Globe University Massage Students Help Relieve Chronic Pain

“Suzette, I wanted to let you know that last evening and today is the first time since my cancer that I haven’t been in pain.”  This was the first sentence of a note that Suzette Plemel, massage therapy program chair of Globe University-Green Bay, found in her mailbox the day after her and two students, Amanda Davies and Kathleen Mistele, performed deep tissue massage on Maggie Lee.

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Maggie Lee’s thank you note to Suzette Plemel

Maggie’s Story

Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with Maggie Lee, alumnus and employee of Globe University-Green Bay to understand more of her recent experience with Suzette and students. During the interview, Maggie opened up about her past struggles with breast cancer and chronic pain.  She shared that after multiple surgeries because of a bilateral mastectomy, lymph node removal, and multiple reconstructive surgeries, she was left with nearly three years of chronic pain due primarily to scar tissue.

Before receiving the deep tissue massage, Maggie explained that her pectoral muscles always hurt. On a scale of one to 10, most days she gave her pain a five. Maggie had also spent time with a physical therapist who was able to reduce her daily pain. Her days of chronic pain were wearing on her. Through counseling, Maggie understood she was in a state of “flight or fight” in which any type of touch reminded her of the day in which she was told she had cancer. Having recently earned a degree in veterinary technology, she was eager to begin a new career but fearful that she didn’t have enough strength to hold an animal down.

All of that fear quickly disappeared since discovering the benefits of deep tissue massage and how it can truly help relieve pain from scar tissue. Throughout our time together, Maggie was thankful for the opportunity to do an interview. If sharing her story helped one individual not have to go another day in chronic pain, then she said she was happy. She was quick to admit that before setting an appointment for deep tissue, one should understand that the massage is going to hurt a bit but it is a “healing” type of pain, the kind you know will go away and truly make you feel better. Maggie also shared that while she still has moments of pain when the weather is cold and damp, it is not the same level of pain prior to deep tissue.

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Amanda Davies and Kathleen Mistele, massage therapy students, Maggie Lee, employee/alumni, and Suzette Plemel, massage therapy program chair

Suzette’s Story  

After meeting with Maggie, I also had a chance to sit down with Suzette and understand the story from an instructor and student point of view. In casual conversation between one employee and another, Maggie had shared her chronic pain symptoms with Suzette. After hearing her story, Suzette opened up her student lab to Maggie if Maggie was willing to try deep tissue massage. Suzette shared with Maggie that while Maggie wasn’t going to like her initially, eventually she would love her because she knew that if she was able to loosen the scar tissue, she would be able to relieve much of Maggie’s pain.

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Amanda Davies and Kathleen Mistele, massage therapy students, oversee as Suzette Plemel, program chair, works on Maggie Lee

Once in the lab, Suzette explained to Maggie that the massage was also a time to release any feelings and that this was normal, that the lab was a safe area, an area in which it was okay to let the body release all pain.

After the consultation, Maggie welcomed the students to feel her scar tissue. The students were asked to palpate the scar tissue to feel all of the lumps that existed. Suzette then showed them how to do some deep work to break up the scar tissue. During this time, Amanda held Maggie’s hand as the tears began to flow. The years of trauma and pain were being released. The students were then able to palpate the area once again to feel the difference in the area. A once-lumpy area was now smooth. They were provided a real-life patient in Maggie and felt the before and after effects of deep tissue.

Overall, this experience was a win-win for everyone. Maggie is left feeling much better and two students were able to see how their future career positively impacts the lives of others on a daily basis. If you or anyone else is suffering from chronic pain due to scar tissue, research the benefits of deep tissue massage. While this specific clinic is not offered every quarter at Globe University-Green Bay, the campus regularly hosts new patients from the community for students to learn massage techniques in exchange for client advice on how to improve.

For the current quarter schedule, email Suzette at splemel@globeuniversity.edu.

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