Kathy: Neck Pain and Breast Cancer

A couple of decades ago, Kathy (not her real name) and I enjoyed working together creating software products. When the project was over, we kept in touch for a few years, but then lost contact. So, I was delighted when Kathy recently contacted me and suggested lunch. Over lunch, I learned that Kathy had become a doctor. Wow! I also learned that Kathy had chronic neck pain and had taken time off of work to recover from breast cancer. I could see the toll that these ailments were taking on her. Kathy decided to try Feldenkrais.

I enjoy working with all my clients, but there was something particularly gratifying in working with someone that I knew and cared about from my past. Something karmic in how we both had left technology, both changed careers and ended up working to improve people’s health, and were once again working together.

So, I’m particularly delighted to share Kathy’s journey  with you.


Name changed to protect client’s privacy

neck pain women cropKathy started working with me four months ago because of neck pain from old sports injuries. She had also recently undergone surgery and radiation therapy for breast cancer. She was preparing to return to full time work as a doctor and was intrigued about the potential for Feldenkrais to help her learn new ways to move comfortably. After twenty Feldenkrais sessions, she is delighted that her neck pain is gone and she is feeling “fabulous.”

In our initial consultation, Kathy described her goals:

I enjoy caring for patients but my neck pain can make working difficult. Although I stay active and do physical therapy exercises, I still get uncomfortable when standing, sitting and typing.  My goal is to learn new ways to prevent pain and feel comfortable in my daily work.

To take work and stress off her neck muscles, Kathy and I began with finding a better way of sitting. Kathy fondly remembers these first few lessons.

Sitting had always been difficult. I had hoped to feel a little better, but, remarkably, after just a few sessions my neck pain went away. Before I’d felt like I was bailing out a boat to keep it from sinking, and I hadn’t imagined the pain could go away completely. Once it was gone, I saw clearly how much it had been affecting the my life and my overall energy.

Kathy and I then turned our attention to other daily activities such as standing, walking, reaching, and turning. Kathy describes her journey this way:

I could feel the difference after the first lesson and continued to see improvement though all twenty lessons, far beyond my initial expectations. There were many wonderful learning moments. For example, my neck strain seemed like it was caused by limited mobility in my thoracic spine, which I assumed was permanent. In one session, I laid on my back and tilted my knees. With Laura’s help, I was able to get the movement to go up into my upper spine. When I stood up and tried this movement, I no longer had to work to get my shoulders to relax. It was like they knew on their own where they needed to be, dropping down and taking the pressure off my neck. I felt taller, lighter, and freer.

Similarly, although I had recovered well from surgery, I still had a habit of avoiding some movements. With Laura’s gentle guidance, we began to explore where the guarding was necessary and where it was no longer serving a useful purpose.

Our work on movement supported my emotional healing. In one session I was lying on my back and Laura asked me to move my torso. I began to do it and then burst into tears, suddenly reminded of my radiation therapy experience. Radiation itself doesn’t hurt, but I found it distressing, and lying completely still on the table made my neck hurt. Repressing that memory had helped me move forward in some ways, but it had also disconnected me from my own body. With Laura’s help, I was able to let that time become just another memory and regain a deeper sense of wholeness and vitality.

All the things we did in Feldenkrais were complementary to my medical training and experiences with physical therapy. I learned new skills, and more importantly, a new perspective on moving comfortably in all aspects of life.

One of the greatest parts of the experience was getting to work with Laura. She has a such a positive, straightforward and respectful way of working with her clients. I hope to bring qualities I have learned from her to my own work with my patients.

Kathy described how she is currently feeling by saying:

I am no longer concerned about my neck and am confident that if the pain does return, I have the tools I need. I am enjoying feeling comfortable and I no longer feel like I’m running just to stay in place. Several people who have known me for years have noticed the change. For example, recently a colleague said “You look really different,” and then paused, trying to figure out what had changed. Finally, he said, “You look better than I have ever seen you! You look fabulous,” and I thought, “Yes, I feel fabulous”.

Are you also suffering from pain, be it in your back, hips, shoulders, or knees? If you would like to find your way toward ease, grace, and efficiency, then schedule your free Move-With-Ease consultation.