Volunteer Volunteer Stories Charlie's Volunteer Story "It’s a privilege and a blessing to be able to use complementary therapies to enhance cancer care" In 2017, we provided 4,000 hours of complementary therapies to people living with cancer in the Wessex area. As a therapist at the Chandler’s Ford and Cosham centres, I’ve seen first-hand the difference that therapy can make. Previously a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, my journey to become a therapist started when I saw that Wessex Cancer Trust was advertising the role. A friend had recently passed away, which I saw as a bit of a sign. It was a life-affirming moment where I thought, ‘I want to use my skills to be able to enhance people’s cancer care.’ I now spend ten days a month providing holistic therapies – facials, aromatherapy, reflexology and massage, to clients, as well as running workshops. Cancer can be a very practical process. Health professionals do an amazing job of diagnosing and treating it, but sometimes the emotional effects can be overlooked. There’s still a stigma that we should just be able to ‘get on with it’. We’re here to help with that emotional journey, as well as providing some physical relief. Complementary therapies can help you relax, relieve anxiety, increase confidence and boost mood. Coming in for a therapy also means you’ve entered a safe haven where you can relax, switch off and put yourself first. I also work as a wellness coach. It’s a bit like life coaching, except it deals with issues for and about your body, your overall health and general well-being. I don’t tell people what to do, instead giving support and guidance to create a definition about what being well looks like and establishing goals to help you get there. One of my clients is a man whose chemotherapy wasn’t successful, so he’s embarked on immunotherapy which works by helping the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells. I’ve been using reflexology, which is the practice of applying pressure and massaging certain areas of the hands and feet, to encourage healing and relieve stress and tension. It’s based on the principle that certain areas of the feet, called reflexes, are linked to other areas of the body through the nervous system. The arrangement of the reflexes has a direct relationship to the area of the body they affect. My client has told me that he believes reflexology has helped to bring down his tumour marker levels (tumour markers are substances produced by cancer or by other cells of the body in response to cancer), which has been incredibly inspiring and uplifting for me to hear. Everyone I see is at a different stage of their journey – both physically and mentally. It’s a privilege and a blessing to be able to use complementary therapies to enhance cancer care. They’re not just a ‘nice thing to have’ – I’ve seen first-hand how they can dramatically improve people’s lives.