Oncology Massage ~ Helping you on your cancer journey

According to Cancer Research UK & NHS one in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.

Many people become concerned upon hearing the word ‘cancer’.  A cancer diagnosis commonly causes panic and distress leaving the patient feeling bewildered, alone, powerless and frightened.  

You might reflect on your life, you might consider your mortality; without doubt there will be both physical and mental challenges that will affect you and and also those closest to you.

During your treatment you are likely to spend considerable time in hospital and receive various drugs and chemicals; you might feel that you have no say in what is happening, that you are a patient and not an individual.

Our medical professionals do an amazing job facilitating your recovery however tests, treatment and surgery can be painful and distressing.  Oncology massage therapy is a form of touch that causes no pain and can bring you much comfort.

How Massage can help with Cancer

Historically massage was contra-indicated for cancer patients as it was naively believed it could spread the disease. Fortunately, this myth is now busted!  

Thanks to extensive research and studies by pioneers in the field of oncology massage, this belief is now known to be unfounded and massage therapists are welcomed and respected as an integral part of the oncology team.

What is Oncology Massage?

Oncology massage is a gentle, safe and mindful treatment for anyone who has been diagnosed with, or who has a history of cancer.  Using specialised techniques, each massage session is customised and tailored to meet your unique needs and the effects your cancer and cancer treatments may have on your body.

Oncology massage allows you to actively participate in your healing journey.  This unique and specialised massage therapy can have positive effects on your mind and body, providing you with comfort, relaxation, peace and serenity, allowing you to regain dignity and feel less like a patient and more like yourself.

Many cancer sufferers are not aware of how much they are holding in, how by ‘coping’ their emotions build up.  

Feeling safe and nurtured during your oncology massage can allow for an emotional release;  many clients find all their pent-up emotions are released as tears during their treatment; this is a perfectly normal and welcome reaction to your treatment.

What Happens at my Oncology Massage Session?

Your comfort is considered throughout your appointment and your treatment can be carried out fully clothed if this is your preference.  

I use nourishing, organic oils and, as well as specialised massage techniques, your appointment might include some breathing work, some ball work and home care advice.   

For those utilising the couch, I will ensure you are in the most comfortable position for you.  Whether that is lying supine, face down or side-lying, I work to ensure the massage is as relaxing and beneficial as

possible for you.  Treatments can also be carried out in a chair / wheelchair, your bed in hospital or at the hospice or in your home.

Occasionally a shorter session may be suggested depending upon your energy / fatigue levels and your immune system.

I have always worked with my hands and my heart and am now able to combine my passion with expert techniques, working therapeutically to give you a renewed sense of relaxation and well-being.

As previously mentioned, some clients find being in a safe, tranquil, nurturing space means they are truly able to let go and have an emotional-release; this is a perfectly normal reaction and invariably leaves the client feeling as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.

Benefits of Oncology Massage

Oncology massage therapists work with the cancer-sufferer’s mind, body, and spirit; providing treatments tailored to your personal needs and energy levels at every stage of your oncology treatment.  This non-invasive and compassionate therapy is suitable for patients undergoing treatment, to those in recovery to those survivors who have complete remission.  Oncology massage can be beneficial at all stages of your cancer experience, during diagnosis and prognosis, pre or post operation, during chemotherapy or radiation, during recovery, remission, cure or at the end stages of life.

Oncology massage can be carried out anywhere; the hospital, hospice, at your home, or at the therapist’s treatment room / clinic. It can be carried out on everyone, whether you are bed bound, in a wheelchair or fully mobile. 

The benefits of oncology massage are manyfold and research has shown that symptoms such as nausea, depression, fatigue and insomnia are greatly reduced for those who include massages as part of their cancer treatment. 

Stress, anxiety, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and other changes that are taking place in your body will all have an effect on you, putting your body’s central nervous system on high alert.  

How Massages can Alleviate Stress

Stress increases the amounts of cortisol and adrenaline in your body; this can cause your muscles to tense.  Massage works on the soft tissues, inducing relaxation and assisting with dispersal of your tension. 

Massage relaxes your central nervous system giving your body space and time and this relaxation of the CNS is believed to enhance your ability to heal and fight cancer.

Massage also stimulates your vagus nerve which is the main component of your parasympathetic nervous system.  This can help with your immune system, enhancing your mood and helping you destress. 

How Massages can Help with Insomnia

Sleep deprivation, whether due to anxiety or as a side-effect of treatment, can compromise your immune system.  Massage has been shown to boost serotonin levels which can help promote good sleep and positive feelings. 

How Effective is Oncology Massage for Pain Management and Symptoms of Cancer?

For those cancer patients experiencing pain, studies have shown that Oncology massage is more effective at reducing pain than other types of massage.

In fact, a study conducted in 2004 (Cassileth and Vickers), studied the outcome of massage therapy on 1290 patients over a three year period and found the following positive results on participants wellbeing: 

  • Pain improved by 47% 
  • Fatigue improved by 42% 
  • Anxiety improved by 59% 
  • Depression improved by 48% 
  • Nausea improved by 51% 
  • Other symptoms (such as shortness of breath, memory problems, dry mouth, disturbed sleep) improved by 48% 

My Oncology Massage Qualifications

Lorraine Smith Certified Oncology Massage Therapist

I was fortunate to be trained by renowned oncology massage specialist and tutor, Susan Findlay.  Her approach and training is believed to be the best in the country and I am proud to say that I am a Certified Oncology Massage Therapist.

The training gave great insight and education into the specific needs of oncology massage.  

The oncology massage treatment focuses on providing care, comfort, and compassionate touch to the client.  Each treatment is tailored to meet your unique and changing needs and takes into account the complexities of your condition and your symptoms.

Oncology massage does not treat the disease but aims to help you cope better with the physical and psychological side effects of cancer treatment, providing some well deserved me-time and a sense of normality. A space where you can be you. 

Oncology massage is not aggressive and I will work with you, your unique symptoms and your body to ensure you get the most from the treatment.  

What to look out for when Booking an Oncology Massage

If you decide to incorporate massage therapy as part of your cancer treatment, always ensure that you are seen by someone who is trained in oncology massage and who has the awareness and expertise to identify any contra-indications and who can adapt treatment to take into account your medical history, tumour sites and who understands the need to work around ports and medical devices.

You should talk to your oncologist or doctor before undergoing oncology massage to ensure it is right for you.

How to book an Oncology Massage with Lorraine

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information about oncology massage.  It is also possible to check availability for Lorraine’s Treatment Room by clicking here.

Cancer Cells

Reference links:

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-serotonin

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11315685/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8376746_Massage_therapy_for_symptom_control_Outcome_study_at_a_major_cancer_center

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