As a teacher and practitioner of Holy Fire Reiki, I have the honor and pleasure of showing people how to use their intuition to become more aware of their mind and body. It really is like watching a flower bloom for the first time. You see the person’s eyes light up with excitement and curiosity. You see a change in the way that they carry themselves. You see them blossom into a stronger, more vital person ready to show their uniquely beautiful soul to the world. Once in a while, I will get an exceptional student that actually teaches me something new about the importance of life. Marcia Hise-Lau is a Registered Nurse who has been battling cancer for over 14 years, and I have recently had the tremendous privilege of leading her through the final certification course for being a Holy Fire Usui Reiki Master. Her story of her struggles and how she came to Reiki is one that everyone should hear. Marcia’s journey of suffering, fear, gaining courage, inner strength, motivation and above all, the will to live is not only admirable, but inspiringly human.
Jaclyn Kalkhurst: When did you first discover you had cancer?
Marcia Hise-Lau: My official Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis was in September 2001. Now I can look back at the months before September and see my breast cancer grow from lumps in my right armpit to (a full on disease) When my ribs broke three months before my diagnosis, I just thought I had pulled a muscle in my ribcage, so I put on a rib belt and kept going on with life. As far as I knew, I had no family history of breast cancer, so the possibility of cancer never occurred to me. By August, I had put off my yearly mammogram, so I could take a test for a new job I was hoping to get.
My right breast was already beginning to look abnormal. When I finally got my mammogram, the tumor was very small and growing at the back of my breast. The woman who did my mammogram was wonderful. She made sure that the doctor reading my mammogram knew I had rib pain, and she was really the person who started me on my way to diagnosis and treatment. By the time I finally got to the correct chemotherapy treatment, most of my bones were broken and my lungs were starting to fill with fluid. Initially, I received two traditional IV chemotherapy drugs and a monoclonal antibody that was specific to my kind of breast cancer. I used a walker to help me move and oxygen to keep me going.
I was terrified to move because of my weakness and pain, terrified not to move because I knew my lungs and bones needed movement to heal, terrified to go to sleep because I might not wake up. My emotions were all over the place; I cried every day for over a year.
Jaclyn: What was your biggest concern or fear when you found out?
Marcia: My daughter! She was only 12 years old when I was first diagnosed. I wanted to raise my daughter! I started buying little gifts for her to get on future birthdays. Each gift had a note inside wishing her Happy Birthday and telling her I loved her. Before I left this earth, I wanted to get to know my daughter, and I wanted her to know me.
Jaclyn: As a nurse yourself, you must have already known your best course of action in terms of treatments. What did you think of your Western treatments of cancer?
Marcia: No one, no matter what, is prepared for a catastrophic illness like cancer. During my RN training, I was introduced to all the basic areas of hospital nursing. After I graduated, I specialized in the Operating Room. I worked in surgery for 20 years. The only experience I had with direct care of cancer patients was in nursing school. Because I worked the afternoon shift for many years, I did not come in contact with patients having cancer surgeries, as they are usually scheduled early in the day. I did not know the ins and outs of chemotherapy. I did not know how the side effects would feel. I truly did not know anything about what was going to happen to me. It’s a good thing that I had so many caring people help me during the first months of my cancer journey. Without the love and support of my family, friends and all the incredible hospital and office staff that took care of me, I am not sure I could have survived. Time, love, and hope are such precious gifts.
Jaclyn: It is more common now to find nurses with Reiki backgrounds. But in your particular circumstance, why turn to a holistic approach such as Reiki for your health. ?
Marcia: It is so easy to just sit in a chair and watch the rest of your life walk away from you. Why not see what you can do to enhance your life and wellness? My nursing school taught me that a patient is not just their diagnosis; each one should be treated as a whole person. In the 1990s, I was introduced to homeopathy, acupuncture, reflexology, and the Feldenkrais Method. Even though I knew that Western medicine was not the only way to treat something, I had no one to talk to about complementary or alternative medical care in 2001. Because I have worked so hard to recover from all the physical and mental side effects of chemotherapy, I wanted to find a way to rebuild my strength and energy without any more pills or chemicals. An Internet search for alternative medicine in 2013 introduced me to Reiki. The search gave me a list of Reiki providers in my area, and I chose one that seemed convenient.
Jaclyn:What did you think about Reiki when you first experienced it?
Marcia: I now know that each Reiki provider, Reiki client, and individual Reiki treatment is unique to that moment in time. My first Reiki treatment introduced me to something completely unfamiliar and new. Since I had no idea what to expect from a Reiki treatment, I just got on the treatment table, closed my eyes and thought “OK, Alice, jump down the rabbit hole”. For the next hour, I listened to music while the Reiki practitioner did a series of hand movements around my body. I did not fall asleep, but I was not really awake during the treatment. Things just sort of swirled around me, warmth and energy and questions and answers. After the session, I felt a sense of relief come over me, and it was so overwhelming I started to cry. I was told to drink lots of water after the session to help toxins clear from my system. Because I felt so good after the first treatment, I decided to do two more sessions in the following weeks, and that was when I decided to learn Reiki for myself.
Jaclyn: How do you think Reiki affected your state of health after?
Marcia: Learning Reiki and giving myself treatments has been very positive for me. I am stronger and have more stamina, my memory is better, and while I'm still not perfect, I am more balanced than before. I want to keep healing. And the more I learn about energy healing, the more I want to learn. After all, as long as I’m able to run after all the details that I don’t know yet, I know I’m alive, and that there’s more out there to live for.
Jaclyn: Were there other holistic practices that you turned to for support?
Marcia: Not at first, unless you call walking for exercise a holistic practice. In 2001, I had to use a walker, but I still tried to walk for a few minutes every day. Now, walking has become part of my daily routine. After my leg fractured in 2014, I found an amazing massage therapist in a Reiki Class who has been working with me on my pain and immobility problems. Recently, I have added a Feldenkrais Physical Therapist to help me retrain my body and work on bone and muscle injuries acquired in 2001.
Jaclyn: After so many years of battling cancer, you still went ahead to learn more and more about the practice of Reiki. And now you are a Master Reiki practitioner! What was your motivation?
Marcia: I am used to taking continuing education classes to keep my RN license. My first Reiki treatment made me curious about Reiki and how it worked. So, I took Reiki 1, which teaches you how to give yourself a treatment. I liked the class so much that I decided to take Reiki 2, which trains you to treat other people. After that, I had several major health problems in 2014, and I sort of lost my way. Once I was out of the hospital again, I focused on healing, recovering, and practicing my basic Reiki skills, in the hope that I could still learn more about Reiki in the future. I gave a lot of thought as to how, what and with whom I would restart my Reiki studies. In 2015, I found your site and scheduled a Reiki treatment. I liked the fact that you gave several weeks of classes for each Reiki level instead of teaching an entire course over a single day or weekend, and that you were willing to cover many varieties of energy healing. By now, you’ve introduced me to many other energy healing modalities, including crystals, and your Reiki 3 course has tuned up my senses and given me a chance to develop the gifts I was born with. I am learning to have faith in my intuition. Oh, I really wish I had known about Reiki 35 years ago!
Jaclyn: When you do your self-practice, is there a particular way that you use Reiki on yourself?
Marcia: I am still exploring and learning when and how I should use Reiki on myself.
Several days a week, I do a short Reiki Treatment right after I wake up. My daily Reiki treatments are in the evening before I go to sleep. In fact, sometimes I am so relaxed that I fall asleep in the middle of a treatment.
Jaclyn: Do you still have the same fears now as you did back when you first discovered your condition?
Marcia: My daughter is a grown woman now, and I got to see her graduate college! Yes, I still have some of the same fears, but I am a seasoned warrior now and know a great deal about my own treatment needs. I couldn’t live and enjoy the gift of each day if all I did was think about cancer. I still get a monoclonal antibody IV every 3 weeks to keep my cancer in remission, I still haven’t finished recovering from my 2014 health problems, and I have numerous tests and doctors appointments every month. However, Reiki has done a lot to increase my quality of life, and it’s helped me gain back some of the mental and physical strength that I lost with the cancer.
Jaclyn: For the people out there who have cancer and are considering a holistic approach to their healing, what would you like to say to them in terms of finding a holistic practice and the will to keep on learning/practicing?
Marcia: Cancer affects your whole body and your whole family in ways that you can’t possibly predict. Some oncology practices already integrate forms of complementary and alternative medicine in to their treatment programs. If your oncologist does not offer these problems, please do not let that limit your options. Never let someone tell you that you only have a certain amount of time. Your doctor doesn’t have the right to decide whether you live or die, and I believe you should be equipped to fight this thing with every part of your body, mind and soul. Learn everything you can about what is happening to you and what you can do about it. If you can, look at several different kinds of alternative care and find something that inspires you and helps you. Every religion recognizes that there is energy flowing through the universe, whether chi or magic or the power of God, and Reiki can help you use that universal energy for healing purposes, no matter what you believe.
Thank you, Jaclyn! I am both honored and grateful that you asked me to answer these questions. I feel that I’m just an ordinary person trying to do the best I can in life. Once again, you have helped me to grow by asking me to reflect on the last 14 years of my life.