Healing Spaces for Cancer Patients and Caretakers

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Healing Spaces for Cancer Patients and Caretakers

By Debra Duneier

While designing wellness focused interiors, I repeatedly remind myself of the words of Hippocrates, “Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.”

Tomatoes, all of us have been touched by cancer. We may have experienced our own battle with the disease or have been able to offer moral support or even be a caretaker for a struggling friend or family member. If the natural forces within us has the power to heal as Hippocrates believed, how can we enhance those powers by creating a healing and calming interior space? During times of hectic schedules of treatments and tests, patients and caretakers alike need to escape. It would be a perfect time to visit the countryside or a tropical island, but this is most often not practical. “It’s important for patients to nurture their mind, body, and spirit,” says oncology nurse Sharon Overath, RN, OCN, who works at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-­Bedford. “Escaping for a few moments can be as important as the next round of chemotherapy.”

Creating a calming and peaceful bedroom or hospital room can make you feel like you are in your own personal retreat space-your space for healing. This can positively impact emotional and physical health, boost optimism and hope. Intelligent design can make any room a calm space, and this can create an ease that allows mind, body and spirit to use its powers to heal itself.

The loss of my two closest friends to cancer, Marilyn and Goldie, are a constant force in my life’s work. They inspired me and encouraged me to explore the effects of design on people and the planet. The journey it has taken me on is called EcoChi. A unique design approach that combines green and sustainable practices, wellness studies and spiritual design philosophies attained from various ancient cultures to create healing spaces.

Basic Principals that are Important for Every Tomato

One of the most important visual elements in a space is color. Colors affect healing and the overall state of mind. The most soothing colors duplicate those in nature. Soft blues, greens, and beige tones create the image of a pale blue sky or a new plant in the spring; they are earthy and grounding. Soft pinks, peaches, and lavenders have a relaxing effect as well.

Other key considerations in creating a visually pleasing and positive space include light, furniture placement, natural elements (such as water and plants), and favorite objects that elicit a positive emotional response.

Foundation Principals of Feng Shui and Healings

See the following Feng Shui-inspired tips to create a space that will inspire healing and harmony:

  • Pamper yourself with things you love. Scented candles, soothing music, incense– items that touch your five senses will constantly remind you of all the wonderful things life has to offer. In doing this you will feel supported and calm.
  • Put your bed in the power position. For good chi, or energy in the room, you should place your bed with a solid wall behind it, in full view of the door. You should be able to see the door but not be in line with it. Across from the bed, place an appealing visual. It can be a painting of a beach scene or a photograph of a street in Venice– whatever represents your vision of an ideal future.
  • Let the light shine. Natural light is a mood elevator, so if you must be indoors, maximize the sun. If possible, use solar shades so you can control both the heat and the amount of light. If natural light isn’t feasible, use full-spectrum white light bulbs that duplicate daylight during awake hours. As you get closer to sunset, use warmer colored light to enhance sleep.
  • Create a water flow. In Feng Shui water fountains bring abundance in one’s life in terms of wealth, friendship, and health. And the pushing up of that water represents life. Most people also find the sound of moving water soothing.
  • Surround yourself with living things. Green plants, pets, or fish in a bowl or tank are all fantastic for healing.

It is important to remember how the chi, or energy in your body, vibrates like a transmitter and attracts the same kind of energy that surrounds it. By creating a calm space, you can foster a more tranquil, centered chi and establish room for your body, mind and spirit to restore, rebuild and to heal.




  • Debra Duneier is the Founder and President of EcoChi, LLC, a Feng Shui Master Practitioner, an accredited LEED® Green Associate and Certified Eco-Designer. Debra is the creator of the EcoChi® system of design and the award winning author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience, released September, 17th 2011. Her training, background and perspective have made her a resource on topics including: Feng Shui, Green Design and Sustainability and Wellness, for media outlets including Martha Stewart Radio, Brokers Weekly, Social Life Magazine, Barons.com, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC, Sierra Club, The Huffington Post and the Associated Press. In addition to her EcoChi design consulting business, Debra is a keynote speaker and also runs workshops and seminars for a variety of corporations and trade organizations. She finds grounding in nature, friends and family in her North Fork, Long Island home in New York. Visit Debbie at: www.ecochi.com/ or debra@ecochi.com

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