Massage: Caring Touch for Cancer Patients and Survivors

With increasing public awareness about massage, many people are learning of the numerous positive effects regular massage therapy can have on one’s life. Did you know there can also be significant benefits for those who are undergoing cancer treatment and in the process of recovery? As a 5-year cancer survivor, combined with my experience as a professional massage therapist, this is my perspective on what massage can do for cancer patients and survivors.

Increased Quality of Life – Having cancer is arguably one of the most difficult things a person can go through in life. During my battle, I was often stressed, upset, or had anxiety about the myriad challenges I was facing. A 2014 study of patients who received Swedish massage three times weekly found, “found all participants experienced stress reduction, increased comfort and relaxation…” Their symptoms of fatigue and nausea were also helped. Those two symptoms alone may not sound like much, but from experience I can tell you that nausea and fatigue can be an unrelenting struggle in the battle against cancer.

Decreased Physical & Emotional Pain – The shock of diagnosis, combined with the reality of the difficulty of treatment, along with worry about family and the future can do a lot to bring one’s spirits down. There are also many negative physical side effects from treatment that a patient must deal with. Even after treatment is complete, the battle can continue as a survivor comes to terms with what happened in their lives and how it will impact their future. Massage has been shown to lift a person’s spirits as well has help decrease the magnitude of physical side effects like pain.

An article from Prevention Magazine that details a study regarding positive effects of massage on cancer patients mentions this quote: “Compared with standard drug therapies for these symptoms, massage was as effective, cheaper, less invasive, and more comforting, not to mention free of side effects.” As a cancer survivor, I implore those who are bravely battling cancer, as well as fellow survivors, to explore massage therapy as an option in their plan for recovery. It is important to talk with your doctor first and obtain their written permission before receiving massage. Also, with a medical doctor’s prescription, manual therapy for the purpose of cancer symptom management may be covered by your insurance. I sincerely hope that if you are battling cancer or are a survivor that you will be encouraged to try massage therapy and enjoy its wonderful benefits in your life.

by: Kate Frazer

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