Cancer, the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, is a bane of humankind. The adverse effects of this malaise are not limited to the destruction of a patient’s body – the will and the spirit are also ravaged. Although myriad modern medical marvels have helped tackle this disease, its after-effects are rather long-lasting. Surgery, radiation, hormonal medication and chemotherapy – these constitute an oncologist’s arsenal.
But, there is another factor which doesn’t immediately come to mind – Palliative Care. Palliative care resides in improving the life of a cancer victim, imbibing in him/her the will to live again. A patient’s treatment cannot be over the moment he/she walks out of the hospital – his/her physique may be hale, but his/her psyche needs to be hearty too. Among the various courses of auxiliary care, massage therapy is highly recommended by oncologists.
Benefits of massage therapy:
Pain, insomnia, and anxiety are some of the lasting after-effects and these affect both survivors and those currently undergoing treatment. Nausea and fatigue are also reported in some cases. Massage therapies go a long way in alleviating the distress faced by patients battling cancer. The healing hands of a certified massage therapist help the patients ward off the feelings of despair and lower their anxiety. Their stress levels get reduced, uneasiness from the chemotherapy is alleviated and they get filled with a new resolve to fight off the malady. Certain types of massages even help in diagnosis, like Carotid sinus massage for supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT).
Different practitioners recommend several variations of massage therapies. Swedish therapy, soft tissue release, neuromuscular massage, Shiatsu, and aromatherapy are quite popular- both for rehabilitation and relaxation. Oriental practices like Acupressure and Ayurveda have also gained an excellent reputation all over the world. Swedish (classical) massage has proved to be particularly effective in ameliorating the body by reducing pain, stress and even arthritis. Its combination of five ‘strokes’ – tap, knead, glide, friction, and shake range from soft to vigorous. Medical massaging also includes Decongestive Therapy, which is used for lymphedema. Used in parallel with the proper medical treatment for breast cancer, this massage regimen has been shown to be quite beneficial to patients. Lymphatic drainage is another massaging process which is believed to help in strengthening the immune system and helping the body detoxify. It stimulates the lymphatic system by means of soft, light massage to a certain rhythm and drains the buildup of fluid.
There were concerns expressed in the past that massaging cancer patients would lead to metastasis (spread of the cancer to different body parts). But fortunately, these have been proved false. Although doctors do recommend that tumor sites be avoided during the massage, they encourage massaging to help patients with scarring and adhesions. Only certified massage therapists should be consulted for post-cancer treatment, because every patient’s needs are different and should be attended to carefully. Proper precautions must be taken to take care of bruised tissues and sensitive nodes. Only precise skill and trained communication can help a person receive the optimum benefit of the various massage therapies.