Oncology Massage is a very light and relaxing massage specifically tailored for people with cancer. It can be given at varying stages of your diagnosis including during chemotherapy, after radiation, pre and post-surgery, for those recovering from treatment or in remission and anyone at risk of lymphoedema. It is a safe form of massage that allows people to feel whole again and more positive about their body. Tumour or treatment sites will not be massaged to avoid discomfort or too much pressure on the affected area and underlying organs.
WHAT MAKES ONCOLOGY MASSAGE DIFFERENT TO REGULAR MASSAGE?
The massage will be tailored specifically for you:
- A detailed health history will be completed including the type of cancer you have (or had), your treatment (past, present, future), medical devices, lymph node involvement, medications, treating specialist
- Pressure will be modified to a very light, relaxing pressure and the length of time of the massage will be reduced while we find your “new normal”
- Positioning will be modified to accommodate surgical sites, radiation sites, medical devices and your comfort
- This massage is deeply relaxing and nurturing and will restore your sense of wellbeing
- It may consist of several different modalities including bone marrow support, lymphatic drainage and massage depending on your needs at the time of your booking. (If only Bone Marrow Support is required – the client remains fully clothed. It is a sequence of hand movements that improves and supports bone marrow production).
LETTING YOUR MEDICAL TEAM KNOW YOU ARE RECEIVING MASSAGE
It is important for people who have cancer to let their medical care provider know they are receiving massage. Family members and other caregivers can be instructed in certain massage techniques and are encouraged to book their own little piece of “me time” as well. Several types of massage are available.
I’ve heard that massage can spread cancer
Massage DOES NOT cause cancer to spread.
Cancer may spread (metastasise) into the lymphatic system via the lymph nodes, or it may start in the lymphatic system itself. However, the circulation of lymph – from massage or other movement – does not cause cancer to spread. Researchers have shown that cancer develops and spreads because of changes to a cell’s DNA (genetic mutations) and other processes in the body.
What if I am at risk of lymphoedema
As part of your oncology massage, we will assess you regarding your risk factors for lymphoedema and offer education on where you are at.
Another benefit of massage is reducing lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid accompanied by low-level chronic inflammation and reactive fibrosis. In short, it is swelling in the tissues caused by a build-up of fluid after surgery or radiotherapy to the lymph nodes. Once you develop lymphoedema, it never goes away but it can be reduced and managed. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is done as part of Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which is used to help in the reduction of lymphoedema after certain cancer surgeries. CDT also includes bandaging, compression garments, special exercises, skin care and activity modification. This treatment is usually done by lymphoedema specialists rather than general-practice massage therapists.
Can I bring someone with me?
Of course, you can. Your carer may wish to know what they can do to help relieve your symptoms and offer you comfort in between your visits to us. We will gladly go over some simple techniques that can be implemented at home.
I am in the middle of treatment and have a medical device
As long as you are up to leaving your home and have the all-clear from your medical team, you are not precluded from specialised massage. We are trained to work safely around your medical devices and surgical sites. You will be positioned on the massage table in a safe and comfortable way to allow you to reap the benefits of a nurturing massage.
Please tell us though where you are in your treatment regimen and what medications / infusions you are receiving so we, as the therapist, can safely massage you.
Key Benefits of Oncology Massage
Scientific studies have been done to show the effects of various body-based practices on people having cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery. These studies have shown that massage may:
Reduce fatigue, pain and anxiety, nausea and vomiting
Increase energy and appetite
Strengthen the immune system – stimulation of the immune system by increasing blood flow and improving circulation and increasing mobility
Aid in the repair of scar tissue
Provides a distraction
Gives some relief from constipation
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