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Healing Touch:  An Asset to an Integrative Program for Breast Cancer

My interest in breast cancer and the effects of Healing Touch on the side effects of surgery and chemotherapy became personal when a mammogram indicated suspicious changes in my breast and I had a lumpectomy (three nodes) for biopsy. I had never had any surgeries and became acutely aware of the fear of the unknown and the possibility of pain and surgery side effects. Like many, I didn’t have to face these possibilities alone; I was blessed with a supportive husband and a very good friend who also had Healing Touch training. After I discussed Healing Touch with my surgeon, my friend was allowed to give me Healing Touch until I was taken into the operating room and immediately afterwards in the recovery room. As a result I had no bleeding, no bruising and no pain. My incision was basically healed in less than two weeks. I was lucky and the nodes were benign. I had another scare with a mammary gland at the nipple in the other breast about a year later. Again I experienced the same results using Healing Touch.

Coincidentally, the week after I received a request to write this article, a good friend was scheduled to have breast surgery after being on chemotherapy for several months. I gave her Healing Touch two days before and immediately after surgery in her hospital room. Like me, she did fantastically! This woman had little to no pain following surgery. One week following surgery, she was still pain-free and recovering at an unexpected rate. Healing Touch was part of her strategy for healing, which included allopathic (a great oncology team, a good surgeon, and the advanced technology of the harmonic scalpel and fibrin glue) and homeopathic care as well as prayer, nutrition, visualization, journaling and family and friend support.

These experiences led me to become more aware of breast cancer and created a desire to know more and also to help others. I have given Healing Touch to people with cancer and have volunteered at the Blue Bird Camp for Cancer Survivors (sponsored by St. Mary’s Medical Center and Bell South Pioneers) and other organizations.

What is Healing Touch? Scientifically, it is a biofield therapy, an energy-based approach to health and healing. Healing Touch uses non-invasive hand movements on or near the body to influence the human energy system (biomagnetic field of the body and its energy centers). These techniques clear, energize, and balance the human energy field affecting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and healing.

The work is based on a heart-centered caring relationship in which the practitioner and client come together energetically to facilitate the client's health and healing. The goal of Healing Touch is to restore harmony and balance to the energy system, which places the client in a position to self heal. Healing Touch complements conventional health care and is used in collaboration with other approaches to health and healing. (Adapted from

Healing Touch was developed by Janet Mentgen RN, BSN who has been practicing energy based care since 1980 in Denver, CO. The Healing Touch program is a certified educational offering endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses’ Association. The Healing Touch certificate program is now taught throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and South America and has been attended by over 70,000 persons.

Research results indicate that Healing Touch and other biofield therapies are useful therapies. Patient satisfaction surveys of cancer patients have shown that biofield therapy treatments reduce anxiety, increase relaxation and sense of control, improve energy and sense of well-being, and decrease pain and side effects of cancer treatments. (Brannon, 1997; Sample, 1999)

In a study on the effects of Healing Touch (HT) on radiation-induced fatigue (Guerrerio, Slater and Cook, 2001), the HT group showed proportionately larger reductions in fatigue than the control group (i.e., they had more energy). The Healing Touch groups also had more pronounced improvements in their levels of depression, anxiety and anger. In Moreland’s 1998 phenomenological study, women with breast cancer who received HT during the administration of intravenous therapy had decreased physical and emotional discomfort. Kopecki in her Master’s Thesis on The Experience of HT in Women with Breast Cancer, 2001, found that “through the primary experiences of human touch, caring and concern, and unity with others, a new state of enhanced physical, emotional and spiritual well-being was created.”

My own experience with women who have cancer is that when they receive Healing Touch before and after chemotherapy dosages, they have a decrease in side effects of chemotherapy. All of the clients I have worked with have stated that they had less anxiety and a better sense of well being. Some have reported a decrease of nausea and pain. Other Healing Touch practitioners in the area have reported the same results. Currently members of the local Healing Touch group are donating sessions at the Wellness Community (865-546-4661). One goal is to teach clients and/or their care givers ways to help the client continue with self-healing.

Since 1996 approximately 300 people have attended Healing Touch workshops in the Knoxville area. In the greater Knoxville area, there are currently 3 Certified Healing Touch Practitioners and approximately 18 Practitioners seeking certification (having completed at least Level IV of training). This fall we are offering a Level I Workshop September 27-28 in Oak Ridge and Levels I, II, III Workshops November 7-9 in Knoxville. The workshops are open to anyone interested in healing. Continuing education credit (CEUs) are available for nurses and massage therapists. For more information about these classes, persons using Healing Touch in their practices or general information contact Margaret Leslie at 865-607-0173, Sharon Koeth at 865-670-3729 or write The website contains excellent information including a bibliography for those interested in reading more.

Note: I wish to thank Elizabeth K. Hansen, MSSW, Sharon A. Koeth, BA Ed, AMI, Victoria Slater, PhD, RN, HNC, CHTP/I for their help and input.

Published in the Bountiful Health magazine, October, 2003.

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