Jan 16, 2013 8:17 PM by Annie Snead
DENVER (AP) - Julie Bulatovic's dream is that all people struggling with the aftermath of cancer, and their caregivers, can receive the benefits of massage therapy.
About 15 of her massage therapists - most of those she has on staff at Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Cherry Creek - have been trained to give oncology massage treatments to cancer survivors.
Bulatovic knows the territory. Her stepmother had breast cancer years ago and has recovered. But the memories lingered - of the stress faced by her stepmother and the strain her dad lived through.
"I've always believed in alternative healing - and massage is part of that stress reduction, energy collection, energy healing," Bulatovic said.
"I thought, 'What a great way to use my business, help my community and offer something no one else has ever done' - which is offer free massage to the recovering clients (cancer survivors) and their caregiver because the caregiver has just as much stress."
She works with local hospitals and Re-Org, a Denver nonprofit founded for the purpose of providing massage therapy to cancer survivors to help them continue the healing beyond medical treatment.
Hand & Stone gives specialized oncology massages to patients 30 days from their last treatment and will continue that treatment for another six months for the patient and the caregiver.
The first treatment in the first month is free to both. And then, if the cancer survivor and the caregiver want to come back, treatments in the following six months are 50 percent off, or $49.95.
Re-Org has its own massage-therapy program for cancer survivors who have completed active treatment within the past 36 months, according to its website. Re-Org clients receive sessions every two weeks for up to six months. The first three months are free; clients are asked to make donations for the remaining sessions.
Dara Purdy, a massage therapist at Hand & Stone, said in one case she gave a massage to a cancer survivor who could hardly move.
"I loosened the muscle tissues so she felt more comfortable in her own skin," said Purdy. "She said she felt amazing - that she could actually move without pain."
"Not only do the massages help the clients physically, but lets them know that somebody cares," said Purdy.
"I think it lowers the stress," said Purdy. "It (the spa) doesn't feel like a medical setting, and it makes them feel like they are caring for themselves."
Erik Bostrom, Colorado regional developer for Hand & Stone, offers oncology-related massages at his Highlands Ranch location.
Bostrom's mother died in 2001 at age 52 from liver cancer.
"I've been through that process and certainly understand the stress on the patient as well as the extreme stress on my father as a caregiver," said Bostrom. "So I thought if we can do something to help out those folks, that's definitely a good thing."
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)