Oncology Massage: Supporting Cancer Patients



Massage is actually a healthcare intervention.  When we apply massage and use massage with the person things are happening in their body, to their body and also on a sort of spiritual, interpersonal level.



What we do with oncology massage I think is really two-fold.  How do we adjust massage so that it doesn’t cause harm?  But I think when we get down to oncology massage in that safety aspect it’s really about how much more can we do and how much more specifically of service can we be to people who have been affected by cancer.

Okay you have these limitations because you’ve had radiation or you’ve had lymph nodes removed or surgery, or you’re going through chemotherapy.  Maybe you’re sitting in the infusion chair and you’re receiving some massage therapy.  What can I do as a massage therapist to sort of just sneak into what’s already happening with your body in a way that your body almost doesn’t know that I’m there.  That I’m just there as a sort of sneaky support that I’m offering.

I sort of envision the body as jumping double dutch rope if you’ve ever seen that happen where you have the two ropes, and the person who’s going to jump is waiting for the hole in the ropes.  And you jump in and you jump a couple of times and you jump back out and the ropes keep going.  And that’s sort of what I think of when I’m doing oncology massage is I connect with that person in a way that helps me understand like where is your nervous system, where are your muscles, where’s your mind, where is all the vibration in your body and how can I work with you in a way that I’m not asking anything more of your body?

And then the other piece is that presence piece that I think even massage therapists sort of forget about.  And there’s so many different types of massage therapy training out there and there are short programs and long programs and programs that focus on mechanics and then programs that focus  less on mechanics and more on presence.  And when we do oncology massage it’s this beautiful marriage of understanding the mechanics and the pathophysiology of disease and treatment and adding to it this piece that isn’t coming from helping but is coming more from service.  Is coming more from where are you today and how can I be as close to that place as possible so that I’m not asking anything new of you?

Lauren Cates

8 thoughts on “Oncology Massage: Supporting Cancer Patients

  1. Kathleen Michie

    Wonderful video explaining the art & science of oncology massage also including the essence of not intending to fix or help but to serve. Thank you Lauren

  2. Kathleen Michie

    Wonderful video explaining the art & science of oncology massage also including the essence of not intending to fix or help but to serve. Thank you Lauren

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