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May 14, 2010 > Women Helping Women

Women Helping Women

One Woman's Story of Hope and Healing

After graduating from a wheelchair and an intensive chronic pain management program, Jan Partridge started looking for local classes and programs that would help her continue on the path to reducing her pain and regaining her independence.
She looked long and hard, trying out several programs that didn't fit her needs. Then, by coincidence, Jan happened to be visiting someone at Washington Hospital and saw a copy of the Hospital's Health & Wellness Catalog.

That's how she discovered the Washington Women's Center.

"And off I was to discovering many physical, educational and massage opportunities!" Jan remembers.

The first Women's Center program that Jan became a fan of was the official Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program. It was a perfect fit.

"I was impressed with the medical information requested for the arthritis program, and between talking to the center's coordinator, Kathy Hesser, and being able to communicate my special needs and health to a medical professional, I felt I would be in good, qualified, capable, encouraging and educated hands."

She enrolled in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program in September 2008 and continues to attend on a regular basis.

"Kathy is a positive, upbeat, knowledgeable, encouraging professional, and with my attendance in the arthritis classes, I very seldom have to resort to a wheelchair, my daily pain has decreased, and my balance and range of motion have improved.
"I am more knowledgeable about arthritis and how to live with it, and I don't let it rule my life!"

Jan points out that due to the popularity of the arthritis exercise program, additional sessions - all taught by trained and supervised instructors - are now offered, including brand new section open to men and women, in addition to two sections reserved exclusively for women.

Jan says each instructor offers a unique interpretation of the Arthritis Foundation guidelines, which adds variety to the program while also making it more convenient, with both daytime and evening hours.

Since becoming a regular participant in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, Jan has enthusiastically branched out to other classes and offerings at the Women's Center. One of her favorites is the Lunch and Learn Program, which offers noontime sessions led by expert speakers who share information on a variety of topics and answer questions from participants.

"The Lunch and Learn meetings are one-hour long, thus respecting a woman's busy day," Jan says. "This is just like a lunch date, with interesting women to talk to and interesting topics. And if time is of the essence, you can bring your lunch."
Jan has attended a variety of Lunch and Learn sessions - from low sodium cooking to managing chronic pain - and she says she enjoys the fact that the speakers have all presented their information from a non-biased and objective perspective.

"Some of the most memorable classes have been the ones presented by a registered dietitian," Jan says. "We not only learn to try new foods and new, healthier ways of cooking, but we also get to sample everything while we are 'in class' and take home recipes.

"What more could we ask for?"

Funny, Jan has the answer. Another Women's Center offering that falls squarely into her favorites category is the Wellness Massage, performed by licensed massage therapists.

After enjoying multiple massages at the Women's Center, Jan unabashedly touts the healing hands of massage therapist Vides Mlay.

"Her fingers are sensitive and very therapeutic," Jan raves. "She senses which muscles are the worst off and concentrates on them. She also can tell if I want just to relax, enjoy the aromatherapy, and listen to the music while getting my massage, or if I'm in need of conversation or laughter.

"I have had many a good one-hour conversations and laughs along with my massage and came out not with only relaxed muscles, but a relaxed and uplifted spirit."
With the help of the Washington Women's Center programs and classes, Jan says she now looks at life through a more optimistic lens.

"Kathy's always-positive attitude, her singing through class, and daily inspirational quotes have made me smile more and look at life more positively," she says. "I have now rejoined society, done more things and taken more classes. I no longer sit in pain all day, depressed and unable to go out. The movement and joint flexibility has changed my life immensely."

For other women in the community looking to improve their overall health and wellbeing, Jan says she highly recommends all the programs she has participated in.

"All women need to take care of themselves and put themselves at the top of the list sometimes, and the Washington Women's Center is the place to do it."

Find your story of hope and healing

For more information about programs and classes at the Washington Women's Center, visit or call (510) 608-1301.

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