A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating, whether it is spoken to us personally or to someone we love. That one word strikes fear in our hearts. As minds reel with questions and try to grapple with the reality, lives become consumed with doctor’s visits and treatment. Anxiety becomes a constant companion.
Oncology massage is very different than what we typically think of when we say “massage”. It truly is therapy in every sense of the word. It is body work that combines simple touch with integrative modalities to bring about whole body healing. This method of therapy addresses the symptoms of both cancer treatment and the disease.
The whole body is under stress when illness and disease is present. As the body is struggling to fight off the disease, the mind is struggling with the emotions that the disease invokes. Science has proven that there is a tremendous connection between body and mind. Oncology Massage Therapy helps bring healing to both. The different techniques that are employed will boost the immune system, strengthen compromised organs, build up blood count, enhance the feeling of well-being, and lessen depression. It can also help with diarrhea, constipation, lack of appetite, insomnia, exhaustion, and lower the pain and numerous other side-effects from chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and surgery.
Those patients who have had surgery that involved the removal of lymph nodes are at risk of Lymphedema, a condition caused by the lymph system being compromised. The remaining nodes no longer have the same capacity for transporting fluids through the body, thus causing a backup of fluids which leads to swelling. Oncology Massage integrates safe protocols that will address those issues. Some therapists are trained in lymphatic drainage and can help reduce the swelling. Those therapists who are not trained in lymph drainage take necessary precautions with the affected limb and use very light touch. This type of therapy promotes the immune function, which fights infections and helps the body heal faster.
It is quite common for the cancer patient to focus solely upon the body and its pain. They often use words like torture, cut, and burned to describe how their bodies are being treated. They feel as though they are only seen as their cancer. Oncology Massage can help change that because it brings a unique focus of nurturing attention to the body instead. It is wonderfully different from the typical, painful and invasive medical procedures of cancer treatment that they are used to receiving. It minimizes the side-effects, soothes and comforts. It helps the individual feel like being in his/her own body again. Many have said that it is the first time they have felt a positive procedure used in the healing strategy.
In addition to changing the focus of treatment to one of nurturing and healing, when a client chooses to receive an oncology massage, it gives them a sense of empowerment to take control of the direction of their healing process. This can be one of the most important decisions they make because what is done at this point may accelerate healing, prevent recurrence of the disease, and improve quality of life.
Each of us is unique. We live differently, get sick differently, and heal differently. If you have received a cancer diagnosis and choose Oncology Massage for yourself, you will be treated as the unique individual you are and with the respect you deserve. Your therapist can help you back to full integration of body and mind with the soothing touch of massage therapy that brings hope, empowerment, and comfort.
Oncology Massage Techniques:
- Light touch – Non invasive light touch modalities to enhance comfort, relaxation, etc.
- Relaxing Techniques of Hands, Feet and Face
- Cranio-sacral Therapy
- Lymphatic Drainage
- Scar Therapy
- Castor Oil Pack Therapy
- Mind-Body conneciton – unique opportunity to let down your armor and give yourself to another to care for you. You do not plan, schedule or fight. A chance to simply rest and recharge
- Visceral therapy – balancing the organ function
Those patients at risk of Lymphedema would be ones that the nodes have been removed from some area and the lymph system is compromised. A certified oncology massage therapist is trained in treating these areas and avoiding an onset of lymphedema. Because the lymph system has been compromised, the nodes no longer have the same capacity for transporting fluids through that area where the node has been removed. This can cause backup of fluid leading to swelling which may eventually become extreme or irreversible. Oncology massage integrates safe protocols that will address those issues when lymph nodes have been compromised. Massage given by someone who does not know or utilized these protocols can actually cause lymphedema and other serious problems. For this reason you should see only an expert or an experienced oncology massage therapist if you have any lymph nodes removed.
Oncology massage therapist works closely with your health team and your practitioners. A detailed intake will be completed including the kind of cancer you have, your current treatment and symptoms or side effects you are experiencing and any medical devices or lymph nodes involved. The therapy is done with very light pressure and limited duration. Most importantly you’ll be met with love and respect and recognition of who you are and what your own healing process is.
There’s not only the physical benefits from oncology massage but most importantly there is the psychological benefits. Massage brings a unique focus to the body of a cancer patient, one of nurturing attention. This is so different from the typical painful invasive medical procedures of cancer treatment. Cancer patients in treatment use words such as torture, cut, and burnt to describe how their bodies are being treated. They are seen only as their cancer or the cancer treatment. Their entire life turns out to be about irradiating the cancer. The medical treatments are anything but pleasant. This type of massage minimizes the side effects, sooths, comforts and helps individuals feel like being in their own bodies again. They say that it is the first time they have felt a positive procedure used in the healing strategy.
In addition to changing the focus of treatment to one of nurturing and healing, when a client chooses to receive an oncology massage it gives them a sense of empowerment to be able to take control of the direction of their healing process. This may be the most important time of your life. What you do now may affect the quality and health of the rest of your life. This is your time and you come first whether that is getting enough rest or saying no to too much stress or receiving a nurturing massage. This is the time to take care of you.