Volunteering as a complementary therapist has given me the perfect way to say thank you.

Volunteer massage therapy with the NHS

Volunteering as a complementary therapist has brought a very special and personal opportunity for me to say thank you.

Today, Monday 12th April sees the reopening of close-contact services in Enfield and throughout England. As well as giving us all the opportunity to get a much needed haircut, it also sees the reopening of complementary therapies like massage and reflexology.

Like many massage therapists, I have found it a challenging time, however it has also been a special time.

In November 2020 I received notice through my professional association that University College London Hospital (UCLH) was looking for volunteer complementary therapists to offer much needed treatments for a new staff wellbeing project.

If it weren’t for the staff of this hospital, I wouldn’t be alive today.

When I realised it was the University College London Hospital (UCLH), I couldn’t believe it. It isn’t too far-fetched to say that if it weren’t for the amazing staff of this hospital, I wouldn’t be alive today.

I am still under the care of the hospital, returning periodically for blood tests and check-ups.

In 2017 at age 49, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember the meeting at UCLH with the consultant urological surgeon. 

He was pretty straightforward. He told me I was young to have prostate cancer. He described the tumour as having both animal cancer cells and monster cancer cells. He said it was a very aggressive cancer and if we didn’t act, I would likely only live another few years.

As I left the appointment, the consultant’s words were ringing in my head. “Let’s not mess around. We’ll remove the whole prostate. Animals are bad enough. We definitely don’t want more monsters.”

Cards from well-wishers during my time in hospital

3 weeks later I had a prostatectomy for the removal of my prostate at UCLH Westmorland Street. The size and positioning of the tumour meant the procedure wasn’t straightforward.

This meant more time in hospital and more time under the care of their brilliant doctors, nurses and other staff.

Whilst I was in hospital and each time I’ve gone back, strangely, I feel like I’m going into a place of worship, I have that much gratitude and reverence towards the staff.

I’ve so much wanted to give something back, but volunteer roles understandably tend to be working for the benefit of patients not staff.

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The UCLH is very innovative and pro-complementary therapy, so it is no surprise to see a staff wellbeing project like this.

I have been volunteering at the hospital since early March, giving clinical massage treatments for pain relief to staff referred through the occupational health team. 

Similar to the Palmers Green treatment room, at the hospital I am treating typical musculoskeletal pain conditions, like low back pain, tendinitis and shoulder rotator cuff injuries. 

volunteering as a complementary therapist

One of the treatment rooms at the UCLH wellbeing project

Today marks the official opening of the wellbeing project. It also sees the arrival of more complementary therapists.

It is still early days, however, from the feedback we’ve had so far, the initiative is clearly going down well. 

There is so much gratitude – and not just from those receiving the massage. I’m just pinching myself to have this opportunity to give something back to the staff of a hospital that means so much to me.

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