Out of all of the wonderful things I had a chance to experience during the ISPA East Coast Media Event, and from all the coverage and content I gathered, my interview with Lynelle Lynch, President of Bellus Academy, is the one I want to be heard and shared the most within the spa community. It’s important. You can help make a difference in the industry, so listen up!
During my one-on-one, I learned something that I didn’t even know was happening, or not happening for that matter, in the world of spa. Something that as a fairly healthy person with normal day-to-day life stressors, I couldn’t imagine not being able to experience now, let alone if I was dealing with a life altering disease like cancer. I take for granted how easily I can book a spa appointment, enjoy a relaxing massage or body treatment and de-stress from all of life’s worries, even if only for a few hours. Lynelle Lynch, however, painted a picture of a very different scenario:
“Once if you were pregnant and you went to go get a massage there was nothing. and now pregnancy massages are everywhere. So if you are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation you are not allowed to go to a spa right now, they would turn you away, and how traumatic and emotional.”
Wow. Just think… how heartbreaking it must be, as a cancer patient or survivor you attempt to take back some of the control cancer has spread into your life, only to realize it has raised its ugly head in a place you want to retreat to for sanctuary. So instead of feeling empowered, you have to walk away and leave feeling as if you no longer have any control at all. I agree Mrs. Lynch, very traumatic and emotional indeed!
I was happy to hear, however, there are now options and an educational solution to help spas and spa professionals avoid creating such a devastating experience for the clientele that may need them the most.
Bellus Academy in partnership with Wellness for Cancer, a 501c3 organization, and with support from the Global Wellness Institute, and leading cancer doctors, worked together to develop a custom training program that helps debunk the myths surrounding claims of massage spreading cancer or being contraindicated for cancer patients. Instead, the training provides education on what is safe, proper protocols that should be followed, and helps identify treatments that can be offered at spas to allow cancer patients and survivors to experience the nurturing and de-stressing benefits massage and touch can provide during such a difficult time in an individual’s life.
The Global Wellness Institute’s website discusses the Wellness for Cancer Initiative and identifies the disconnect in the spa industry:
“First, spas must have the proper perspective about supporting clients with cancer, which means understanding that our role is well-being not disease care. Second, we need to take responsibility for our role in holding space for our clients to reduce their stress, find inner peace and increase their emotional resiliency. Individuals don’t want to go to cancer specific spas; they want to get away from their cancer – they want to visit your spa.” (http://www.globalwellnessinstitute.org/wellness-for-cancer-initiative)
According to the official press release, “Bellus Academy Becomes First U.S. Academy to Offer Wellness for Cancer Massage Therapy Training”. During my interview Lynch indicates, “starting in September we have it built into our curriculum at Bellus Academy, we have a full spa at 20,000 square feet in San Diego, so we’re hoping that we’ll be a catalyst for all other spas in Southern California. Offering the training not just to our students coming in but also to professionals within the San Diego county community”.
The 10 week, 50-hour Wellness for Cancer curriculum is designed to be flexible and can be completed entirely online or at the academy. The hands-on training is held in class with a Wellness for Cancer certified educator. Lynch says the in-class program gives students “a much more in-depth ability to have conversations, and to question things if they are not really understanding it well”. All students will have to complete case study modules where they identify and find patients, offer complimentary services, and help them to relax and de-stress.
Wellness for Cancer has created a little tree logo (pictured above) that will be utilized as the universal symbol for spas employing certified professionals and who have chosen to “debunk the myths” by providing safe treatment options to individuals living with or surviving cancer. Lynch hopes that the symbol will become widely recognized, “like when you go to restaurants and you see the little gluten free symbol”, and that certified partnerships can be further developed on the Wellness for Cancer website, where guests will have the ability to perform a search and find places they can go for spa services, or identify products they can utilize during their cancer journey. Lynch states:
“So in the future, 5 years from now, we’re hoping that this message gets out there and that more spas send their therapists to this level of training, and that more product companies put this into their menu of services so that they actually are identifying which products can complement the different services, and we’re all working as a unified profession. “
The final takeaway from Lynch: “It’s so important we reach the entire spa community and get them trained as soon as possible. Join this movement because it’s very important”. Important indeed! I whole-heartedly believe in the healing power of touch, and though a trip to the spa may not be a cure from a literal sense, we all know there is so much more that can be healed beyond the physical. Will you join the movement and debunk the myth?
To learn more about Wellness for Cancer, or for inquiries on how you can become a certified Wellness for Cancer spa or therapist, please contact Bellus Academy President Lynelle Lynch at Llynch@bellusacademy.edu or Spa Director Joanne Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org. View the official Bellus Academy Wellness for Cancer press release here: http://www.bellusacademy.edu/wellness-for-cancer
Story by: India K. Robinson, “Confessions of a Spa Bunny” coverage from ISPA East Coast Media Event July 27, 2016