For someone in any stage of cancer treatment, oncology massage delivers tremendous benefits.
There is a critical component. You must find a trained oncology massage therapist who is knowledgeable about the specific precautions and protocols. This enables him or her to work safely with cancer patients.
What Is Oncology Massage?
Oncology massage is a specialized form of massage that does not interfere with the treatment of the patient. It can only safely be delivered by a specially trained oncology massage therapist who understands:
- the necessary pressure adjustments to make,
- the possible side effects of the patients’ treatment,
- the site restrictions (for those patients undergoing radiation therapy),
- the specific protocols that can be used for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy,
- how to work with cancer patients where they lie,
- the specific protocols to provoke deep relaxation without touching the skin of the patient (an oncology massage therapist can work through all of the clothing, bed linens, etc.),
- when a short session is best for the patient, and
- when it is appropriate to use or avoid lotion due to changes in skin sensitivity or site restrictions.
What Are the Benefits of Oncology Massage?
There are numerous benefits of an oncology massage to the cancer patient in any stage of their treatment.
It is a general goal of massage to relax the client. That being said, a cancer patient’s emotional and physical need for relaxation is heightened tremendously by their struggle with the disease. Knowing they are in the trained and specialized hands of a trained oncology massage therapist can deepen their capacity to relax. That relaxation leads to other benefits:
Perception of Pain
The relaxation can help shift patients’ perception of the intensity of their pain.
Patients can often experience a deeper, more restorative sleep after experiencing such deep relaxation. Restorative sleep is critical to the body when it’s receiving cancer treatment of any kind.
Aide in Dealing with Treatment
No matter where a cancer patient is in their journey, a massage can offer a small and true respite.
Escape From Isolation
It is common for cancer patients to feel isolated in their circumstances, separated from the loved ones providing emotional support to them. An oncology massage therapist can deliver gentle “knowledgeable touch.” The therapist comforts the patient in a different way because of his or her understanding of the physical conditions of the patient.
If you or someone you know is in the treatment process (active or post-), consider making an appointment for an oncology massage. A doctor’s note is not necessary to receive an one; however, it is important that the patient let the therapist know about any current or past cancer treatments so s/he can take the specific precautions that will make the massage safe, enjoyable and deeply relaxing, both physically and mentally.
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