I have two hours this coming Thursday to teach a roomful of massage students about Oncology Massage. I will fail at this task. I know I will fail because I have deliberately, and with careful attention, set myself up to fail. I look forward to it.
If you’ve been around me for anything more than an hour or so, you know that I practice oncology massage, and I teach oncology massage basics whenever I can. This is a three day, 24-hour, continuing education workshop where we routinely end the class by telling people how much more they have to learn.
About 8 weeks ago, when I took a good long look at the syllabus for the Pathology class I’m teaching, I saw that I had one class period to cover oncology massage. Just one class. Two hours. To me, this is barely enough time to really make sure the class understands what cancer actually is, other than something you wear pink or run 5Ks to “cure.” I decided that I needed to get in front of this topic right away.
The information I can cover in two hours is maybe just bordering on enough to give students the right intake questions to ask — the questions that will help them know when they need to refer someone to someone who is trained in oncology massage.
Fortunately for me, every class mentions a cancer of whatever system we happen to be studying, so I have frequent, relevant times to set expectations. I have repeated variations on the phrase “more training is needed” since the first week of class. I have tried to repeat often that the best therapists are those who work within their knowledge and skill set — those who are generous with admitting they don’t know something. I am trying to set them up to know what they don’t know.
This Thursday, armed with our textbooks and the 70-or-so slides that go with it, we will attempt to talk through oncology massage. We will fall short. We will, in other words, fail. And in doing so, we will gain the much more valuable knowledge of our own limits. I will be happy with that. If I can release these students from this class with more questions and curiosity than answers and certainty, I will have done my job well.
Let’s get to falling short.