Not too long ago, massage for the cancer patient was contraindicated: It was believed that massage would help "spread" cancer throughout the body. Studies have since shown this is not true. The physical benefits reaped from massage are the same as for everyone else.
Studies have shown some of the other benefits of massage for the cancer patient. These would include:
- Easing of nausea associated with treatment
- Contributes to feelings of well-being and a better quality of life
- Ease anxiety and depression patients often feel as a result of the illness and treatment
- Relief of generalized pain, muscle tension and fatigue
- Boosts the immune system
- Improved sleep
Cancer treatment is grueling. Whether inpatient or outpatient, the "giving over" of your life to doctor appointments, tests and treatments is taxing. Being able to receive massage with all its benefits can give the cancer patient the chance to reconnect with their bodies and focus on healing.
I have the ability to discuss this topic from both perspectives. As a massage therapist I have been taught how healing touch can be. Being able to provide that is one of the many reasons I studied massage therapy.
As a cancer patient, I know how much massage therapy helped me to regain connection to my spiritual self. In the process of treatment and all it involves, I felt as if I had lost the connection of physical to spiritual self. It was as if my body belonged to cancer and its treatment. That changed after I received massage while in treatment. After receiving three or four massages, I felt my body "breathe" a sigh of relief. It was the most relaxed and at peace I had felt in weeks. I was given back that connection. Talk about good medicine. I received massage regularly while in for treatment and it made a difficult time in life a little more tolerable.
I think it goes without saying that the benefits of healing touch, which we as therapists provide, are sometimes greater than we can wrap our heads around. Whether for the cancer patient or the care giver, massage therapy should play a part in the healing of the whole person. It is very good medicine.