Integrative arts: Finding comfort through age-old technique

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Feature photo for blog piece Intergrative arts: Finding comfort through age-old techniqueArtist explores integrative arts to ease suffering

An art teacher and working artist, Cora is used to finding creative solutions to life’s challenges. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020, Cora sought alternative therapies such as acupuncture as part of her treatment approach for pain and discomfort.

After she learned about therapies such as reiki and aromatherapy available through Hospice of the Chesapeake integrative arts program, she couldn’t wait to discover more. “The first time a hospice volunteer arrived to perform reiki, I was achy. I needed to curl up to be comfortable,” Cora said.

“Sue, my hospice volunteer, came in and put on music, and began talking to me. Then she used reiki,” she said. She felt the effects almost immediately. “I felt a deep warmth radiate from her hands. It went into my body, my hands, my head and through me.

Reiki is a safe, gentle, non-invasive form of natural hands-on, energy-based healing. Practitioners use their hands to deliver energy to the body, improving flow and balance of energy to support healing.

I appreciate the kindness and care at Hospice of the Chesapeake. No matter when I call or what I need, someone is there.

Afterward, Sue brought out aromatherapy oils, held Cora’s hands and began a slow, gentle hand massage. It was so comforting to Cora that she turned the tables — offering a hand massage to Sue, who accepted gratefully.

While her illness prevents Cora from returning to full-time work, she creates art to share with others. One of her favorite endeavors? She sews tiny fabric hearts, tucked into small envelopes. Inside, a message: “You’ve found a random act of kindness to keep or to share with someone who needs it.” Her only request of the recipient is to take a photo and send it to her.

She’s made 1,000 hearts. Friends and family have taken her hearts around the world. She has messages from as far away as Ireland and New Zealand. “It’s about kindness, looking for the good in people,” Cora said.

Today, Cora continues her battle against colon cancer but finds great comfort in reiki and aromatherapy and finds beauty every single day. “I appreciate the kindness and care at Hospice of the Chesapeake. No matter when I call or what I need, someone is there,” she said.

“Hospice is about living.”

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