Cancer is both a physical and emotional journey for anyone living with the disease. While the physical symptoms of the disease can be treated through medicine, the emotional impact leave patients feeling overwhelmed and defeated. If left untreated, this can negatively affect patient health and quality of life.
According to the American Cancer Society, massage therapy can be a good medicine for the emotional stresses of cancer. Massage therapy uses various techniques to enhance body functions and promote relaxation. Therapeutic massage offers temporary relief from physical pain and emotional stress by increasing the production of endorphins, “feel good” chemicals in the body.
Massage Benefits for Cancer Patients
Medical massage can be extremely beneficial for cancer patients. This type of massage involves therapists with more medical training, and the therapy sessions are focused and specific. According to the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine in upstate New York, medical massage gives cancer patients many benefits.
Massage therapy can help patients emotionally by promoting relaxation; reducing stress, anxiety and depression; creating body awareness; and encouraging a positive outlook. Massage also offers relief from treatment side effects such as pain, nausea, insomnia and headaches. Massage therapy can reduce tissue swelling, increases flexibility and often reduces a patient’s need for medication.
Massage in Complementary Care
As a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practice, massage therapy cannot cure someone of cancer. It can, however, alleviate some of the pain and stress associated with the disease. Patients who desire a holistic approach to cancer treatment should discuss massage therapy with their doctor. Therapeutic massage, lymphatic drainage, Reiki and other alternative practices can be a good complement to conventional treatments.
From breast cancer and skin tumors to leukemia and mesothelioma, each cancer experience is unique. What works for one patient in the form of treatment or therapy may not work for another. Doctors and cancer care teams work closely with patients to develop the best treatment programs possible.
Relying on massage therapy alone to treat cancer can cause serious health consequences for cancer patients. However, integrating massage with chemotherapy and other conventional medical care can have lasting benefits through treatment and beyond.
Consult your doctor and find a massage therapy that will be beneficial to you and your treatment and give your mind, body and spirit a vacation from some of life’s everyday stressors!