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Wellness center to help cancer patients
BRIDGTON — A wellness center scheduled to open in March is a place where women going through breast cancer treatment will be able to treat their mind, body and spirit, says the center's founder, Ann Ruel.
On Eagles Wings, Inc., a non-profit organization, was established by Ruel, a breast cancer survivor, who was diagnosed in 2011. The center, rented by Ruel and her husband Ron, is located at 236 Portland Road.
According to Ruel, once open, it will provide one-hour hot rock massages every Friday and Saturday, which will cost $75 per person. She said $37.50 of the cost will go toward supporting another breast cancer patient/center.
When enough funds are raised, Ruel said, she will be able to provide more massages and reflexology services. Reflexology, in a sense, is a massage, but focuses on pointed, specific areas of the feet, hands and ears, Ruel said.
"Reflexology ... was hugely healing to me," she said. "When you treat certain parts of the feet, it actually helps the organs ... function better," she explained.
Ruel said she will soon become certified in reflexology, so she can provide an hour of it at the center next summer, along with an hour of massages.
One year ago, Ruel underwent breast cancer treatment after discovering a cancerous lump, diagnosed as Stage III, on September 23, 2011. She decided to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction, she said, and endured intense chemotherapy and 28 rounds of radiation.
"I was fortunate enough that I could afford to have a massage and reflexology every week," Ruel said, "which really helped and sort of warded off some of the side effects of all the chemo."
"It's so debilitating," she said, of chemo. "It's just awful."
As Ruel recovered slowly from her treatment, during which she had a one-hour massage and one hour of reflexology, she said, she had a vision to open her own wellness center in her former Century 21 office.
While recovering, Ruel also worked with two naturopathic doctors, Julie Forbes, of Bridgton and Barbara MacDonald, of Camden, who assisted her with the side effects of her chemo and radiation, and helped improve her nutrition and energy levels.
According to Ruel, studies indicate that massage offers both physical and emotional benefits for women with breast cancer.
So, she and her family have been reconstructing the new facility, where women undergoing cancer treatment can be cared for in a beautiful, loving atmosphere.
"I just felt that women needed some help," said Ruel. "The doctors are good at giving you [care], but they are not there to comfort you and give you what you need to ... get through it a little easier."
Over the past few months, Ruel said, many people have donated their time, materials and even money to help open the new center.
Ruel said she hopes patients will leave the center with a new perspective on life and a healthier way of living.
"The goal is to give them love and support," Ruel said.
According to Ruel, she finished her own treatment, May 17, 2012. She started to regain her energy just this past December. "I started to feel a little more myself," she said.
The center will specifically treat women with breast cancer, but eventually will open to men and women with all kinds of cancer, Ruel said, as funding allows.
A "Zumbathon" will take place at Stephens Brook Elementary in Bridgton on February 10 from 2-4 p.m. to raise funds for the center. There is a $15 donation fee to participate.
Ruel is seeking other massage therapists to do one extra massage per month, with some of the proceeds to go toward another cancer patient or center.
Oncology patients who are in one year of active cancer treatment are eligible for a maximum of eight free massages, one per week. Massages will be scheduled for Thursdays only.
For more information, or to donate, go to www.oneagleswings2.com.