful wellness spa, I was surrounded by water that cascaded down clear glass walls; other walls were curved and painted an ethereal blue or lined with iridescent glass tiles. Pots of blooming orchids and soothing lighting led to a beautiful private bath with a luxurious robe and thick towels. There are rooms for different types of massage, yoga and Guided Imagery. Another elegant room, that looks like it was torn from the pages of an interior design magazine, invites you to relax with a book from the Inspiritas library, drink soothing tea, eat fresh fruit and breathe in a general sense of well-being. It is not just a haven from cancer and other serious illnesses, but a place for everyone interested in integrative health practices to relax, be pampered and recharge batteries drained by the stress of everyday life.

Many of you know
I’ve practiced self-hypnosis for over 20 years and am skilled at getting my conscious mind to relax and allow my unconscious mind to accept helpful input, but fleeing from that terrifying night called for more help than I could muster on my own. Inspiritas’s Ginger Kemmy, an oncology nurse certified in energy therapy and Guided Imagery, listened as I recounted what happened, then suggested we do a session to help me process my experience and stop me from fixating on it.

I kicked off my shoes, reclined on the sofa and closed my eyes. With her experienced guidance, I used the same techniques I’ve used over and over to cope with everything from the death of my late husband, to coping with the scary uncertainties of breast cancer. Ginger’s voice was warm and nurturing, but her words were empowering. She helped me create a mental icon, a shield to stop my recurring thoughts and reassure myself that I was safe, plus she gave me powerful emotional tools I can use in other situations. From the moment I left her safe cocoon, I was in a different frame of mind and had moved on toward a healing path. My session with Ginger was a reminder of how much hypnosis and Guided Imagery have helped me through every phase of breast cancer.

Afterwards, Kim Gilyard, a nurse and skilled massage therapist and esthetician, gave me a pressure point massage. I will be seeing lots of Kim. She is a miracle worker, especially for people like me who are position sensitive. I'd rather not lay on my stomach and take the chance my implant will pop out from under my pectoral muscle, again, so I must lay on my back during a massage. Words cannot express the positive difference these highly trained women helped me achieve in one afternoon. Whether you’re a cancer patient, caregiver, survivor, Superwoman or James Bond, do yourself a favor and make an appointment for one of the many services of Inspiritas, or of a wellness spa in your area.

Kudos to Dr. Lang
and the other oncologists and hospitals that are thinking outside the traditional cancer treatment box and finding ways to bring substantive alternative therapies to their communities. Wellness spas like Inspiritas are more than the services they offer. They are tangible gifts of support, encouragement, inspiration and hope. Cancer wellness is routed in more than surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Wellness also encompasses diet and exercise, along with inner strength and the powerful healing mechanisms of the mind/body connection. To that, add faith. Hebrews 11:1. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the healing power of God.

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Previous Comments
Anonymous commented on 25-Oct-2010 12:22 AM
Brenda, I am trying to put myself in your place and I cannot even begin to imagine the fear. Absolutely terrifying! I am so sorry that you have had to endure that horrific experience and, in spite of this, you have recognised your need for help.
So pleased you found that 'perfect' place and the opportunity to heal. Inspiritas really does sound inspiring.
Bless you Brends. Let your healing continue for as long as necessary. May you be surrounded by love, light and strength.
Anonymous commented on 25-Oct-2010 01:46 PM
Your car chase experience sounds truly terrifying. Luckily you recognized your need for professional help in getting past it sooner rather than later. Inspiritas sounds wonderful. Hopefully places like this will become more common place. I wish there was more emphasis on taking care of the "whole" person during cancer treatment. That would be a real gift to help healing on all levels. Glad you are feeling better.
Anonymous commented on 25-Oct-2010 06:52 PM
Brenda, I have never heard of a Spa like the one you described. It makes perfect sense to me to have this integrated approach to wellness. How long are you staying? For some reason I did not think you lived in TX. Just when we think we can't take one more thing, we do and we survive. I am so proud of you Brenda and thanks so much for sharing this story. I can only imagine how hard and painful it is but sure as you write the story, someone else is going to have something simular that happened to them and you will have helped them. Thank you sister! Luann
Anonymous commented on 26-Oct-2010 12:16 AM
Cheryl, Nancy & Luann,
Thank you for taking time to write me. While we are great at supporting one another, I think we've all discovered that sometimes we need help outside our circle. I wish I could tell you details about this night, but for legal reasons, I cannot.

FYI, you don't spend the night at Inspiritas. You make an appointment and go just as you would for a massage or to see your doctor. I urge all of you dear sisters to consider hypnosis, Guided Imagery, Reiki, yoga, etc. as a way of coping with illness and other traumas. These treatment modalities have been shown to make a huge difference in the way we heal.
Anonymous commented on 26-Oct-2010 01:11 PM
Wow, Brenda, what a horrific experience! It is wonderful that you know how to take care of yourself. My husband and I were treated to two hours worth of spa treatments this weekend, and it was amazing how different my body felt afterwards. It is so important for everyone, especially cancer survivors, to look beyond conventional healing. My matra to everyone is "Take Care of Yourself." Thanks for setting the example.
Anonymous commented on 26-Oct-2010 09:36 PM
Hi Brenda, LOVE the new layout-especially the lymphedema link!! EXCELLENT!!

Thanks :-) Suzzann Cummings
Anonymous commented on 31-Oct-2010 11:56 AM
My sister used guided imagery to help her through breast cancer. It worked so well for her i decided to see if it would help me cope with multiple sclerosis and a husband who is not aware of my limitations. We''re in counseling but I need more support. My sister gave me your blog and you inspire me to take better care of myself. Thank you.
Anonymous commented on 01-Nov-2010 11:25 PM
Hi Bren!
Great article!
You promsied me a book (autographed, of course) since I was a contributor. Don’t forget! Good work, sister!

I have sent MANY people over to your site.

Good Bible quote – woo hoooo!!!!
Love you,


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