Cape Coral’s Kristi Sanders stole a lot of cancer, but she’s committed to taking back everything she can.
“My problems were a perfect storm of misery,” she said.
With the services of Images by Carleen, a therapeutic day spa, the real estate appraiser came back to life and was happily looking forward to her wedding this month.
In her infancy, spa owner Carleen McIlveen founded WISDOM, a Cape Coral Community Foundation fund, to offer complementary, donation-based treatments to alleviate the side effects of cancer, cancer treatments, and other conditions that affect the immune system. The fund is named after the acronym for weakened immune systems due to illness or medication. It’ll help people like Sanders.
“The power of touch is critical to healing,” said McIlveen. “You feel like you are back in control of something in your life.”
Sanders, 40, who suffered from invasive breast cancer, had full hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation as part of her treatment. Because the cancer was hormone limiting, she aged quickly. Months ago, she was in pain from cancer-induced arthritis. If she made a fist, her hands would lock. She couldn’t do yoga alone. Doctors told her she had the body equivalent of a 60- to 70-year-old.
Through reflexology, massage, nutritional counseling, aromatherapy, Reiki, and life coaching at the spa, she has regained her mobility, 75 percent of what she had before cancer.
For example, guided stretching helps restore mobility in surgical tissue, said Karen Gomez, a certified holistic life and wellness coach.
She led Sanders through stretches, helping keep her elbows above her head and supporting her back while Sanders reached across her body.
Diet helps provide energy to the body and solve skin problems caused by cancer treatments.
“Cancer can feed on sugar,” Sanders said. She has healthy, energy-producing foods like boiled eggs with her.
Through reflexology, Gomez says it can tell when the body is responding to stress and anxiety.
“Cancer breeds in stressful environments,” said McIlveen. Relaxing music played throughout the spa and aromatherapy soothed the nerves.
Sharon Madison, a massage therapist, said she understood chronic pain after being injured in a car accident. She sought help from a chiropractor before turning to massage.
“We’re helping them take care of themselves to get them through the fight,” she said. “It’s not always about pain.”
Sanders said she saw progress within two weeks of working with the women at the spa.
“My hands haven’t locked since then,” she said.
While the services won’t treat cancer, they will help alleviate symptoms and train participants to be their own wellness advocates. It is a service that the three women consider necessary.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know someone in need,” said McIlveen.
How do I donate?
What: Imagine by Carleen, a therapeutic day spa in Cape Coral, founded WISDOM Integrative Therapies, a fund that offers cancer patients free or inexpensive treatment.
Where: 1718 Cape Coral Pkwy E, Cape Coral,
Donate: Send checks to the Cape Coral Community Foundation, 1405 SE 47th Street, Cape Coral, FL 33914 Make sure the wisdom is noted on the check.
Information: 471-7029 Imaginebycarleen.com/ or www.capecoralcf.org