When I began physiotherapy school back in 2003 I knew very early on that, one day, I wanted to use my skills to help men and women affected by cancer. At that time, I don’t think I really knew what that would look like, but I knew that Cancer Rehabilitation (cancer rehab) is what I wanted to do with my career. What I didn’t realize back then, was that cancer rehab Physiotherapy was in its infancy, and there were very few places to look to for guidance (let alone formal courses); I was going to have to learn and grow my cancer rehab skills on my own.
After graduating, I began working full-time in general orthopedics; I felt strongly that having a solid background in orthopedics was very important in working in cancer rehab (and I still do!). During the evenings and weekends, I would read research articles and learn whatever I could about cancer treatments and cancer rehab; most of the articles at that time were about the benefits of exercise during cancer treatment, which complimented my background in the fitness industry.
The Move to Ottawa
In 2008 I wanted to live closer to family so moved back to Ottawa. Here, I had the great opportunity to fully emerge myself in the cancer rehab field for 3 amazing years. After those 3 years, I once again felt strongly that my orthopedic skills needed to further improve and remain strong, so I split my time between cancer rehab and orthopedics from that time forward.
My passion for learning motivated me to study at night (learning whatever was relevant to cancer rehab) and to continually take courses to strengthen my skills. I had a great work balance between orthopedics and cancer rehab and loved what I was doing. My colleagues were great and my patients were even more fantastic.
But something just didn’t fit…
But as the years went on, there was a nagging feeling in my gut. I felt an emerging disconnect between where I was practicing cancer rehab and how I really wanted to do things. If you know me at all, you know that I am passionate about a “whole person approach” (mind-body-spirit). I believe that each of us is an integrated and complex being, and that our physical bodies cannot be separated into parts, nor can we ignore the impact that our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and past experiences have on our well-being (and the research is now backing this up!).
In alignment with this belief, I felt that my physical cancer rehab practice space needed to match the type of whole-person care I was aiming to provide for my clients. I needed to create a safe and comfortable space that honoured people’s experiences and allowed me to care for the “whole person”.
And so, in 2015, my own home-based Cancer Rehabilitation practice was born!
Where I’m meant to be
At first, it was supposed to be a temporary space that allowed me to practice cancer rehab in a way that was true to my values. What I did not expect, was how well-received my home-practice would be from my clients. Clients were more relaxed, shared more about themselves (which gave me more context in building their recovery plan), and seemed more engaged in their treatment and recovery. When I reflected further I realized that, while I thought my home practice was a temporary space, it was accomplishing exactly what I had set out to achieve… a safe space where patients felt safe, comfortable and heard. Maybe this wasn’t so temporary after all!
In 2016 I was still practicing part-time at an orthopedic clinic on the days I didn’t work from home. Unfortunately, I developed my own medical challenges that forced me to leave my busy and fast-paced orthopedic practice entirely. This left me working from home full-time with my cancer rehab clients. My body had told me a story that I chose to listen to; it was time to slow down, find a better work-life balance, and focus on my true passion: cancer rehab physiotherapy, lymphedema and pelvic health.
Fast-forward to 2020
In July it will be 5 years since I took the leap to open my own cancer rehab practice. Of course, there have been growing pains, lessons learned and successes celebrated. (See an upcoming post about #2020believe coming soon.) I continue to be grateful for having the freedom to follow my passion in a way that is true to my values and I thank each and every one of you for sharing a piece of this journey with me.