Every day there are beauty therapists, massage therapists, nurses, naturopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists and other health care professionals providing massage to people through hospitals, aged care facilities, clinics, day spas, and home based practices all over Australia.
So what is the the difference between massage and Oncology Massage? Firstly Oncology massage is not a skeletal muscle massage like a remedial, Swedish, deep tissue or any of the terms you might hear. It is a deep fascial massage that promotes the relaxation response.
Wait you say doesn't massage spread cancer cells? The short answer is no. Our lymphatic system is a complex system of the body and an integral component of our immune system. It is stimulated by movement, exercise and yes even by massage. While it is true that cancer cells can enter the lymphatics- movement and exercise have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the incidence of cancer and cancer recurrence. The spread of cancer cells or metastases is the result of a complex biological process not the mechanical movement of cells around the body from one region to another.
So our first rule is "do no harm". We do not put the body under any excess stress, redness or pain. As the body of a cancer patients is already experiencing enough trauma. Instead we nurture, calm and relax the body.
All massage has the power, when skillfully applied to reduce pain, anxiety and literally change our biochemistry - that sea of chemicals, neurotransmitters and hormones that constantly bathes our cells, change when we experience deep relaxation. Light touch Oncology Massage does all of that and more, it is a mindful, focused, full contact massage that touches the client profoundly. Common feedback from clients is that it is quite simply exquisite, blissful, deeply relaxing and extremely healing. By using appropriate pressure the client will feel touched but not challenged with unwanted side-effects such as increased fatigue, bruising or increased pain.
Scar management- scar tissue forms in injured areas of our bodies and replaces cells that have been destroyed. It appears either inside the body or on its surface and is a normal part of the body's healing process whenever there is a significant injury. Scar tissue acts as a barrier and protects the place that was injured, but unfortunately lacks the functionality of the original tissue and has low elasticity. Inside the body scar tissue in the form of adhesion or fibrosis may cause other problems. After any major surgery there can be deep adhesion forming at the site and can cause functional problems to a limb (mastectomy), so Oncology massage can be performed to release constrictions and adhesions. Obviously during the initial stages of wound recovery, you will want to be sure your massage therapist is fully trained and uses a gentle approach.
Hippocrates is quoted as saying "Cure sometimes, treat often and comfort always". This principle is embraced in Oncology Massage as there are times when all we can offer is comfort, our complete presence and the knowledge that it is enough.