After a busy day and an even busier week I stepped onto the sailboat, Hado, in Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook and left my stress and worries on the dock. I stretched out on the port side of the stern, turned off my cell phone and just relaxed.
Down below, in the cabin, Ellen Kelly was stretched out on a comfy bed, relieving her body and mind of all her worries and stresses as part of Precious Passage, a unique stress reduction program.
This Madison mom, a five-year breast cancer survivor, was participating in her second therapy session aboard the Hado. At her side for the hour-long session was Carline Lutynski of Norwich, a principal investigator of Precious Passage. The Hado never set sail; it sat moored to the dock as it always does during this program.
Improving quality of life
“We are a non-profit doing cancer relaxation programs,” says the program’s website. “Breast cancer women, whether study participants, or others who want to improve their quality of life, are welcome to use the effects of wave motion to their reduce stress.”
Funding for the therapy comes from Charter Oak Credit Union Foundation.
Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer have different levels of stress at different times during their treatment. For Sandra Davis, of Madison, her stress has taken different forms since she was diagnosed about a year ago.
"Will I ever have to do that again?"
“I’m more stressed now because I wasn’t even thinking about the future, I was just going day-to-day (during the initial stages of her treatment),” Davis said. “Now that it’s all done and I have a complete picture of what I went through. Now it’s, ‘Oh my God, I never want to do that again and oh, will I ever have to do that again?’”
In 2004 Lutynski had just finished her own breast cancer treatment when she came up with the idea for this unique program. “In Fall 2006 we had the first women come aboard,” said Lutynski.
The non-profit group owns a boat, The Daphne, which is in currently in storage awaiting rehabilitation. Until she is ready to take on the responsibility of helping to reduce breast cancer survivors’ stress the group is working on the 35' Pearson sailboat, Hado, thanks to Captain Joy Sherman of New Haven. The name, Hado, appropriately means energy in Japanese.
"Touched by cancer in different ways"
“I’ve been touched by cancer in different ways in my family,” said Sherman. “My father died of cancer and I have a lot of friends who‘ve had breast cancer,” she added. Sherman believes in giving back to the community and this is a perfect program for her.
“My whole initial thing was to give that experience to people and say 'Yes, the water really is that powerful and healing,'” said Sherman.
While many studies do not actually say why water is such a powerful healing tool, Precious Passages organizers believe the wave motion mimics life in the womb. “It’s actually a prenatal, intrauterine memory that we remember from our time in the womb. We call it a cell memory event that the body knows that motion,” explained Lutynski.
Being brought back to an earlier, safer time
While on the boat, taking part in the study and therapy, women are brought back to this earlier, safer time. “We didn’t have to do anything. We were totally at peace. We were totally fed. Everything was taken care of, we were warm and protected,” she added.
As Kelly sat on the deck of the boat after her 60 minutes of relaxation she looked refreshed, calm, and at peace with herself. Even after years of experience on boats, mostly power boating, Kelly says this experience is satisfying on a very different level. “Stepping off of hard ground, onto this,” said Kelly, taking a deep breath. “There is something so different about this.”
“You’re lying down doing this,” interjected Lutynski. “Whereas, generally on a power boat or going out on a sailboat you’re active, you’re not allowing yourself to really absorb the experience."
An intention of disengagement
After carefully thinking about it and reflecting on her experience below deck, Kelly explained why this therapy works for her. “It is an intentional disengagement of the stresses I have in life,” said Kelly. “This is for me. I don’t have to worry about anything. I’m not going to think about anything. There are people who have prepared this for me.”
After first experiencing the relaxation therapy in September, Kelly was very, very anxious to return to Hado. She says there is absolutely no way she can recreate this soothing, relaxing experience.
“No, no, no way,” said Kelly. “That’s why when the second opportunity came up I took it! Yes! Yes!” Kelly added. “No, I don’t have this opportunity. No. Unless I found an empty boat and nobody noticed me, which I don’t think would be a good idea!” she said, laughing.
“It’s just lovely,” said Kelly. “It’s like getting a whole night’s sleep in an hour.”
For more information about Precious Passage’s schedule and availability contact Carline Lutynski at (860) 889-3424