There is a building body of research suggesting that Massage Therapy can offer a number of benefits in supporting cancer care.
Things like reducing symptoms of pain, nausea, depression, anxiety and fatigue. It can improve mood, coping and can enhance quality of life. How? By increasing the happy hormone, serotonin, and our natural pain killer, dopamine, levels. At the same time, massage reduces our stress hormone, cortisol.
Depending on where you are in your stage of cancer, there are different options available. During an initial diagnosis, normal Swedish massage would be appropriate. Whether it is light touch or deep tissue is a personal preference.
A few weeks after surgery, light touch or possibly hand and/or foot massage would be welcome; which is similar for during chemo or radiation therapy where nausea, pain and fatigue are often present.
If you are in remission and having post surgical swelling issues, a treatment called lymphatic drainage is a great way to redistribute the fluid build up.
A secondary option that is receiving more study from Harvard Medical School, because of promising findings, is Reiki.
Reiki is an energy-based alternative health care treatment where pure healing energy is passed into the patient. It flows to the areas most needed, clearing blocks, chakras and meridians. Typical feelings after a Reiki treatment are lightness and a sense of well being. It’s wonderful to experience.
It is not uncommon for emotional issues to come to the surface during Reiki. Whether related to the cancer or not, these can be acknowledged, eased or allowed to remain private.
Reiki can be used at any stage of treatment. Because of its exceptional gentleness, it is a great option during radiation treatment or during any portion of the journey where the skin is too sensitive, or if massage seems too much.
Jennifer Presley has been an RMT for 11 years, taught massage for 4 years and has done Reiki since 1998.