In honour of our lost mums - a cancer therapy room in the heart of Southsea
When workmates Samantha Worsey and Hannah Seager both lost their mums to cancer, a new bond was formed and the idea to launch a contact therapy room was born.
The Lagoon room at The Bathing Hut in Southsea would be a relaxing space for gentle and non-invasive treatments from comfort massages to touch therapies to alleviate some of the struggles of a cancer sufferer.
For Samantha, her late mother Patricia was 'a massive part' of her business on Albert Road, and when it launched in 2015, the hut was a mother and daughter enterprise.
Samantha says: 'In the early days of the business, mum was really involved at Southsea Bathing Hut doing the making.
'One of the things we spoke about when she was very sick was about the business continuing. Right to the end, when she was ill in the hospice, she was asking how the business was and how sales were.'
In 2018, Patricia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and sadly died four months later, in January 2019.
Natural skincare therapist Hannah, now 23, also suffered heartbreak when at 16, her mother Sam Poulter died from breast cancer.
She says: 'It was at that time when I was leaving school and making choices of what to do with my career. When I met Samantha and got the job here, we got talking about both of our mums, and she said she would love for us to offer cancer therapy treatments. I've wanted to do it for years. I think it was a sign from my mum to say it is the right time to go ahead and do it.'
In both women's journeys of pain and loss, the workmates discovered a crucial part in their mothers' cancer journey was missing - a treatment and wellbeing therapy away from the clinical four walls of a hospital ward.
When Samantha's mother got sick, she tried to book her into a treatment to make her feel better, but no one would book her in.
Samantha says: 'Having had the experience that we'd had as a family and watching my mum go through cancer and her desperately wanting to have treatment at a salon and sadly being turned away due to lack of awareness or training (because you do have to have specialist training) to offer these treatments.
It was a similar story for Hannah and her mother.
Hannah explains: 'When my mum was poorly, she went up and had treatments at the Macmillan Centre at QA hospital, which also does cancer contact therapy treatments.
'She absolutely loved it, and it was an amazing experience. But she came home and said the only thing was that I've spent so much time at the hospital it was going to the hospital for another treatment it felt too clinical again.'
When Hannah and Samantha came together at The Bathing Hut, it was the perfect opportunity to give something back from watching their own mother's struggle.
Samantha suggested skincare therapist Hannah Seager got training to perform the specialist treatments for people with cancer on a course at the Made For Life Foundation in Cornwall certified by The Complementary Medical Association, a registered healthcare organisation developed by oncology (cancer) experts.
Hannah says: 'I always wanted to offer that service to cancer patients because I've worked in the industry now for ten years. I've sadly had to turn clients away that are on a journey with cancer because unfortunately, beauty therapy standards don't allow us to work on clients when clients are crying out for it.'
The qualification meant cancer patients and beyond, which includes people in remission from the disease in the five years after recovery, could have access to six forms of The Bathing Hut's subtle energy transfer treatments that the hut has to offer.
Samantha echoes the importance of using trained holistic methods, combining the body, mind and emotions over traditional salon treatments due to sensitivities from pressure on an organ system in the body called the lymphatic system, which releases toxins to destroy cancer cells during chemotherapy.
Samantha explains: 'When people have chemo, it's targeting the immune system, so your lymphatic system is working in overdrive - because of this, a lot of salons shy away from offering treatments because they're scared that it will mess up with that system.
However, The Bathing Hut's accredited mindful touch and specially adapted energy touch techniques are gentle not to overstimulate the lymphatic system.
One of the massage therapies the Bathing Hut offers is a longshore drift message using a Chinese massage technique to calm the upper body and melt away tension so the mind can drift to a state of relaxation.
Each treatment completed by therapist Hannah is to help ease side effects like tension and stress caused by hospital treatments like chemotherapy.
Hannah says: 'Each person's cancer journey is different. So each treatment will be carefully adapted and tailored to suit every individual's needs or limitations.'
The Lagoon Treatment Room is one of the only treatments locally that offers contact cancer therapy.
Of the patients Hannah and Samantha have had through their doors, an aspect of the service praised highly is its influence on improving mental health.
Samantha, 41, says: 'The most lovely piece of feedback we're getting from people is saying they loved coming to an environment where they could feel like themselves again.
'Although we go through an in-depth pre-treatment consultation process where we ask about medical history and so on to ensure that we adapt to the treatment for every single client - it's not a medical environment.
The Bathing Hut has engaged with numerous cancer support services and charities since opening the cancer contact therapy to the public, so people can be referred to them for additional support if it is needed.
Both founder Samantha and therapist Hannah feel they can honour their mothers by helping people through a difficult time.
'They say one in two of us will have cancer in our lifetime, so it's incredibly common.
'I do think it's more important that we talk about cancer and things that can be done other than medical intervention, which is very important.
'If we can do a small thing to help people when they're at their lowest, then yes, we're doing a great job, and mum's looking down and nodding.'
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.
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