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Siesta Key Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019 7 months ago

Cancer inspires Siesta Key shop designed to help people

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Daughter-in-law's answer to a casual question forms the basis of a family business.
by: Samantha Chaney Staff Writer

Step inside Siesta Healing, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by the peace. Salt lamps glow softly. A massage chair sits in a patch of sunlight. Soft music plays.

But oddly, a battle inspired Karen Mahlios to open the shop. A loved one’s battle against cancer.

Almost two years ago, Mahlios learned her daughter-in-law was found to have breast cancer. As Amy Handel underwent initial rounds of chemotherapy, her husband (Mahlios’ son, Brandon) asked her a simple question: “Brandon said, ‘What do you want to do when you get better?’ Just to give her something to think about,” Mahlios said. “And she said, ‘Just help people.’”

From there, Mahlios began looking into holistic healing. Brandon and his brother Jason got started designing and constructing a store to showcase the discipline. They decided what to stock and then hired yoga and meditation teachers, an acupuncturist and an herbalist.

The family intended the effort as a surprise for Handel and showed her their progress when she was on her way to surgery. “We didn’t tell Amy about what we were doing,” Mahlios said. “The day we showed her was a rainy day. And she did a little rain dance in front of the store because she was so happy.”

These days, after her last round of chemotherapy, she is well enough to work at the shop a few hours a week. Teaching others how to better care of their minds, bodies and spirits, Mahlios says, is one of the primary goals in running the shop.

Customer Rachel Kelley learned of the shop through Hendel’s Facebook page, “Amy’s Journey of Healing.”

“This is just such a pure, centered, family-run business,” Kelley said. “After talking with Amy about working here, immediately she said, ‘We have to help the people.’ And there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. When you move forward with pure intentions, good things happen.”

Salt lamps, pH-balanced water, reading materials and more are sold at Siesta Healing.

Reuben Fernandez, who teaches Tai Chi and Qigong at Siesta Healing, said his experience at the 10-month old shop has been “wonderful.”

“There are very, very nice people that work here, and the students that I’ve had have been very warm and very receptive,’’ he said. “And also, there’s a lot of gratitude for what we’re giving them. I consider being able to share this with people a blessing. To share with people who don’t know about it yet and, once they find out about how good it is, then they want more.”

But Mahlios is aware that some people are skeptical about holistic techniques. That said, she asserts that maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about taking one approach or the other.

“Of course, go check with a medical doctor, but do your research,” she said. “So many people are set with high blood pressures, high sugars that can be controlled through natural means and the right water. I would say just keep a healthier lifestyle for your body and also take time for your mind.”

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