Bota Bota at the CHUM: a day of volunteering | Bota Bota, spa-sur-l'eau

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Bota Bota

Bota Bota at the CHUM

Each year, during the holiday season, Bota Bota employees volunteer a bit of their time towards several organisations.

The 19th floor of the CHUM offers a spectacular view of the city on December 5th, 2018. A thin layer of fresh snow has fallen, coating the sidewalks and roofs, draping Montreal in the most beautiful white dress.

We are welcomed on the pneumology floor where 4 of our massage therapists have volunteered a few hours of their time, massaging hospitalized Cystic Fibrosis patients.

The floor, as the building it’s in, is new, big, bright. In its hallways, reigns an atmosphere of calm, where whispers seem to be the only right way to speak. One by one, the massage therapists are assigned a room and slip through the door, after putting on a gown, gloves and a protective mask.

Cystic Fibrosis is the most common fatal disease in Canadian children and young adults. This disease mostly affects the digestive and pulmonary systems. Although the disease and its course are different for each patient, continuous lung infections are the leading cause of death.

I sit down for a few minutes with Geneviève and George, both physiotherapists on the floor. They are important figures in the great story of Cystic Fibrosis: at the bedside of patients, they nurture every day a conversation around well-being and surpassing oneself.

The room in which we’ve settled is lit by neon lights, decorated by only a couple of lonesome chairs, their backs facing each other. Despite the somewhat cold atmosphere, a fire has sparked in my chest. Genevieve is relaxed, she answers my questions with ease. George, a bit more introverted, punctuates his sentences with his accent and “R”’s which roll off his tong.

We talk about their presence, their work on site and its particularity, which goes well beyond a simple physiotherapy session.
“Over time, we’ve become familiar faces to patients. This helps, of course, regarding the therapeutic aspect of the job, but also helps with the confidence they have towards us. “. This trust is at the heart of their relationship; talking about bronchial clearance or a dedicated exercise program is a conversation that must be attentive and thought-through, because of its delicate nature. Some things are harder to hear, to discuss.

Like physiotherapy, massages have benefits that go far beyond stretching. “Patients are generally anxious and it is certain that this relaxation helps them. Moments like these bring them peace of mind but also a renewal of energy that will have an impact on the long term. Their motivation will be greater when we come back to see them. We will be able to go further with them. ”

The small, tired eyes of Caroline, 39, say a lot about the one-hour massage she’s just received. Hospitalized every three months, the light which emanates from her surprises, amazes. She is one of the many patients to have benefited from massages offered at the hotel Dieu before the construction of the CHUM. George tells me that unfortunately, this service is no longer available, due to lack of available resources at the volunteer, animation and leisure service.

The massages finished, we meet up for one final emotional debriefing. Thibault, our photographer, tells me about the calm and the special energy felt in each room. The massage therapists describe the 4-Hand massage they were able to perform, and the care offered to a patient with Cystic Fibrosis, pregnant with her first child.

The doors of the CHUM close on this international day of volunteers, a somewhat beautiful and heartwarming coincidence. The last words of George still ring in my head: “In the future, I would like to remember that the ones at the heart of everything are the patients – it’s about being as holistic as possible when treating them”.

To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis, visit:
To make a donation, visit:

A very special thank you to the CHUM team present on site and Thibault Carron, our photographer on that day.