Cancer and Massage
For Patients and Professionals
Issue #2 - December, 2004
soothes the body, easing mind and spirit.
Mind and spirit, in turn, remind the body of its
God-given power to self-heal.
Cancer Massage at a Leading Cancer
The September issue of the Journal
of Pain and Symptom Management recounts a three year research project at the
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Nearly 1300 cancer
patients were asked to rate their pain, fatigue, stress/anxiety, nausea, depression and
other symptoms on separate 0-10 scales.
After massage they rated their
symptoms again. The average score dropped by about 50%. Patients with extreme
symptoms and patients with mild symptoms experienced similar improvements.
Outpatients improved slightly more than inpatients and the measured benefits for
outpatients did not decline over a 2 day followup period.
CPS is a little recognized but very real secondary side effect of surgery, chemo or
radiation. You feel so bad that you camp out on the couch and develop significant
additional symptoms from simple lack of activity. These can include additional pain (often
in new places), stiffness, fatigue, anxiety and digestive disturbances. Massage is
helpful in addressing these secondary symptoms.
On the Lighter Side
Mark Twain cautioned, "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a
How is Cancer Massage Different?
For each area massaged, the therapist is trained to adapt your position, the type of touch
and the pressure to your specific conditions. There is a wide range of effective,
pleasant, relaxing techniques the therapist can chose from. (Even if you have had
massage before, you probably won't notice the changes.) If you are interested in the
medical nitty-gritty, go to mettamassagetherapy.com/medical.htm.
Your doctor may also find this information interesting and helpful.
When a surgeon cannot cut along natural body planes and boundaries, the resulting scars
tend to stick dissimilar structures together. These scars can cause a variety of
problems, including pain, reduced range of motion and obstruction of circulation and
drainage. Some scars are also prone to puckering and pulling which makes them esthetically
less pleasing. Scar massage can offer clients significant improvement. It is
very satisfying work for both client and massage therapist because, although the results
come slowly, they can be very pronounced.
Maine Cancer Connections Conference
The November 19th Conference was wonderful. Things ran so smoothly it was easy to forget
how much work goes into making this happen (be like a duck....calm and serene on top
and paddle like crazy underneath). Eighteen complementary therapy participants
signed up for the newsletter and the lucky winner of a free 75 minute massage was notified
by e-mail that evening.
The Perfect Gift
Massage is the perfect gift. It is always the right style and color and is
perfectly tailored to the recipient's body. Call for a gift certificate for a loved
one, a caregiver or a friend. Or - drop a hint that you would like the gift of
Massage should be available to anyone who is dealing with the stresses of cancer. To
help make that possible, Metta Massage Therapy offers financial assistance beyond the
already affordable rates. (The regular rate for 75 minutes on the table is $35 for
patients during treatment and $45 for patients out of treatment, caregivers and family
members.) Call Bruce at 831-8067 for more information.
May you awaken to the light of your own true nature,
Bruce A. Hopkins, LMT
Afterword: From the Cancer Massage Library
"Aside from the general benefits...., I discovered that there are four very clear
benefits from me having weekly massages," Adlerstein said. "I took them for
granted, but as I visited each of the different medical doctors for return visits and they
made comments about these areas, I realized that they were kind of in the dark about what
massage could do."
For Adlerstein, the four areas were a minimization in the formation of scar tissue, help
in preventing lymphedema (a painful swelling of the limbs common in breast cancer
patients), improved range of motion, and the survival of her skin during radiation
therapy..... "I had one doctor saying 'Your scar looks great,' another one saying,
'Your lymph looks great,' another saying, 'Your skin is great.' Meanwhile, nobody quite
focuses on why it's so great."
Quoted by Kieran McConnellogue in "Massage and the Cancer Patient", Massage
& Bodywork Magazine, December/January 2000.
"May you be at
peace. May your heart remain open.
May you awaken to the light of your own true nature.
May you be healed. May you be a source of healing to all beings."
The Metta of the Buddha
Subscription requests, cancellations,
suggestions and comments:
Learn more about cancer massage and about Bruce: