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Massage Therapy Prepared Me For the Worst Event of My Life

After strongly fighting cancer for over two years, my mother had pneumonia caused by a pulmonary embolism that put her in the hospital for three weeks. Two days after she came home, the unthinkable happened; she suffered a stroke and was unable to communicate.

I was floored. Then the ground fell out from under me while watching my mom's eyes as she realized she couldn't communicate with us and understood my father relaying the doctor's message: she wasn't going to recover this time. This was definitely the worst moment of my life.

My fiancé Nicoletta showed me love, comfort, and strength while I was processing everything that was happening. As soon as I regained my composure, the massage therapist in me kicked in.

I hit the books and researched post-stroke conditions and therapies, learning that my mother had Broca's (expressive) Aphasia where she could understand us, but her wires were crossed in most attempts to communicate. With this understanding, the family had many insights on how to make things easier for her and how to communicate a little better.

My sweet and loving fiancé jumped right into action, since she too is a massage therapist, and gave my mom spa experiences complete with hot towels infused with essential oils and herbs. You could tell that my mother immensely appreciated the hand and foot massages.

The anatomy training we received in massage school was good enough to communicate to nurses, doctors, and therapists, and we were able to draw on a network of friends and medical professionals to help.

Without me and Nicoletta and the massage therapy knowledge we have, I'm not sure how my brother and father could have handled the situation. Nicoletta and I were able to make drastic changes to the energy and atmosphere of the room by hosting nightly family dinners around her bed, holding positive conversations, and pampering her with love.

My mother passed as peaceably as we could have hoped. Nicoletta and I are so thankful that our training helped us turn a dismal situation into one of love and respect. As an OT (Occupational Therapist), my mother is very proud that Nico and I are continuing her legacy of being therapists (MT) and helping and teaching others.

In her honor, Avalon will be creating the Dr. Sophie Rydin Scholarship where students can apply after their first semester to receive $200-$300 off their tuition per month. To learn more and apply, please click here.

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