November 1, 2020
A cancer diagnosis is a hard pill to swallow, to say the least. The realization of how much your life will change, the fear of the unknown, and the well-known side effects of treatment are just a few of the thoughts that may cross your mind. While there may be a weight on your shoulder, I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing that massage therapy can help you cope with some of the symptoms of cancer as well as the side effects of the treatments. In fact, there are many cancer treatment centers that offer massage therapy as a complement to their treatment plans.
While there are numerous side effects to chemotherapy, some of the most well-known include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, neuropathy, pain, and of course hair loss. These side effects can make it difficult to achieve any normalcy in the day-to-day while going through treatment. While massage can’t help with the hair loss, it has been shown to help reduce pain, nausea, fatigue, and neuropathy. While it may not make them go away completely, the relief is noticeable for most cancer patients and the benefits are amazing.
Another benefit you may not have considered is stress relief. Getting the news that you have cancer is a blow no one ever wants to face. The stress that comes with that burden, the treatments, and life upheaval can often be overwhelming. Massage therapy is known for stress reduction. Of course, you get the muscle relaxation so many people think of with massage, but your brain actually receives a lot of benefits as well. You see, receiving massage naturally boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which help to regulate mood and emotions.
An often-overlooked side effect of cancer diagnosis and treatment is touch deprivation. Touch is such an important part of our lives, and when a person experiences little to no touch from other people, they can experience touch deprivation, which in and of itself can have a number of negative side effects including increased anxiety and depression, increased pain levels, and loss of motivation and optimism, just to name a few. Cancer patients often experience touch deprivation for many reasons. If you have a compromised immune system due to treatment, you may steer clear of others or isolate yourself from loved ones in order to stay healthy. You may be experiencing depression, and isolating yourself more than you normally would. Sometimes it’s the stigma around cancer patients and your vulnerability or fragility during that time. Whatever the case may be, massage therapy gives you the positive touch you need during treatment to help prevent touch deprivation and the side effects of it.
While the benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients are amazing, there are a few things that are important for you to know. It’s important to get an experienced massage therapist who is trained to work with cancer patients. Increased sanitization and safety measures are needed to ensure you’re not being put at risk when your immune system has been compromised by treatment. We’ll also consider the flexibility that may be needed with scheduling as it will vary depending on your treatment schedule and types of medications. The specific side effects and risks of each medication will be considered and your massage treatment plan adjusted accordingly as well. Finally, communication is of the utmost importance. With every appointment, communication about new medications, symptoms, or any issues you’re experiencing is important as well as telling us during the appointment about any pain or discomfort.
Cancer is difficult to deal with and the fight against it can be just as bad as the disease itself. Let us help make your battle a little easier and make you as comfortable as possible by including massage therapy in your treatment plan.