Our Massage Services > Oncology Massage
What is Oncology Massage?
Oncology massage is bodywork that meets the specific needs of persons experiencing cancer, its treatments, or those who are already cancer survivors. It is designed to enhance healing but do no harm to persons who have weakened immune systems, who may be at risk of lymphedema, or whose bodies are stressed by radiation, chemotherapy, and the aftereffects of surgery.
Oncology massage can actually assist you and your body restore your body and spirit to health by incorporating both Western and Eastern bodywork methods. Acupressure, based in traditional Chinese medicine, along with reflexology and Swedish massage techniques, are incorporated to gently address the special concerns for anyone who has been touched by cancer. All these techniques are gentle. They are designed to respect the limits of bodies that are already over-stressed by the disease process and the effects of treatment.
Special consideration is required for anyone who may be at risk of developing lymphedema. This includes anyone who has had lymph glands biopsied, radiated or removed, from the neck, armpit, or groin. When the lymph glands are compromised, the lymph system cannot flow freely through that area. This can lead to a back-up of the lymph fluid, much in the way a garden hose gets backed up. It’s easy to release a garden hose; not so easy to free up the flow of lymph. No matter how long it’s been since the initial lymph node procedure, the cancer survivor is at risk for lymphedema. Only a therapist trained in oncology massage can safely administer bodywork in this case.
In the past, there was some concern that massage therapy might increase the risk of metastasis or spreading from one to another par of the body. It is now widely known that this does not occur. In fact, major cancer treatment centers throughout the country, including Sloan-Kettering in New York and UCLA hospitals in California, now include massage as part of their treatment programs. In some of these locations, oncology massage therapists administer massage to clients during their chemotherapy sessions.
Psychology and Spirit
Cancer patients use words like “cut, burned, poked” to describe the way their bodies are treated during the course of treatment. They frequently feel like they’re seen only as their cancers, or their cancer treatments. The medical treatment can be very difficult and dehumanizing. Patients even feel that their bodies have betrayed them in some way. Massage can help people remember that their bodies can feel good, and bring pleasure. They learn that a healing touch does not have to be uncomfortable or painful. They take an active role in their own healing. Even the sickest person finds that massage can bring about a few good days.
Intake is more complete and detailed than the health clearance forms clients normally complete. Oncology massage patients should plan to spend extra time completing these forms.