19 May, 2021
Interview with Clare Fransen, Harbour Hospice Complementary Therapist
When Clare Fransen studied massage she didn’t get the encouragement she’d hoped for.
“The teacher slapped my wrists and told me they were too weak. He said, ‘You’re never going to last, lady.’”
So Clare went nursing instead and it wasn’t until she’d raised seven children that she began thinking back to that career she’d never taken up.
“I decided to give massage another try so I studied oncology massage, reiki and reflexology.”
Clare joined the Harbour Hospice team in 2014 and works with patients in their homes as well as at its Inpatient Units.
“A lot of our patients have different sites and drains on their bodies that you need to work around, so you have to do your homework,” she says. “If a patient has lymphedema, for example, which is excess fluid in the limbs, a deep tissue massage would be very damaging and leave them in a lot of pain.”
The benefits of massage for the patient are relaxation and enjoyment, Clare says. “Massage can also help lower pain levels and anxiety levels. Many of our patients have been through trauma. Some have gone through chemotherapy or radiotherapy and had nausea and vomiting. So I’m giving them psycho-emotional support.”
Many of Clare’s elderly patients have never been massaged before.
“I always start with their hands and feet, then they start chatting and then they say ‘ooh, that’s quite nice’.”
Clare has massage techniques that can wake a lazy bowel and skills in reflexology that release tension in necks and shoulders. When patients are stressed or anxious she employs her knowledge in Reiki.
“And you can just see them start to slow their breathing and calm down straight away.”
Touch is very healing and when people haven’t been touched for a long time then they crave it, Clare says.
“Massage is very intimate and it’s an absolute privilege and honour for me because patients are allowing me to come into their home, and they’re allowing me to touch their body. I love being able to give, and I also receive by giving.”
The question begs, does Clare feel any bitterness towards the teacher who almost derailed her career in massage?
“No I don’t. I don’t regret anything,” she reflects, “because my years of nursing gave me insights I wouldn’t otherwise have. The timing back then wasn’t right. Things have turned out the way they were meant to.”