Oncology Massage is the modification of existing massage therapy techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and its treatment. Adaptations to massage are required for the increased risk of lymphedema, the possibility of DVT and blood clots, low blood cell count, radiation or surgery, medications, medical devices, as well as many other potentially complicated adverse effects that may arise. Many cancer treatments require long-term modifications to facilitate the advantages of oncology massage in a way that will incorporate additional precautions for the safety and comfort of the client.
Patients and their caregivers report many and varied changes after massage. A therapist trained in oncology massage can provide a variety of positive effects from relaxation to scar tissue moblization to pain reduction, but the anecdotal evidence suggests that there are many benefits beyond even these that are enjoyed by people at all stages of the cancer journey.
● deep relaxation
● reduced stress
● improved sleep
● eased constipation
● increased alertness and mental clarity
● reduced anxiety
● less nausea
● reduced pain
● reduced anxiety in advance of surgery
● easier recovery from anesthesia
● reduced post-surgical pain
● improved moblity and appearance of surgical scars
● reduced swelling
● improved range of motion
● easier adaptation to implants and expanders
Following Radiation or Chemotherapy
● reduced anxiety in advance of and during treatment
● reduced post-treatment fatigue
● improved appetite
● improved peripheral neuropathy
● decreased anxiety
● decreased depression
● increased feelings of well-being
● being pleasantly distracted
● improved body self-image
● restored hope
● satisfaction in participating actively in a part of the healing process
Please arrive at least 15 minutes early for your first appointment. Your paperwork will ask questions about your current and previous treatments, surgeries, and medications, as well as any current or previous side effects. Please bring anything you feel will benefit you and your massage therapist for your session.
Yes, when practiced by a skilled therapist with background or training in massage and cancer. Massage should be modified to work around side-effects or complications of radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and medications. Blood counts should be considered in massage design, as well. Even after years of survivorship, there are a few simple but critical adjustments in massage therapy, for example, if lymph nodes were removed or treated with radiation, or if bone metastases are present.
Your massage therapist will ask about treatments during the interview and explain any needed massage modifications. They will combine a thorough intake process with sound clinical judgement and clear communication about what to expect in the session. They will adapt the massage to your needs and requests, fashioning a hands-on session that relaxes, energizes and reduces pain and discomfort.
For many people an oncology massage is their first massage. Whether a person is a seasoned recipient of massage or receiving their first massage as a part of cancer treatment or recovery, the experience is at once unique to that person and shared by so many others. Massage can mean different things to the same person at different times in the cancer journey, but most find that massage provided by a trained therapist provides so much more than they expect.
"My therapist understands the difficult road of cancer & addresses the physical pain associated with the mental anguish."
"All through my diagnosis and treatment, the only time someone touched me and it didn't hurt was on the massage table. It was like an oasis in the desert."
"As soon as I had a surgery date, I started going in tighter and tighter circles. [Massage] was a big help in being relaxed, but ready when the day came."
"[Massage] was a great way to get through the stress of chemotherapy."
"We scheduled a massage a day or two before each chemo. That way my mind and body were looking forward to the massage, not to the chemo."
"I not only felt relief from the taxing effects of chemo and the debilitating muscle/bone ache, I ended up feeling an overwhelming sense of peace."
"It's my oasis. I get bogged down with doctors' appointments ..... all these big things coming at me. I get on the massage table and everything just melts away. For me that is a gift and he is a healer."
"During my sessions I felt completely at peace, a tranquility and serenity of the soul. Euphoria of the mind completely transcended the quiet horror of cancer."
"I was so sick from concurrent chemo & radiation. Massage was the only place where I felt in control and could help myself."
"Massage has created an overall sense of well being. I'm at peace with mastectomy & more at peace with my body image."
"It's like a vacation from cancer."
"After chemotherapy, I started receiving some gentle massage. I found I was able to care for my children rather than having to stay in bed for days."
"My oncologist told me I was in for a year of hell. It has been. But no matter how rotten I feel, it is never more than six days from my next weekly massage."
"Massage helped me to accept the new me. I am alive, I am beautiful, scars and all."