When I was in High School, age 15, I started becoming interested in massage during a Comparative Religions class. We discussed the roles of touch in different cultures and belief systems, and a group of us became so interested, in those social-revolutionary days of the '70s, that we started the "Massage Therapy Club", much to the horror of school administrators. There was nothing they could do to prevent us from this pursuit-there was no dress code, we were allowed to wear bathing suits to school (which we only did under our clothing, exposing them only for the club meeting at lunchtime) and we were able to find a faculty sponsor, which made us in compliance with rules regarding school clubs. Despite the assumption by many of the opposing adults to our activity, we were not after hormonal gratification, but were truly interested in massage and its benefits. We were ahead of a groundswell of enthusiasts, back in the bad-old-days when being a masseuse was often considered synonymous with being a prostitute.
Our group found journal articles on bodywork, we bought the few books on massage that were available at the time. We practiced on each other on beach towels in the California sunshine on a secluded lawn in our high school that was built on the campus of an old military base in the San Fernando Valley, and to my best knowledge, all of us went on to some sort of career in the health related fields. One a nurse, another a doctor, and me, a massage therapist as well as a singer/songwriter.
Now that I am to the point that music performance is a hobby, and having come through several years of work in Physical Therapy along with my own cancer experience, I am focused on helping those with chronic disease, chronic pain, in cancer rehabilitation and managing lymphedema. I think often of those days on the lawn with my young friends exploring the ways that touch can be soothing and health-promoting. Next week, I will begin a course in Oncology Massage, something that I already know quite a bit about as a giver and a receiver, but something that I want to really understand at a deeper level. I'm excited that our field has grown to the point that a few hospitals employ massage therapists on their staffs. I love my work and am so grateful to be alive at this interesting time in history.