WOMEN LIVING WITH BREAST CANCER all too often experience feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety and worry which can be alleviated and/or assisted through the medium of touch. All humans are essentially physical creatures; we need to be touched and to feel tenderness and kindness. Women with Breast Cancer are also under high amounts of stress, worry and strain, and certainly, massage can help ease this type of stress.

Reduced stress levels have been shown to be beneficial for the immune system, so massage therapy, when performed, can actually be extremely beneficial for a woman living with Breast Cancer, strengthening her body for the fight against the cancer.

The important thing is to find the correct therapist for you. It’s very important that you feel comfortable with your therapist, that you can freely chat and discuss your feelings (both physically and emotionally) and feel at ease.  The primary concern with massaging cancer patients is that a poorly performed massage by a therapist without the necessary experience could actually hurt the patient.  Because of surgery and/or various therapies, some patients experience increased sensitivity and fragile skin.  So, how do you find a therapist that’s right for you?

First and foremost, as with any type of illness, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor first before making an appointment for massage. Many doctors today work directly with massage therapists or health professionals who offer different types of therapies including massage, so they may have a recommendation, and doctors may want to be in contact with the therapist about the specific case before approving massage and/or the therapist.  Be sure to ask your therapist questions, such as their qualifications, the type of illnesses they deal with and how many years they are practicing.

Massage, specifically for women living with Breast Cancer, will be tailored to the individual client, so no two clients will receive the same massage. A good therapist will take notes after every session and you shouldn’t be alarmed by this. Several things may be different from a massage you might receive in a health spa, for example –

  • A detailed account will be completed, including the kind of cancer you have (or had), all treatment history, any current treatment you’re on, all symptoms and side-effects you are experiencing, and any surgery or lymph node involvement you might have.
  • Pressure may be lighter than a regular massage.
  • A lot of the massage time may be spent on the feet (some use reflexology), the spine (some use hot stone therapy and/or acupressure points) and the head (head massage) with the rest of the body receiving a lighter massage.
  • Depending on your own needs, the position you lie in might be modified to accommodate any surgery, radiation sites or sensitive skin.

So many women out there miss out on the wonderful feeling of a massage and the health benefits that follow because any number of reason. Breast Cancer shouldn’t be one of them.  Please consult your health care provider before receiving massage during cancer treatment