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Ancient form of massage offers new hope for healing

Jennifer Bradley performed Jin Shin Jyutsu massage on Moonyeon Colville at the Lucille Parker Markey Cancer Center. Colville is receiving radiation for a recurrence of breast cancer. Jin Shin Jyutsu is being researched at UK to determine whether it helps cancer patients who have pain and nausea.
Jennifer Bradley performed Jin Shin Jyutsu massage on Moonyeon Colville at the Lucille Parker Markey Cancer Center. Colville is receiving radiation for a recurrence of breast cancer. Jin Shin Jyutsu is being researched at UK to determine whether it helps cancer patients who have pain and nausea.

The room has the familiar trappings of a healing massage space — low lights, gentle music, soft white sheets on a cushioned table.

But what is different is the near-absence of movement.

Jennifer Bradley sits quietly for minutes at a time, barely touching her patient, Moonyeon Colville, who lies silently, breathing deeply.

Bradley is practicing Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient Japanese healing technique that predates acupuncture. The goal of the light-touch massage is to get the energy of the body flowing in the best way possible, Bradley said.

"We think of it as kind of a jumper cable," she said, "a spark to get the energy going."

Bradley, who began offering Jin Shin Jyutsu as a volunteer at the Markey Cancer Center, worked with center director Dr. Mark Evers to secure a $49,500 grant from the Lexington Cancer Foundation.

Through the grant, the center is offering five free Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions to any Markey patient. Evers and Bradley also are conducting research to evaluate the effect of the treatment on pain, nausea, fatigue and other complications common to cancer treatment. Patients can be referred by a doctor or social worker or can make appointments themselves, Bradley said.

Colville, who is receiving radiation for recurring breast cancer, was one of the first to sign up.

"I'm very interested in energy healing and meditation," Colville said. "I was very excited that something like this was available."

Colville said she could tell the difference after the first session. She got through an entire afternoon of errands after a radiation treatment and realized that she wasn't suffering from her usual fatigue.

Cancer treatment can be a trauma to your body, she said.

"It's sort of like an electrical box and you get short-circuited," she said. Jin Shin Jyutsu serves as the much-needed electrician.

Dr. Jay Hayslip, a Markey oncologist, said he has referred several patients to Bradley. Hayslip said he doesn't make it a practice to refer patients for complementary treatments such as massage, but Bradley's professionalism impressed him, and he likes the idea that the Jin Shin Jyutsu is meant as a complement to other treatment, not a replacement.

Bradley came to learn the ancient art after her mother-in-law developed a brain tumor. The family was told that she had weeks to live. Instead, she survived nine months.

Bradley, whose sister had been treated with Jin Shin Jyutsu, took classes to help care for her mother-in-law, who suffered extreme headaches.

By using the healing practice, Bradley said, she was able to help alleviate her mother-in-law's headaches until the day before she died.

Inspired by the relief Jin Shin Jyutsu provided, she continued her studies.

She now has more than 450 hours of formal training, and the former jewelry buyer for Tiffany & Co. ultimately opened a studio in Lexington.

Bradley has offered the free sessions at Markey for about 10 weeks. The grant runs for a year. She said word is slowly spreading about it, and more patients are coming her way.

She understands that some people are hesitant to try something new, something unknown. They often are surprised to learn that unlike with traditional massage, patients don't have to disrobe. Jin Shin Jyutsu is performed over the clothes.

As part of each one-hour session, Bradley said, she tries to teach clients some basic self-healing methods that they can use at home.

"It's a nice empowering way to help yourself," she said.

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