Hands 4 Hope Project, Inc.

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


Benefits of Massage for Oncology Patients

Posted on June 22, 2016 at 10:20 AM

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!!

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