Can Hands Really Heal? TJP Blog

Posted:Wednesday, May 24, 2023

By Marshall Dahneke

“Running for cancer relief,” is the tagline for The Jacquelyn Project. I ran the Boston Marathon in my daughter’s memory but I also ran because of massage. I ran with massage.  I ran for massage. So as this first phase of The Jacquelyn Project winds down, it seems appropriate to highlight the importance of massage to me.

Massage therapy is central to running. Massage aids recovery and healing and is impactful whether I need to bounce back from an injury or from a hard training session. After marathons I limped into the massage retreat and ninety minutes later felt like I was skipping out the door. That transformation was magical. While I embrace many other adjunctive therapies to accelerate recovery and promote wellness, nothing will replace massage therapy as my “go to” core intervention.

In addition to the physical benefits of massage, the healing hands of a therapist can also offer emotional relief and cleansing. Massage therapy can pull and hold us in the moment, providing mental relaxation and emotional reprieve. Massage helps us to be more mindful, more peaceful.

After my daughter’s devastating diagnosis of stage IV cancer, I learned that the best any oncologist could promise was to extend her life, not to save it. Yet I was aware of people who fully recovered from their stage IV cancer. The medical profession calls this spontaneous remission since it is not accomplished through their treatments. My understanding is that ‘spontaneous remission’ is our body healing itself. After taking the steps to fully activate the immune system, our body has the capacity to eradicate cancer, at least in some circumstances.

Multiple steps seem to be involved in fully engaging our immune system including proper nutrition focusing on whole, fresh, and natural foods, daily rest and recovery, appropriate physical activity, as well as emotional balance. I learned that emotional cleansing is a key step towards a fully activated immune system. Massage therapy can play a key role in helping those with cancer (and everyone else) to be more present, more in the moment, and better able to let go of resentment, rumination, and toxic thoughts. Who could benefit more from the healing power of touch than those under the burden of a terminal diagnosis? The purpose of “running for cancer relief,” was to create opportunities for individuals with the greatest and most urgent needs, who otherwise might not be able to access these services, to benefit from massage.

Imagine practicing life-altering massage therapy in a retreat with an encouraging culture and supportive climate. Massage Heights, a Gold Sponsor of The Jacquelyn Project, is a chain of spa retreats in the United States and Canada whose Retreat owners are passionate about creating positive work environments that value and inspire their staff. Massage Heights believes in the healing power of touch and that the work of massage therapists and estheticians truly does change the world, one person at a time.

I love massage! It is a core part of my own wellness routine as I strive to improve both my running endurance and speed … at a more advanced age. I’ve also been privileged to have a front-row seat to an even more impressive and inspiring role that massage therapists can play in relieving and lifting those fighting through their darkest days, through healing hands. I feel the deepest warmth and respect for those who serve others with hands that have the potential to enable genuine healing.

Thank you Massage Heights for your generous support of The Jacquelyn Project and for your ongoing efforts to provide healthy and healing environments for both therapists and clients!

Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link.

Learn more about Massage Heights, proud Gold Sponsors of The Jacquelyn Project: