Off to Guy’s Hospital again today but this time, my appointment wasn’t a horrible operation or a nasty or uncomfortable check-up. It was a lovely aromatherapy massage, courtesy of Dimbleby Cancer Care.
I was astonished when the St John’s Dermatology department at Guy’s and St Thomas’s, who have handled my malignant melanoma, asked if I would like four free complementary medicine treatments. Er, YES I WOULD. I then felt an immediate frisson of puritanical guilt. Should the NHS be giving away aromatherapy sessions? Erm, shouldn’t nurses be getting a pay rise instead? But I quickly discovered that the money comes from independent charity Dimbleby Cancer Care, not from the NHS, so that kind of makes it all right. Nurses should definitely get a pay rise, but that’s a separate issue.
The charity was set up when broadcaster Richard Dimbleby died of cancer in the 1960s, at the age of 52. At the time, cancer was an unmentionable disease and meant an almost inevitable death sentence, so when Dimbleby openly discussed his diagnosis, he did a huge amount to break a taboo. Though people are still very uncomfortable discussing cancer (and who can blame them?) DCC is still doing its best to remove the stigma from this horrible disease.
These days, when thank goodness treatment is so much more effective and many of us have a good prognosis after cancer, the charity – current ambassadors are Claudia Winkleman and Jo Brand – mostly concerns itself with supporting people as they live in its shadow. When you’ve been caught out once by cancer, you become extra vigilant, and that’s not a relaxing way to live.
It was such a treat to meet my lovely therapist and have a chat about essential oils. We were in a bog standard NHS consulting room, but the edges had been softened by a display of grasses, some of those flickery LED candles and there was even spa-type music playing in the corner. There was a proper massage bed and in no time I was having a lovely shoulder massage. The therapist could virtually twang my knotted back but by the end of the session I was feeling a lot more relaxed. It was lovely to feel hands on me that weren’t either wielding a scalpel or palpating for possible tumours. At the end, I was given a little aroma tube with essential oils to waft under my nose if I was feeling stressed. Bliss!
I am also testing some gorgeous aromatherapy products from Tazeka Aromatherapy. They come in the most beautiful bottles and I am really impressed so far, but I want to use them for a few more days before I report back to you. But have a look at the Tazeka website in the meantime and you’ll see what I mean about the design and packaging.