Massage and Bodywork

When You Hear “That” Word

Oncology Massasge Can Help

By July 13, 2016 March 26th, 2021 No Comments

It’s not just what cancer means inside your body. The treatments for cancer are often difficult, disruptive, even grueling. The process can be chaotic and more than a little terrifying.
You don’t have to go through it alone.
There is a special branch of massage therapy called oncology massage. It helps you endure the reality of living with cancer and cancer treatments and living your life as a cancer survivor.
Oncology massage is less of a special technique and more of a knowledge of and appreciation for the complexities, both physical and emotional, of dealing with cancer. Someone practicing oncology massage will use every technique and modality they’ve ever learned when necessary. Everything from Swedish to lymph drainage to scar release.
What does a massage therapists trained in oncology massage understand and do?
Cancer treatments can be a complicated regimen of drugs, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy. The oncology-trained massage therapist understands the medical process and has a deep understanding of how the body responds differently to massage while undergoing treatments. This includes knowing when massage is not a good choice, when it is contraindicated.
Your body-on-cancer isn’t the same as everyone else’s body. Treatments bring up some unique bodily challenges – infusion ports, radiation sites, or neuropathy, for example. Oncology massage training teaches a massage therapist to deal with these new realities, to know when to work around something and when to avoid it completely.
Treatment can also be a long story. When were you diagnosed? What were your symptoms? What, specifically, were you diagnosed with? What treatments have you tried? What’s currently working and what isn’t? What side effects are you experiencing? What medications are you on and how long have you been on them? It would be great if you didn’t have to tell and re-tell that story to every new person but sometimes you do. A well-trained therapist knows when to ask questions, understands the answers, and knows when to just listen.
Given all this, it also helps that oncology massage training teaches massage therapists how to interact with medical professionals. The massage therapists and the doctors and nurses can have productive conversations that keeps your health and well-being on track.
Most of all, you need someone who honors your body as it is. Someone who doesn’t look at you as a collection of test results or as a medical condition. Someone who sees the person living with cancer in their body. That’s what massage therapy is all about at the end of the day, seeing the person in the body and bringing some comfort and ease to that person in that body.
Massage is a proven tool for reducing stress, taking pain down a notch, and bringing comfort to anxious nervous systems. If you’re living with cancer, let an oncology-trained massage therapist be your comforting companion on that journey. If you want to be that comforting and well-trained companion, register for the Healwell Oncology Massage 101 course in August here at the Teal Center.

Kelly Bowers

Author Kelly Bowers

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