Of all of the wonderful things I had a chance to experience during the ISPA East Coast Media Event, along with all the coverage and content I gathered, my interview with Lynelle Lynch, President of Bellus Academy, is the story I want to be heard and shared the most within the spa community. It’s important. You can help make a difference in the industry, so listen up!
During my one-on-one with Lynelle, I learned something that I didn’t even know was happening in the world of spa.
Once, if you were pregnant and you went to go get a massage, there was nothing available to you. Now pregnancy massages are everywhere. Yet today, if you are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation, you are not allowed to go to a spa. They would turn you away. How traumatic and emotional.”
Wow. Think how heartbreaking it must be as a cancer patient or survivor attempting to take back some of the control cancer has stolen from your life, only to realize it has raised its ugly head in a place you retreat to for sanctuary. Instead of feeling empowered, you will walk away feeling as if you no longer have any control at all. I agree Mrs. Lynch: very traumatic and emotional indeed!
I was happy to hear, however, there are now options and an educational solution to help spas and spa professionals avoid creating such a devastating experience for the clientele that may need them the most.
Bellus Academy, in partnership with Wellness for Cancer, a 501c3 organization, and with support from the Global Wellness Institute and leading cancer doctors, worked together to develop a custom training program that helps debunk the myths surrounding claims of massage spreading cancer or being contraindicated for cancer patients. Instead, the training provides education on what are safe proper protocols to follow, and helps identify treatments that can be offered at spas to allow cancer patients and survivors to experience the nurturing and de-stressing benefits massage and touch can provide during such a difficult time in an individual’s life.
The Global Wellness Institute’s website discusses the Wellness for Cancer Initiative and identifies the disconnect in the spa industry:
First, spas must have the proper perspective about supporting clients with cancer, which means understanding that our role is well-being, not disease care. Second, we need to take responsibility for our role in holding space for our clients to reduce their stress, find inner peace and increase their emotional resiliency. Individuals don’t want to go to cancer-specific spas; they want to get away from their cancer. They want to visit your spa.”
According to an official press release, Lynch indicates,
Starting in September we have it built into our curriculum at Bellus Academy. We have a full spa at 20,000 square feet in San Diego, so we’re hoping that we’ll be a catalyst for all other spas in Southern California by offering the training not just to our students coming in but also to professionals within the San Diego county community.”
The 10-week, 50-hour “Wellness for Cancer” training curriculum has been designed to be flexible, and can be completed entirely online or at the academy. The hands-on training is held in class with a Wellness for Cancer certified educator. Lynch says the in-class program gives students “a much more in-depth ability to have conversations, and to question things if they are not really understanding it well.” All students will have to complete case study modules where they identify and find patients, offer complimentary services, and help them to relax and de-stress.
Wellness for Cancer has created a little tree logo (pictured above) that will be utilized as the universal symbol for spas employing certified professionals, and those establishments that have chosen to “debunk the myths” by providing safe treatment options to individuals living with or surviving cancer. Lynch hopes that the symbol will become widely recognized, “...like when you go to restaurants and see the little gluten-free symbol.” Certified partnerships can be further developed on the Wellness for Cancer website, where guests will have the ability to perform a search and find places they can go for spa services, or identify products they can utilize during their cancer journey.
So in the future, 5 years from now,” says Lynch, “we’re hoping that this message gets out there and that more spas send their therapists to this level of training, and that more product companies put this into their menu of services to identify which products can complement the different services.”
I whole-heartedly believe in the healing power of touch, and though a trip to the spa may not be a cure, we all know there is so much—emotionally and physically—that can benefit from a massage. Will you join the movement and debunk the myth about massage spreading cancer?
To learn more about Wellness for Cancer initiative, or for inquiries on how you can become a certified Wellness for Cancer spa or therapist, contact Bellus Academy President Lynelle Lynch at Llynch@bellusacademy.edu or Spa Director Joanne Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: Bellus Academy President Lynelle Lynch
- Confessions of a Spa Bunny blog
- Wellness for Cancer
- Bellus Academy Wellness for Cancer press release
India K. Robinson, MPA
On a regular day, "Spa Bunny" blogger India is a Public Administration professional in Washington, DC. She has a Masters in Public Administration from American University. Known to family and friends as the ultimate party planner, travel expert, and spa guru, India has a natural talent for organizing and hosting the best in themed events, luxury destination travel, and spa getaways. For India, event planning is not just a hobby, its a passion.