The power of touch has a special resonance with me. My first experience was when I had a biopsy done for breast cancer. I was in the prone position so I could not see the person. The biopsy was done on my left breast and was painful. The person assisting the physician was a nurse and she put her hand on mine and was present. I could feel her presence with her hand. This made a difference because I felt reassured and not alone. I felt a sense of compassion. This made the experience more bearable.
Oncology massage is based on compassion. Oncology massage is a lighter, softer touch than regular massage, and designed to relax the nervous system. During cancer treatment our bodies sometimes forget the feeling of being relaxed. Massage is a way in which clients can visit themselves, to acknowledge where they are and what they are feeling. The benefits of oncology massage done correctly are relaxation, better sleep, reduced anxiety and pain, and less fatigue and nausea.
Cara Thurman, an oncology massage therapist, said, “Patients may be stressed and anxious even if they don’t know it. So we work to relax the central nervous system so that the body has both space and time to heal to fight cancer. We also work on fingers and toes to help nerve endings relax and decrease both pain and tingling.”
Physical benefits of Oncology Massage:
- Better sleep
- Fewer headaches
- Less chemotherapy-related nausea
- Less chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathic numbness
- Less chronic pain from cancer itself or the treatment
- Less stress and anxiety
- Better ability to tolerate cancer treatment’s side effects
Emotional and spiritual benefits of Oncology Massage:
- Validating clients
- Being present in the moment
- Witnessing the patient’s release of emotions in a safe environment
Oncology massage is a private journey made with the client and is never the same from client to client.
It is a privilege for me to be present.
Agnes Hale LMT is a certified massage therapist with special training in oncology massage. Through massage, she helps the client realize where they are physically and how emotions can affect the mind and the body. She gently guides the client to acknowledge oneself in mind/body and spirit as integral to the relaxation and healing process of massage.