Cancer and Massage
For Patients and Professionals
Issue #5 - Sep, 2005
"A good massage is the touch equivalent of a hearing beautiful
music. There are touch equivalents for
multiple instruments, solo and in orchestra; for rhythm and harmony, notes
and chords, ebb and flow, point and counterpoint. "
Questions and Answers
Q: Because of surgery [or chemotherapy, radiation, an
appliance or an implant] I am not comfortable in certain positions, I am
afraid of being touched in certain places and my doctor has advised me to avoid certain
things. Can I still have massage?
A: Absolutely. Therapists with
oncology training routinely adapt their equipment and their massage techniques to address
all of these cancer treatment concerns and more. In fact, patients with these
concerns are often the most highly stressed and thus benefit the most.
Q: "I try to stay awake so I don't
miss anything. Of all the massage therapists I've seen, you are the only one who
consistently zones me out. How is that?"
A: Our nervous systems have two parts, the sympathetic and
the parasympathetic. The sympathetic revs us up to meet life's challenges. The
parasympathetic slows us down for rest and recovery. Every massage technique
stimulates the two systems differently.
Treating people who are sorely stressed by life and by illness calls for the use of
techniques that are predominately calming and restorative. Occassionally a more
active technique is added for variety. Interestingly, the addition of a few active
techniques produces deeper relaxation than can be reached without them.
Finally, an amazing aspect of massage is that the benefits are the
same, awake or asleep. Go ahead and drift off if you are so inclined. At the
end of the massage, I will let you come back in your own way, at your own pace.
Surgery, Radiation and Rosehip Oil
Regular scar massage can dramatically improve the texture of surgical scars.
The use of Rosehip oil can improve their color as well. Rosehip oil also
speeds normalization of radiation skin reactions. For more information go to www.mettamassagetherapy/reprints/rosehip_oil.pdf.
Living Well After Prostate Cancer
On September 13 the Southern Maine Prostate Cancer Support Group and the Cancer
Community Center offered a truly outstanding evening of information, resources, support
and refreshments for patients and their loved ones. This is definitely a program
Goddess-in-the-Pines, Saturday, October 1, 2005. A
wonderful day for for women who are dealing with cancer to renew body, mind
and spirit. It is offered this year by the BKD Fitness Center to benefit the Cancer
Community Center. Go to http://www.bkdfitness.com/goddess.htm
for complete information or call Lisa Magiera at 207-627-7170.
Cure Breast Cancer for ME Luncheon, Thursday, Oct 6, 2005,
11:45 - 2:00, Holiday Inn by the Bay. This annual event raises funds in Maine
for breast cancer research in Maine. For tickets call the Maine Cancer Foundation at
207-773-2533 or go to www.mainecancer.org.
MMC Breast Care Center Open House, Wed, Oct 12, 2005
4:00 - 6:30 This year's theme, "For You, For Life", will highlight screening,
early detection, treatment and education about the top four women's cancers: breast, lung,
colorectal and gyn-malignancies. Call the Breast Care Center for more
information. 207-885-7760, ext2
Cancer Connections Conference, Thursday, November 3,
The always informative, helpful and inspiring Cancer Connections Conference will be held
again at the Sheraton Tara Hotel on Maine Mall Rd. in S. Portland, Maine. The
program is being developed. Look for details at http://www.cancerconnectionsmaine.org/
or call 800-315-0143.
The Perfect Gift
Massage is the gift that keeps on giving. Amazingly, the benefits of this 75
minute mini-vacation persists for days or weeks. Call 207-831-8067 to order a gift
certificate for a friend, a loved one, or even yourself.
Cancer Massage Is Affordable
Massage can make a profound difference in quality of life for anyone dealing
with cancer - no one should be deprived of the benefits. To that end, my
regular rate of $60 for 75 minutes on the table is $45 for cancer patients, their
caregivers, and family members. For patients currently in treatment the rate is
$35. Please pay less if this strains your budget. Thank you for paying
more if you are moved to support this work. I only ask that you pay in proportion to
the benefits you receive and to your resoiurces.
Bruce A. Hopkins, LMT
Afterword: From the Cancer Massage Library
"In addition to the physical
benefits, massage helps patients deal with emotional issues that are a part of their
illness process. Many patients are unable to work or are limited in their activities,
often leading to depression, fear, anger, stress, boredom, envy, grief, loneliness and
lowered self esteem. Massage is a one on one therapy - the patient is the focus of the
treatment. The sole purpose of the treatment is to make the patient feel better, to
reconnect him with himself. The benefits of this caring, supportive, non-threatening touch
include relief of apprehension and anxiety and creation of a sense of overall well-being.
Massage helps patients increase their activity levels and become more productive, thereby
boosting self esteem and self confidence. Finally, massage reduces the physical symptoms
of stress, including muscle tension and headache, putting the patient at ease."
Adapted from Fonkalsrud and Hameluck, Massage
Therapy and the Haemodialysis Patient, http://www.wellingtoncollege.com/theses4.html, 1997
, accessed 2005.
"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
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