Reiki in the Oncology Ward

Randy and Suz LetchinArticles, English 2 Comments

group holding hands


After our initial Reiki training, my wife and I teamed with several other practitioners to spread the Reiki word and increase our Reiki practice. Through a connection of one of our members, we were asked by the Oncology Supportive Care Coordinator (SCC) to speak to a cancer support group in our local hospital. We expected a middle-aged and older audience, skeptical of any “new-age” treatment, yet willing to “step outside the box”; of course we accepted. After our introductions and brief description of Reiki, we offered treatments to all in the room. We did not expect the response – all but one (early departure) wanted to try it. With two tables at the ready and four practitioners, we treated the roughly 16 attendees with 12-15 minute sessions, finishing a little beyond our 2-hour scheduled event. All responses were positive. Some who were experiencing difficulty sleeping were falling asleep during their sessions. Others became emotional during or immediately after treatments while relaying their thoughts. At the least, all felt more relaxed during and after their Reiki introduction. Wow! Were we energized! This initial meeting was followed by requests to present at other cancer support group meetings for the next year.

Due to cancer patient interest in furthering their Reiki experience, our group agreed to offer Reiki in the hospital on a voluntary basis if a room was available. Soon enough, the Oncology SCC, was scheduling appointments for treatments at the hospital. We had to jump all the hurdles to become an official hospital volunteer, tiny obstacles relative to what was gained. For the next 2 years my wife and I dedicated our Wednesday nights to Reiki at Upper Chesapeake Health Center. During this time frame, a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation was awarded to the Cancer LifeNet at the hospital to provide complimentary services to breast cancer patients. Other modalities were added to the complimentary menu to include acupuncture, healing touch, yoga and others. Though paid for our time with breast cancer patients, we continued on a voluntary basis for all other cancer patients. The grant has since expired, but our Reiki schedule is still full. My wife and I still volunteer on Wednesday , and another in our group takes Tuesday afternoons. Together we average 8-10 cancer patients a week.

This hospital experience has been exhilarating. I remember early in my training when my teacher spoke of treating a cancer patient. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would feel doing the same. Now, I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I’ve witnessed how hard the oncology nurse navigators work, assisting patients from diagnosis, to treatment, and hopefully post treatment. I’m grateful for how supportive they are of our services even though they don’t fully understand what we do. I admire the fortitude of the cancer patients, knowing life will go on without them, and they don’t want to miss the train. They take their treatments in stride, persevering. Though some are obviously struggling at times, all are so thankful for what we do for them. Some of those we see often are beginning to understand this Reiki “thing” is a way of life, and maybe now is a good time for a fresh outlook. Though the treatments are helpful, they are also a conduit for additional benefits. These treatments allow for exposure to new words, new thoughts, new feelings, some introduced by the practitioner, some recalled due to the Reiki experience. I am affecting their lives in a positive way. I feel so relaxed, so balanced, so peaceful on the ride home from the hospital. Somewhere I heard “Giving is the key to happiness.” I like this giving “thing”.


December 2008 an Oncology Nurse Navigator from our local hospital contacted us about giving a talk about Reiki to a cancer support group. My husband and I, along with two other Reiki Practitioners went to the meeting with no expectations. There were 14 cancer patients in attendance who were “wanting other options” to their cancer treatment. After a short talk on what is Reiki we offered 15 min. Reiki treatments to the crowd, everyone in the room with the exception of one person who needed to leave early received a treatment. At this meeting we encouraged the patients if they wanted more options for their cancer treatment their voices must be heard, it couldn’t come from our end! They started asking…….

That meeting lead to monthly talks and Reiki treatments for different cancer support groups at the hospital for the next year. The spring of 2009 the hospital was awarded a grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation which Reiki was part of the “wellness menu”. Reiki treatments were the highest sought after modality over acupuncture, healing touch and massage. During the grant participation we continued to donate Reiki treatments to all other cancer patients and their families, anyone who felt the need for Reiki. We felt a strong need to give to all cancer patients just not the breast cancer patients.

The above grant ended after 1 year but Reiki continues in the hospital for the cancer patients. We are given such wonderful support from the Oncology Nurse Navigators, they are the Reiki spokeswomen! They meet with newly diagnosed c\cancer patients at which time Reiki is introduced to the patient, our contact information is given out and the Nurses provide us with names and numbers for the patients. The nurses have received Reiki treatments giving them first hand information to relay to the patients what they might expect during a treatment.

There is a room set up in the Cancer Life New Wing of the hospital where the patients come for treatments. We have access to the infusion room where we offer Reiki treatments to patients receiving chemotherapy. Treatments last 30 minutes and time is allowed for the patient to talk, if they wish both before and after the treatment. Mostly the main comment you will hear after a Reiki is “I feel more like my old self” anxiety has lessened and they feel more balanced. Other comments have been “I have less road rage”, “I am able to handle my children without loosing my temper”, “My sleep is better”, “I don’t feel as horrible after chemo”. We treat a husband and wife team. The wife is a two time breast cancer patient, this time it is back in her bones. The quality of life is limited for her due to her treatments, she finds such “peace and comfort” from Reiki. Her husband comes each week with her for a treatment, he is finding his back issues and arthritis pain is lessening. It’s wonderful to see them both leave holding hands and laughing.

There is no way of explaining what we receive from this Reiki experience with patients. Being in the company of these people is a blessing for us. The awareness of how life can change at any moment is right in front of you each week. There is wonderful peace that comes from our time at the hospital. The patients are great teachers of how strong the human body is. The treatments, surgeries, doctor appointments these people have are added to their “normal life”. Very seldom do you encounter a patient that has a pity party for them, it is just the opposite. At the close of each Reiki session as the patient sits up on the table to talk about the experience, the first words are usually, Thank You. We would like to say to all the cancer patients, Thank you for being our teachers….

Randal and his wife, Suz, are Shinpiden Reiki Level III graduates of the International House of Reiki

Comments 2

  1. Avatar of Travis Mills

    This is a fantastic article to read. One of my Reiki Master Students has been receiving Reiki as part of ‘Alternative Therapies’ offerings here in Perth, Western Australia after his radiation treatments for cancer – I am happy to say Reiki is one of them. This is happening at the Oncology department at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia. Thank you so much for sharing this to make other people aware of the wonderful Reiki volunteers working in our Hospitals and also around the world.

    1. Avatar of Bronwen Logan

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