Originally from Edmonton, Sheryl has had a massage-based practice since 1995. She taught at the Grant MacEwan University for 14 years and ran her own centre that specialized in women’s health, an area she says is often misunderstood.
“So much of my career I’ve been a bridge between mainstream wellness and the not so mainstream – breast massage is one of those places. Breasts are a highly criticized and highly charged part of a woman’s body but they have tissue needs just like the rest of the body. It’s the same with the abdomen.”
Sheryl says she was inspired to delve into breast massage when she was working in a hospital in her 20s. “A nun in her 70s came in for breast cancer treatment and said to me – ‘Don’t ignore your breasts honey. Take care of them,’ and I thought… other than going for regular physician assessments, what the heck can we do to proactivity create healthy breast tissue for ourselves? It wasn’t until years later that I realised this [breast massage] is something we can do.”
Sheryl says that in many parts of Europe, breast massage is an expected part of a normal massage treatment. “It’s commonplace there, and it’s not sexualised. We think we’re so open here in North America but I see we have an imbalance. Nudity is very sexualised.”
“There’s something really precious about caring for a mom in the childbearing year. Right from the beginning of her pregnancy to when she gives birth and then also providing care afterwards. It’s such a big process and it’s wonderful being part of their journey with them.”
In the prenatal massage course, Sheryl will be teaching the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy and helping students to differentiate between the normal changes of pregnancy and the abnormal. Participants will have the opportunity to massage pregnant women, learn about client positioning, draping and good body mechanics, and become familiar with the stages of labour and massage labour support.
Sheryl said, “I’m so excited to teach these courses at VSOHA. It’s such powerful healing work, both in the therapeutic value of the treatment itself and the empowerment it gives women.”