Hands 4 Hope Project, Inc.

Compassionate Touch through Massage Therapy for Those Living with a Cancer Diagnosis


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Benefits of Massage for Oncology Patients

Posted on June 22, 2016 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (2)

Anyone who has enjoyed receiving a massage, knows that it just feels good.  It is a time when your body and mind just stop and tesion and stress are allowed to dissipate through the hands of the therapist.

When you are living with a cancer diagnosis, massage therapy can be life changing and can play a very integral part in the healing journey.  Unfortunately, many times patients cannot afford it because of the astronomical costs of medical treatment.

Massage therapy, given by therapists trained in oncology massage, can help reduce stress and anxiety related to this disease.  Can you even imagine how it might feel just to be told you have cancer, much less having to go through surgeries, chemo and possibly radiation?  The stress and anxiety have to be though the roof!  Then there are effects resulting from the treatments!

Massage can help with so much.  Sometimes when someone is going through treatment, they don't or can't sleep well.  Think about how many times you fell into a deep sleep on the massage table!  For the cancer patient, that rest could make all the difference.  There are several drugs used for chemotherapy that can cause chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).  This can go from annoying to very painful.  There is massage for this and one of the best things is that it can be done by the patient or caregiver at home so the results continue!

Many times when someone has surgery, lymph nodes may be removed or irradiated.  Once this happens, the patient is at risk for the rest of their lives of developing lymphedema.  The trained oncology therapist will know to work with that quadrant of the body in a very specific manner.  Should the patient, for whatever reason, develop lymphedema, a referral to a Manual Lymph Drainage therapist would be appropriate.

When a cancer patient has surgery (or multiple surgeries) and/or radiation, the result can be lots of scar tissue, either from incisions or burn scars.  Sometimes these scars, depending on how they heal, can form adhesions with underlying tissues which, in turn, can limit range of motion (especially for certain surgeries for breast cancer) and can be painful.  Radiation burn scars can be painful as well.  A therapist trained to work with these issues can help the scar tissue to soften and become more pliable.  If the work can start early enough, the work could possibly prevent the formation of adhesions.  If the patient can reach these areas, this is also the type of manipulations they can do on themselves, as well.

I recently heard it said that once someone has been diagnosed with cancer and undergone treatment, every headache becomes a brain tumor, referring to the fear and anxiety of recurrence.  This is another time when the caring and compassionate touch of massage therapy can really help bring that anxiety level down.  Another time massage therapy can be of tremendous assistance is as palliative care at the end of life (this could be for any reason, not just for a cancer patient).

So, as you can see, massage therapy can benefit the cancer patient in so many ways but to reap the most benefits, they should receive massage regularly.  Receiving a massage once is nice but the results are, many times, cumulative.  For these reasons, Hands 4 Hope Project needs your help so we can help them!  Your support is greatly appreciated!!

Inspiration for a Mission

Posted on May 15, 2016 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

For the past three years, I have volunteered with Beyond Boobs!, a local breast cancer support group.  They are a group of courageous, beautiful women who support each other in every way possible.  They inspire each other to live first and foremost, take care of themselves and their health, and have fun!  Life is precious and we need to make the most of it, for as long as we can!

Every year, Beyond Boobs! holds a weekend retreat in Sandbridge, VA for members of the group who can attend.  There are support groups in VA, NC, SC, and FL, so there are more women attending every year!  Every year we do a spa day, where the women can have a massage, reflexology or facial; all sessions are 30 minutes.  We have to have a number of therapists to ensure everyone who wants a service receives one.

In 2015 I massaged a woman who was very sweet, soft-spoken and so very appreciative of the attention.  She had a smile that was absolutely engaging and litlup her face.  In that brief 30 minutes, this woman made a great impact on me.  She showed me what it was to be strong and gracious, even though your body is under attack.  She was going to live everyday and enjoy life!

I recently learned that this inspiring woman passed away on May 8, 2016 (Mother's Day).  Even though I didn't know her personally, she had touched my life and inadvertently helped me decide to pursue the establishment of this nonprofit.  She is part of the inspiration and motivation of my desire to bring massage to this population.  Massage can do so much good; maybe it can also bring some joy and happiness!

Here's to you, Lucy!  May your travels and sojourns through the stars be as brilliant as the shining light you were here on Earth!

The HeART of Giving

Posted on May 2, 2016 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

In November, 2013, I decided to take an oncology massage class.  Little did I know at that time that that class would play such a huge role in the direction of my life.  In that class, I met a few women from a local breast cancer support group (Beyond Boobs) and I knew I wanted to be connected with them in the future.  I am not sure why I felt so drawn to  them:  it could have been because both my mother and aunt were breast cancer survivors, it could have been because I am a woman and felt drawwn to the "sisterhood" of the members.  Who knows?  All I know is this was one of the most vibrant groups of women I had ever been involved with and I loved them immediately!

After the class was finished, I found myself in possession of one of their calendars.  They call it "A Calendar To Live By!" and it is full of wonderful informationn for living a healthy life.  I saw they had a retreat annually so I emailed to see if they ever offered massage at these retreats.  Boom! That started it all!  I quickly gathered a group of my massage therapist friends and we volunteered at that retreat; the energy was so incredibly high!  As is usually the case the first time anything is done, scheduling was off, we were all running around not entirely sure of who was next and things got crazy!  But, massage therapists are excellent at rolling with the flow and we got though it.  All I know is that it was an extremely long day but I left on a high that lasted for days!

I have volunteered at this retreat every year since then.  Saturday, April 30, 2016, made my third year and I fully intend to continue volunteering annually at this event.   Women come from Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and here in Virginia to attend.  They are so very grateful for the bodywork and the relaxation and stress relief is so easy to read on their faces!  This is at the very heart of giving and there is nothing that feels better than giving, heart to heart, to another human being.  We are all in this together and when we can give to others, willingly and unselfishly, we have the opportunity to make the entire life experience a little sweeter for all concerned.

Find your passion and give back to your community!  n that way, you can find the heART of goving, too!  We are here on this earth for only a short time.  Let's step up to the plate and really make a diffrence! #givingback