Reiki and Cancer

Ann Ameling, a professor of Psychiatric Nursing at Yale University turned to Reiki when she was diagnosed with cancer. “There is nothing like a cancer diagnosis to make you feel out of control. Reiki helped me gain personal power,” Ameling told writer Therese Droste. Ameling practices reiki on herself — sometimes even just for five minutes. She finds Reiki helps her slow down and think healthy, positive thoughts.

Although there have been no “large population” studies on the healing effects of Reiki on cancer patients, many hospitals in the United States are now incorporating Reiki in their cancer care protocols. Among these are Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (Lebanon, NH), Integrative Medicine Outpatient Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY), and Integrative Therapies Program for Children with Cancer at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (New York, NY). Together with conventional medicine, Reiki is offered in these hospitals, where patients and medical practitioners agree that Reiki helps alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer. Patients report that Reiki eases the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, improves immune function, eases anxiety and promotes a positive emotional attitude, decreases pain and helps the patient relax.

In November 2008 featured a story about a college professor who suffered excruciating pain from her chemotherapy treatments. The short documentary featured a Reiki treatment from a practitioner at the Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey where Reiki is offered to cancer patients for free.

At the National Health Institutes’ pain clinic, Ann Berger, a medical oncologist specializing in pain treatment said, “We use probably 50–80 percent of nonpharmacologic methods in our NIH pain clinic, meaning non-medication. The things we use include massage, relaxation, hypnosis, and Reiki therapy, which is also very helpful in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

The Arizona Cancer Center provides comprehensive and integrated support for patients and their families and among the complementary treatments offered is Reiki.

Reiki and the American Cancer Society

In its overview of Reiki, the American Cancer Society states that, “There are anecdotal reports that Reiki increases relaxation and sense of well-being. There is early scientific evidence that Reiki may be useful for reducing pain in some patients with advanced cancer. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Reiki can treat cancer.”

Reiki is a non-invasive laying-of-hands alternative healing modality which restores the body’s subtle energies. The word “Reiki” is a combination of two Japanese words: “rei” which means “spiritually guided,” and “ki” which means “energy.”

Mikao Usui first introduced this healing modality after a lengthy spiritual fast in Mt. Kurama in Japan. This natural method of healing was adapted to appeal to Western minds by Dr. Chujiro Hayashi. A Japanese-American woman named Hayawo Takata learned the westernized version of Reiki from Dr. Hayashi and taught Reiki in Hawaii, where she lived.

Reiki for an Easy Transition

Reiki is now being used as complementary medicine for various ailments. In the case of cancer, Reiki helps not only in pain management and in boosting the body’s immune system. It also allows for an easier transition to those who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Sister Madeleine Ricaforte of the Sisters of St. Agnes is the co-director of the non-sectarion CORE/El Centro, a facility that offers alternative medicine and natural healing modalities to those belonging to the low income group. She is a Reiki master and teacher and offers Reiki at the center. Reiki proved to be a big help to Sister Madeleine when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Says Sister Madeleine: “I did a lot of Reiki with my mom when she had cancer, and she was very, very sick with chemo and radiation and one of the greatest things for her was that it alleviated a lot of the side effects and the symptoms of radiation and chemo, and then ultimately in her final stages it kind of allowed her to peacefully go.”

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