Cancer Massage

Cancer Massage, often called Oncology Massage, is performed in such a way to meet the specific needs of individuals currently dealing with cancer, cancer treatments, complications from cancer, those in remission or completely healed from cancer.  Oncology Massage Therapists are well informed and have a strong understanding of the disease itself and the many ways it may affect a human body, mind, and spirit.  Here at LymphWorks, we have therapists uniquely trained in Lymph Drainage Therapy, Therapeutic Massage & scar techniques, and Energy Healing to support those undergoing cancer therapy, about to embark on the treatment journey, or those fully recovered and seeking maintenance care.

How is Cancer Massage Different?

Sessions are most often modified by:

  • Session Length
  • Type of therapy
  • Depth of touch pressure
  • Client Positioning on the table

To meet the unique needs of each client to make them both manageable for the client and also to compliment other treatments they client is currently receiving, we strive to make the massage safe and supportive to the cancer patient by using touch intended to help you reconnect with your body in a kind and healing way.

The heart of the session is intended to enhance healing by “doing no harm” to clients whose body may be dealing with one or more of the following:

  • Stressed from radiation or chemotherapy therapy
  • Recovering from surgery
  • At risk for developing Lymphedema (LyE)
  • Lowered immune function
  • Swelling or edema
  • Ports, drains, expanders, implants, and other temporary or permanent devices

At the same time, the cancer massage is intended to lesson symptoms and enhance recovery time from things such as:

  • Toxicity
  • Chemo Brain / Brain Fog 
  • Swelling and inflammation 
  • Digestive issues
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances 
  • Fatigue, malaise, and exhaustion
  • Pain 
  • Scar tissue restrictions
  • Reduced range of motion 
  • Anxiety, depression, emotional overwhelm, stress
  • Compromised organ function and system vitality
  • Low blood counts
  • Lymph Node removal or involvement

Cancer Massage Techniques vary and are adapted to the unique needs of each client

Cancer Techniques may include Energy Healing

Healing Techniques for Cancer

 Techniques which are most commonly used to support a cancer massage session at LymphWorks office are:

Here at LymphWorks we are very familiar with many forms of cancer and the specific needs that arise when conducting a healing session.  Whether you are dealing with Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, or others. We may suggest the best timing for your treatments and modify the modalities used to accommodate your changing state of cancer treatment, recovery and healing.  Some studies of massage for cancer patients suggest that it can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue. Here at LymphWorks, we know that it can do much more than that! 

Other Considerations for Cancer Massage

Based on our professional experience we often take into consideration these things:

  • Radiation: During and after radiation you will experience tissue shrinkage and range of motion limitations that can continue to worsen for up to a year afterward.  This may ultimately change your posture and create pain patterns in your body.  We use Myofascial Release techniques and Scar techniques to address and often prevent these issues. 
  • Lymph Node Biopsy, Dissection or Removal: If you have had lymphatic system involvement, your risk for Lymphedema increases.  We utilize Lymph Drainage Therapy techniques, including manual lymphatic mapping to identify and support the healthy movement patterns of you lymph.  We will educate you on LyE prevention, signs and symptoms, and notify you when we feel you may need additional care or diagnosis. The lymphatic system health is also a great indicator of infection or recurrence.  Our Lymph Drainage Therapists will be another pair of eyes and hands for you in ensuring continued healing.
  • Scars: Post surgical or radiation scars are expected and common.  When the scars mature, we use Myofascial Release techniques, scar massage, and Lymphatic techniques to realign this tissue and allow for improved movement and appearance!
  • Swelling: Post-surgical swelling, full body inflammation after chemotherapy, changes to hormones, possible infections, or low immunity can lead to swelling.  Lymph Drainage Therapy is the technique most used for this symptom.
  • Surgery: Whether it’s just a biopsy, tumor removal, reconstruction, mastectomy, or more, we utilize many techniques to address your post-surgical experiences.
  • Nausea: Chemo may cause vomiting or general malaise and nausea usually within the first 3 days of treatment.  Therapy can and will be adjusted to ensure this symptom is not worsened.  Lymph Drainage Therapy and gentle massage techniques can help lessen the duration or the experience of nausea.  It may be suggested that you receive Lymph Drainage therapy 3 days before chemotherapy to ready the body and lessen the symptoms afterward.
  • Fatigue or Low Energy Level: You may be tired and unable to maintain your normal activity level.  Rest is critical to the restoration and recovery of your tissues.  Your level and tolerance to massage may vary from day to day because of this.  Therefore, the duration of your cancer massage session can be adjusted so that energies levels are supported and not inhibited.
  • Emotional pain, anxiety, depression: We create a non-judgmental, supportive, and deeply relaxing environment where the release of emotional fears and baggage may occur. The time spend in our massage room is often considered a reprieve to many burdens cancer patients experience in their daily lives. Instead of being poked and prodded, you are nurtured and cared for. Many patients tell us of increased feelings of well-being, being pleasantly distracted, improved body self-image and restored hope.  Then there is the satisfaction of actively participating in a part of the healing process and having control over a part of your healing process.  Consider Energy Healing techniques for a deeper connection to Self or to receive clarity of meaning around your healing journey.
  • Organ Vitality and Function: Post Chemotherapy Lymph Drainage Therapy and Visceral Manipulation may be used to cleanse, detoxify and mobilized your organs and improve the organ circulation and functionality. Particular attention may be paid to the Liver, Kidneys, small intestine and large intestines.  Constipation is often lessened or eliminated for several days to several weeks after cancer massage.  Digestion may also improve. 
  • Chemotherapy: Although chemo is more customized than ever before and is targeted toward fast growing cells, it also affects normal cells, tissues and organs.  Side effects of chemo vary greatly and some may linger.  Consider avoiding cancer massage techniques 3 days prior to chemo and begin cancer massage techniques 3 days or more after “expected” worst day.  Lymph Drainage Therapy is one of the more useful techniques for the toxicity and symptoms associated with Chemotherapy drug treatments.
  • Anesthesia and Pain medications: Just like chemotherapy, lymph drainage therapy, energy healing and massage techniques can aid in faster metabolism of these drugs out of your body systems so that healing can occur.
  • Reduced Immune Function: Lymph Drainage Therapy may be utilized to stimulate the immune system health and functionality and increase immune cell circulation within the body.  This may make it more likely for unhealthy cells to be identified and removed from your body!
  • Compromised blood cell counts:  Patients with low blood platelet counts or who are taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin) may be susceptible to easy bruising and should ask their doctor whether massage is safe for them.  Massage pressure will be adapted and lightened when platelets are low or the risk of blood clots is high and we can always adapt the therapy (lymph drainage or energy healing instead of massage).  Additionally, here at LymphWorks, we do our best to maintain a clean and sterile environment but suggest the client wear face mask if they are at risk for infections or illness.  We are willing and able to wear non-latex gloves and masks ourselves to create a safer environment.   We encourage slow/gradual transitions on and off the table due to the symptoms that altered blood cell counts may cause.  Finally, recommendations to support blood circulation will be offered as will referrals to qualified nutritional practitioners who can support the “rebuilding of your blood” in a natural way if the client is interested.
  • Ports, Lines, Drainage Tubes, expanders, implants, catheters, and other medical devices:  We will avoid disturbing these items and position the client for comfort.  There may be a time when you are unable to lie down on your front and we have pillows and bolsters available to make you as comfortable as possible in a chair, if needed, on your back and/or on your side.
  • Bone Integrity: Many cancer treatments include the administration of estrogen reducing drugs or drugs that may reduce the density of bones.  Adjustments to pressure and types of massage may be made for this very reason. 
  • Skin Changes:  Chemo and radiation may cause rashes, inflammation, open wounds, burns.  Sometimes skin becomes thin, fragile, or unstable. We will take the appropriate precautions with pressure, friction and lubricants and avoid contact with wounds.  Therapists may also wear non-latex gloves when appropriate.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Cancer patients can experience numbness, tingling, burning in hands and or feet which can subside after treatment or last indefinitely.  Changes in sensation in certain areas of your body is very common.  Sometimes nerve regrowth can cause zinging, pain or tingling or burning too.  Our qualified therapists will adapt your therapy as needed to address these concerns.
  • Brain Fog / Chemo Brain: Cognitive problems are common during and after cancer treatment.  Many clients indicate our therapies bring increased alertness and mental clarity along with other detoxification benefits.  We will send automated appointment reminders to prompt you to remember upcoming appointments.  Additionally, clear and simple communication and hand-outs will also be shared with you so that you can review material discussed when you return home. 
  • Pain:  Many of our therapies are known to reduce pain and spasms due to the stimulation of your own body’s parasympathetic response during your session. 
  • Mouth Sores (Mucositis): On rare occasion this symptom of chemo may limit a cancer patient’s ability to lay on the face rest.  Positions on the massage table will be altered as needed.
  • Active cancer treatment, recently into recovery, or at end of life:  We will adapt your cancer massage therapy based on the stage of your treatment or recovery.  Certain massage modifications will remain crucial even decades after cancer treatment is complete such as those to prevent Lymphedema.  Improved quality of life or support during a client’s final stages is a priority. 
  • Tumor site or metastasis:  Therapy may be adapted based on where the cancer may be in your body.  "In the past, therapists thought massage would increase circulation and therefore cause cancer to spread.  The process of metastasis is very complicated and poorly understood; however increased circulation is not considered a significant part of that process by itself." (MD Anderson Cancer Center)  In other words, massage and lymphatic work DO NOT spread cancer.  But we ask clients to be sure to have their cancer under medical control and supervision when they begin their journey with us.
  • Medications (short and long term): We keep a list of common cancer medications, their uses, risks, and side effects on hand in our office to assist our therapists and clients in identifying if the symptom they are experiencing may be related to their current medication or may be something that should be discussed with their doctor.
  • Inability to travel:  We offer remote energy healing sessions for those who are unable to make it to our offices. 

Is Cancer Massage Right for Me?

If you are wondering if cancer massage is right for you, the general answer is probably yes.  If you cancer is currently under medical control (you are being treated by a Physician or Naturopath), a well trained LymphWorks therapist can provide safe and effective cancer massage or cancer healing therapies for just about any person at any stage of their cancer journey.  Relying on this treatment alone and delaying or avoiding conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences. We strongly recommend that you come with a note, referral or prescription from your treating physician.  Many health care professionals recognize massage as a useful, noninvasive addition to standard medical treatment. 

Massage therapy is practiced in many different ways by therapists with many different levels of training, so please share this website or a brochure with your Physician to let them know that LymphWorks therapists are well versed in creating and adjusting customized, complementary, and appropriate care for Cancer patients.  We encourage the physician to be included in the cancer massage care plan if or when needed. 

Please contact us directly if you have questions about how and if this complementary therapy can support you in your cancer journey.

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