Cancer patients will have the opportunity to experience the relaxing techniques of Reiki, a Japanese stress reduction technique, beginning in January 2012 at Simmons Cancer Institute (SCI) at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. Ellen Brotzman-DeSart, education coordinator for the Side-by-Side Wellness Center at SCI, said Reiki will be open to all cancer patients regardless of where they are treated. During a Reiki session, patients may choose to sit or lay flat. The 30-minute sessions involve a light touch or placement of the practitioner’s hands on the feet, shoulders and/or head. Many hospitals use Reiki, including Northwestern, M.D. Anderson, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Locally, Memorial Medical Center uses Reiki in their hospice program. “It is suggested for patients of any age and can be practiced in any setting. Medical professionals report that Reiki reduces anxiety, and patients need less medication when care includes Reiki,” Brotzman-DeSart said. An integrative therapy, Reiki initially will be offered in the infusion area as well as in the SCI Wellness Center. Certified volunteer practitioners donate hours to the program so it can be offered free of charge to patients. Sessions can be scheduled during treatment or before or after clinic appointments by calling Sheila Jessen at 217-545-5408. Reiki has been made available to SCI staff on a trial basis for the past several weeks so they could share their experiences with patients. “Reiki is a very deep, relaxing experience,” said Cheryl Camp, ambulatory care aide manager at SCI. “During Reiki, I am able to completely relax. It reduces my anxiety level, which helps with my high blood pressure. I can feel the positive energy from the practitioner's hands once they are placed on my feet, shoulders and head.” Reiki practitioners interested in donating time to the program can call Ellen at 217-545-0798 weekdays.