OMA massage therapists, Lisa Johnston and Gail Bailey joined with the Asante Team for the 2019 Relay for Life in Medford, Oregon on August 24th. They gave complimentary chair massages to 24 cancer survivors ad supporters during three hours at the event.
Participants were so appreciative of the complimentary service and grateful for what OMA is doing with Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. The Asante Foundation supports the program 100% through a grant with Oregon State University and the Foundation.
I have had the privilege of volunteering with Casting for Recovery (CfR) for the past five years. CfR is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1996 in Vermont by two women, one a breast reconstruction surgeon and the other a professional fly fisher. Their mission was to enhance the quality of life for women with breast cancer through a unique program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Two-and-a-half-day weekend retreats are open to breast cancer survivors of all ages, from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, in all stages of treatment and recovery and are FREE to participants.
The retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience connections with other women and nature. On a physical level, the gentle, rhythmic motion of fly casting is similar to exercises often prescribed after surgery or radiation to promote soft tissue stretching. And on an emotional level, women are able to experience a new activity in a safe environment amongst a support group of peers and a reprieve from every day stresses and challenges of their cancer.
In September of 2017 I was asked to speak about CfR at the 3rd Annual Central Texas Veterans Conference on Moral Injury. After my presentation and discussion about the inaugural military retreat conducted in West Virginia for military women across the nation, both veterans and active duty, I had an opportunity to speak with a member of the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC). He was impressed by the service that CfR provides and suggested we apply for a grant to help fund a Texas retreat for military women. In 2018 CfR-Texas was awarded a $30,000 grant by the TVC Fund for Veterans’ Assistance.
In April 2019, CfR-Texas held its first retreat for 14 military women in all stages of treatment or recovery from breast cancer at Camp Capers in Waring, Texas. This retreat was inclusive of all 5 service branches (including National Guard and Reservists), race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. Medical and psychosocial sessions provided support for women dealing with issues related to their military and cancer experience. Oncology chair massage was provided along with education about the difference in receiving massage before and after a cancer diagnosis and treatment. (CfR-Central Texas is the only location that offers oncology massage at their retreat.)
There was an incredible camaraderie and support amongst these strong, patriotic American women. Their experiences of both a military career and breast cancer are a powerful bond. They shared their worries, hopes, and dreams and developed friendships that will no doubt last a lifetime. By the end of the weekend there was no doubt in the staff or participants minds that there is a need for more support groups and events for this special group of women.
And there was NO doubt in my mind that oncology massage therapists must continue to provide education to our clients concerning the risk factors associated with massage and cancer. Eight of ten retreat participants who received a chair massage were unfamiliar with risks for lymphedema, contraindications, and types of massage that are appropriate given their breast cancer and treatment regimen.
Mary Liebermann is a member of Oncology Massage Alliance, retired Air Force RN, 14-year breast and 24-year melanoma cancer survivor, and member of the New Braunfels Search and Rescue team who loves to spend time RVing and fly fishing.
OMA therapist Mary Liebermann once again volunteered with Casting for Recovery (CfR) for the April 20-22, 2018 retreat held at Camp Capers, Waring, TX. CfR provides free 2 ½ day retreats that offer breast cancer education and peer support for women diagnosed with breast cancer through the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Participants received either a chair massage or hand and foot massage.
See https://castingforrecovery.org for more information about Casting for Recovery and future retreats for women with breast cancer.
OMA is once again teaming up with RE: Cancer to help benefit their cause. OMA therapists gave free chair massages to the participants who are cycling to raise money for RE: Cancer, a nonprofit that provides support services to those impacted by cancer, as well as their family, friends and caregivers.
OMA offered chair massages to cycling participants on Saturday from 10:00am to 2:30pm at the Dell Jewish Community Center
Pete and Destiny give chair massage to participants.
Ashley Hiatt and Clare Landy along with Yvonne Larue (taking the pic) spread the word about OMA.
OMA’s Pete Deckinga presented “Easing Chronic Pain with Massage” to the Neuropathy Alliance Texas October 9th, 2017. Thank you, Pete for spreading the word about how massage can help reduce pain and helping to support OMA and Neuropathy Alliance.
In a recent article in the Mail Tribune by Tammy Asnicar, OMA Executive Director Gail Bailey was interviewed for the article highlighting local support for breast cancer survivors. OMA recently partnered with Trish Boersma, founder and director of the nonprofit Riding Beyond. Trish’s program helps women heal after treatment where horses provide an “energetic connection” that promotes well-being. Trish spread the word to the Mail Tribune regarding OMA’s services and thank her for that!
OMA massage therapists participated again this year in the Komen Race for the Cure event on Sunday, September 24th from at 6:00 am until 9:30 am. Our Therapists provided complimentary chair massages for survivors during the Race in the Survivor Tent. This year’s race started at south Congress (see below), by the Austin American Statesman offices, just south of the river.
All of our OMA massage therapists are additionally trained in oncology massage. We had so much fun and helped to raise money for breast cancer research!
OMA was invited to participate in the May 25th Cancer Community Town Hall event, which was hosted by LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes. Diane Christopherson and Geri Ruane represented OMA at this productive meeting, held at the new Dell Medical School, where OMA was able to network with other Austin cancer support organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, Wonders and Worries, Hospice Austin and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
OMA participated for the 5th year in the 2017 Wellness Fair: Live Well, was held Thursday, June 15, 2017. The fair included educational information about wellness, health and physical fitness. By attending, OMA had the chance to set-up a booth and share information about our organization with more than 800-1000 employees who typically attend this annual event.
OMA Massage Theapist, Martha Iglehart, Board Chair, Diane Christopherson and Advisory Board member, Arann Shepherd attended the Fair.