A few years after founding her Tyngsboro-based integrative health center, Body Destinations LLC, in 2000, Brandi Giles noticed that many of her clients were battling cancer.
"We had a large population of patients that were coming in with not just stress-induced complaints, but complex complaints like oncology-related symptoms," she said.
Giles, of Dunstable, began writing a program centered on oncology wellness. She recently completed a year-long, grantfunded cancer survivorship program with The Cancer Center at Lowell General Hospital called "Bridge to Wellness." The program, now available to license and use in oncology medical facilities and hospitals nationwide, has an integrative care approach and provides a host of therapies and practices designed to meet the needs of an individual patients, according to a release. Services include massage therapy, meditation and yoga.
"There's not many places you can go nationally to get care after you've commenced your cancer care and there's this tremendous need," said Seana Mulcahy, spokeswoman for both Body Destinations and its affiliate company, Mendwell, LLC.
Giles said Mendwell, the new company she coowns, is "rethinking the process to 'well.'" "We're looking to provide wellship, which means that we are in the hospital setting, in the infusion room identifying risk factors, mediating those as best that we can through our programming," Giles said, "So that a patient, when they finish their care, we've already addressed what their next steps should look like for the next six to seven months to a year, which is where that bridge to wellness comes from.
According to Lowell General spokesman Will Courtney, the infusion room is where patients receive chemotherapy.
"The bigger part of what they do is the one-year survivorship program. That's something that will be required by cancer centers eventually," said Courtney, adding that therapists offer hand and foot massages to cancer patients while they're receiving chemotherapy as part of the program. "Lowell General is very proud of it because we are really ahead of the curb with it."
Vera Tith, a breast cancer patient, said the "Bridge to Wellness" program has been amazing for her. The Lowell resident said it was tough for her to lift her arm after surgery.
"It helped me to feel better," Tith, 65, said of massages offered through the program. "I think that it's amazing." Tith, like other cancer patients at Lowell General Hospital, was able to receive the program's services free of charge thanks to support from TeamWalk for CancerCare, a big annual fundraiser in which corporate partners and participants raise money to support the Cancer Center's services for patients and their families.
"I share everywhere I go," she said. "Sometimes people don't know that it's available." Asked what is the most rewarding aspect of her work, Giles said being a witness to patients' journeys.
"The story that we get to be part of is the most rewarding. It really clarifies your own purpose in your own life," Giles said. "We get to see heroic stories everyday. Everyday, when we're in the clinic or in the infusion room we get to meet spirit that beats science, and it motivates us to be better."
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.