Four Seasons Resort Bali’s dedicated Cancer Care Massage and bespoke wellness programme
In a first for Four Seasons Resorts in the Asia-Pacific region, a dedicated Cancer Care Massage and bespoke wellness programme are now available in Bali.
Agung Rai was 41 years old when she found a lump on her left breast. She was diagnosed with a hormone receptorpositive breast cancer, a type of cancer when cells grow in response to the hormone estrogen.
For more than one year, she had to bear chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiations, and a lifetime hormone therapy to prevent the return of the disease. The battle was too lonely to be waged alone. Fortunately, she found support in Pink Fighters Bali, a community of women living with breast cancer and part of a support group of the Bali Pink Ribbon Foundation.
The side effects of the treatment were severe. Hair loss, joint pain, nausea, hot flashes, fatigue and numbness were just some of what Rai experienced after the ordeal. “The treatment was a long and tiring process. My body ached and sometimes I had it carefully massaged but only on the back or feet. I did not dare to allow the therapist to touch me anywhere on the chest,” says Rai even now, four years after she was diagnosed. She is not alone in being afraid to have massages during or after cancer treatment.
Most of spa and retreat centres are also reluctant to treat guests with history of cancer – all with a strong reason: the therapists are not equipped with the knowledge on how to care for a cancer-ridden body. After all, it was only in the late 2000s that studies about the benefit of massage on cancer patient started to emerge. With an estimated 19.3 million new cancer cases occurred in 2020 alone, it ranks as a leading cause of death and an important barrier to increasing life expectancy in every country in the world (Global Cancer Statistics 2020).
As a former nurse specialising in children’s cancer care, Four Seasons regional director of spa Luisa Anderson is fully aware of this lack of supportive therapy. “When I first joined the spa industry, there was no treatment of any kind for cancer patients because the belief back then was that we could harm them. It is only recently that supportive therapy becomes part of the cancer journey,” says Anderson. Massage is not a luxury but a necessity for a person diagnosed with cancer.
Last year, 12 therapists from Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay and Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan followed an intensive training with Christine Clinton. As a certified specialist and founding member of SATCC (Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care), Clinton taught the all-women therapists to understand the needs of a cancer patient at any stage during the cancer journey – pre-treatment, during treatment or rehabilitation. “Cancer medical treatment is very aggressive and it massively affects the body. Cases such as swelling, scarring, collapsed vein, skin sensitivity, and many more are common on cancer patient. But, most of all, they need love and care. We try to create an environment of complete support and acceptance so they feel safe to be vulnerable,” says Anderson.
In a first for Four Seasons Resorts in the Asia-Pacific region, a dedicated Cancer Care Massage is now being offered at both Four Seasons Resorts’ spas in Bali. Women from Bali Pink Fighters were invited for trials, including Agung Rai and Sari Ardani. “The massage was very gentle and relaxing. I have no lymphatic nodes under my left arm, so the massage really helped with blood circulation on the left side. I could feel the tension released in just a few minutes. The therapist also applied some techniques to boost my metabolism,” says Ardani, a breast cancer survivor and a mother of three children.
Elevated by energy
Putu Santi Martadi is the perfect embodiment of a gentle and soft-spoken spa therapist. With 17 years of experience at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay’s Healing Village Spa, Santi supervises the operational aspect of the recently revamped wellness destination and was one of the Cancer Care Massage-trained therapists. “Being able to comfort the breast cancer survivors has been educational and moving for us here. I know that I can’t heal them but at least my touch can help to ease their pain,” says Santi. Now, she and her colleagues are confident to treat cancer patients with a gentle 60- or 90-minute massage.
The spa’s new facilities also allows guests to embark on the resort’s bespoke wellness journey, Elevated by Energy. Housed in a two-storey building, it offers 10 all-suite spa rooms with state-of-art heated-quartz sand bed for inversion therapy and massage, coloured light therapy, gemstones and crystal singing bowls, as well as healing rituals. Expertly combining ancient wisdom with modern science, the cancer patient can be sure to receive a holistically healing experience when they stay at the beachfront resort. Supported by a fully certified yoga master, healer and the soothing soundtrack of the ocean, the experience is not only good for the body but also emotionally healing.
The resort serves a highly nutritive menu created by a certified clinical nutritionist, Miles Price. A founder of Life Clinic Hong Kong and a member of British Association of Applied Nutrition & Lifestyle Medicine (BANT), Price recognises food’s powerful healing properties when it is carefully chosen and cooked right. On the menu, one will find locally-sourced produce as well as a balance of protein, good fats and vegetables. Catering for all preferences whether vegan, gluten-free, carnivore or pescatarian, the dishes are not just tasty but loaded with vitamins and nutrients to boost the immune system.
Guided by gratitude
The same intention of complementing cancer treatment plans with a personalised wellness programme centred around mindfulness, healthy lifestyle and nutrition is also evident at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. The verdant riverside resort is home to the Sacred River Spa, with two resident experts and trained therapists. Nature’s healing property is strongly felt when one stays at the resort. Curated by resident wellness mentor and former Buddhist nun Heni Ferawati, the Guided by Gratitude retreat offers a holistic programme that includes meditation, blessing rituals, massage, yoga, and the deeply relaxing Sacred Nap under a bamboo bale by the river.
Catering to people at various stages of the cancer journey, the treatment will soothe the nervous system and increase the sense of calm. An in-depth consultation will be conducted prior to the retreat to determine the type of cancer, treatment and side effects. “The therapist will adjust the treatment accordingly, using oils to soothe dry or radiation-irritated skin, release scar tissue and provide lymph support,” explains Santi.
The resort also offers a Sattvic-inspired menu. Rooted in the ancient Ayurveda philosophy, the menu features organically-grown fruits and vegetables, herbs, cheese, calming spices, grains, nuts, and seeds. Created by executive sous chef Wayan Sutariawan with insights from spa and wellness manager Faraaz Tanveer, the vegetarian dishes promote longevity and immunity without sacrificing flavour. Start the day with a breakfast of Masala Dosa or Sattvic Taco, on to lunch with Mushroom and Pearl Barley Risotto, and end with a dinner made of hearty Semolina Spinach Fettucine with Vegetarian Meatballs.
Through nourishing food, restorative treatment and supportive environment, cancer patients are invited to restore their energy. The goal is to make them feel stronger to better able to handle whatever is happening in their lives.