By Sally Kupczyk, RN
The path that led me toward a career in Zen Shiatsu is one that is close to my heart. My passion for caring for and treating others began when I was growing up at home.
My mom was an energetic woman. She was a single mother with a full-time job, who still found time to volunteer for others. This would involve spending hours chopping vegetables prior to the fundraisers; cleaning and cooking for a few senior citizens three to four times a week; and spending Sunday afternoons in the basement of our church helping with bingo. Whenever someone needed her help, no matter the time, she would drop everything to lend a hand. I went wherever she went. I wanted to grow up to be just like her.
When my mom wasn’t volunteering, she would often come home from work complaining of neck and shoulder pain because she had been sitting in a darkroom for hours viewing and correcting negatives. To help her, I would massage her neck and shoulders until she fell asleep. She would awaken with a big smile on her face and give me a hug and comment on how wonderful her neck and shoulders felt. This really stuck in my head, as I was delighted that I could do something to ease her pain.
I didn’t quite understand her pains and aches, until one summer I worked at her film processing company, doing the exact same thing that she had been doing for years. This type of work can definitely take a toll on a person’s body. My mom has long passed, but the memory of her caring ways and willingness to help others will remain in my heart forever.
When I was attending nursing school, I had a part-time job on an oncology unit working as a patient care technician. It was amazing to find these patients were in such good spirits, while they were in so much pain. This was my first opportunity to care for cancer patients. I found the same type of connection when I was working on 9 Kellogg at Rush University Medical Center. My interactions with patients motivated me to find a way to help these patients ease their pain.
A few years ago, while taking a reflexology (foot massage) workshop, I found that I enjoyed it, but I wanted to treat the entire body while integrating the theory of Chinese medicine. I wondered if there was an Eastern method of bodywork. A fellow student informed me that he was enrolled in a school that taught Asian-style bodywork, based on 2,000 years of traditional Chinese medicine using the meridians/channels of the body to assist in the flow of energy. After I investigated the school, I knew this was where I wanted to be. So I spent the next 18 months learning an ancient healing art based on Eastern philosophy.
Last October, after completing my training, I joined the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program. This is a team dedicated to treat patients; the “whole person” in body, mind and spirit. It is an honor and pleasure to be part of this team and further assist in the healing process. If you are interested or would like more information, please call the Cancer Integrative Medicine at Rush University Medical Center 312-563-2531
Sally Kupczyk is a nurse and a certified Zen Shiatsu practitioner at Rush University Medical Center. She completed her studies at Zen Shiatsu Chicago. She has been a nurse at Rush caring for a variety of patients for the past 10 years.