The following is a guest post from Melanie Bowen,
an Awareness Advocate from the Cancer Alliance
Massage therapy is used in a variety of clinical settings for alleviating stress and relieving pain. For people who have been diagnosed with cancers like breast cancer or mesothelioma, massage therapy can significantly improve their quality of life and their overall outlook.
Cancer treatment is difficult. Chemotherapy is hard on the body, and the physical symptoms of the cancer itself often cause pain and fatigue. One of the biggest challenges that many cancer patients must overcome is the mental challenge. They may feel like they are fighting a losing battle, and, according to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 25 percent of all cancer patients also must fight depression.
Massage therapy is a good way for cancer patients to regain some control over their lives and their bodies. While massage therapy will not treat or cure the cancer, it does help to control the symptoms and can boost the medical treatments that the patient is receiving.
One of the biggest boons that massage can provide is helping to reduce tension and stress in cancer patients. Stress causes people to tense up, and unrelieved stress can also cause a person’s blood pressure to rise and their heart rate to increase. When tension in the muscles is released, blood pressure and heart rate can decrease, allowing the person to relax fully and feel more at peace.
Massage can help relieve pain in a few different ways; primarily by affecting the way the pain is perceived by the patient. One study found that massage helped decrease patients’ perceptions of pain by an average of about 60 percent. Massage stimulates the release of endorphins, which can provide a natural high and act as a natural pain reliever. By decreasing the tension in the muscles and throughout the body, aches and pains in the bones and muscles are also warded off.
Lymphatic System Stimulation
The lymphatic system is one of the key players in a cancer patient’s cancer-fighting arsenal. A specially trained massage therapist can provide a massage that will stimulate the lymphatic system, boosting the patient’s immune system, so that he or she can more effectively fight off the cancer.
Touch and Acceptance
Many cancer patients struggle greatly with their self-image. If they have lost their hair or a breast or have other physical symptoms such as scarring from surgeries, they may feel detached from their bodies or other people. Massage therapy provides a source of human touch and comfort that can help relieve stress and improve self-esteem.
Is Massage Right for You?
Before beginning a massage therapy program, speak with your clinical team. Massage therapy may not be appropriate for all types of cancers, so make sure you have your doctor’s approval. Your provider may also be able to give you a referral to a massage therapist who has experience working with cancer patients and who knows which specific methods and treatments will be the most effective. Only see licensed massage practitioners for massage therapy to avoid injury to your sensitive tissues.
Author: Melanie Bowen
Melanie joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. She also assists in social media outreach in her efforts to spread awareness.
*Always consult a trusted medical advisor before engaging in any alternative therapy or medical care that may impact your medical treatments.