Many people today suffer the physical and mental
pain of cancer. While the person with cancer may have a condition
that warrants caution on the part of the therapist, seldom is
massage totally contraindicated.
Healing, according to Webster, "is to make
whole." Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer have
undertaken very personal healing paths in their lives.
Massage therapy brings greater body awareness and
assists in visualization and relaxation. Massage can and does
play a significant role in the healing process of persons living
Before cancer patients begin massage treatments,
they must discuss the goals and appropriateness to their cancer
treatments with their physician. The physician must give a written
prescription or approval to begin therapy if the cancer patient
is currently being treated with radiation, chemotherapy or is
scheduled for surgery.
Because cancer and cancer treatments may compromise
the function of the patient's immune system, it is advisable to
postpone the massage if the therapist is not feeling well.
Side effects of radiation therapy are usually limited
to the area being treated. The skin can change to varying degrees
of dryness or actual burns. Direct massage to these areas is contraindicated.
Alopecia, or hair loss, may be emotionally traumatic but most
cancer patients find massage to the scalp comforting.
Massage is contraindicated for two conditions: thrombocytopenia
and leukopenia. These conditions can produce potential bleeding
Post surgical massage may require special draping
of sheets or may begin with light work to remote areas like hands
and feet. Consult with your doctor about massage treatment, he/she
may be surprisingly supportive and give you the "go for it"