When Reiki was first offered in 2018 at the Perelman Center, “virtually no one within the Health System had heard of the practice,” said Sharon Edelman, who leads the volunteer program and has herself been a Reiki volunteer at HUP for nine years. Today, a decade – and over 13,000 Reiki sessions – later, Reiki have become an important component of patient support services. “I have had the privilege of watching our ‘drop in the ocean’ transform into a powerful wave,” she said.

Reiki, which uses a noninvasive, gentle touch, has helped patients as well as caregivers and staff better cope with stresses in their lives. One patient, who was undergoing three months of cancer radiation treatments at Perelman, said, “Sitting in a quiet room with soft music and delicate, soft touches was so helpful in relieving the stress that accompanies the cancer treatments and uncertainties. The only negative I had was when the lights came on and my session was over.”


Another patient who had been on an oncology floor, told Reiki volunteer Vince Gilhool that when she gets Reiki, “her mind shuts right off. I think it gives her a temporary break from the endless ‘fight or flight’ cycle.”

Reiki is one of several support programs at the Abramson Cancer Center. “Patients who were unable to receive treatment because of high blood pressure are now responding to the therapeutic benefits of their Reiki session without any other intervention,” said Clarice Maggio, BSN, OCN, of the ACC Infusion Team. For all Reiki volunteers do, “we are not just thankful but eternally grateful for the difference you make every day.”

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