There are many physical, mental and emotional challenges that cancer patients have to undergo. Depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is, patients might have to get surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. At times, patients only have to undergo one treatment, but there are times when they might have to undergo a combination of them. These treatments also have a number of physical side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, pain, fatigue, infection, hair loss, swelling in the arms and legs and bowel problems.
Apart from the physical side effects of cancer, patients also have to deal with mental and emotional challenges. Even just waiting for test results or waiting for the treatment to begin can take a toll on the cancer patient and their family.
Additionally, there's the uncertainty of the outcome to deal with. Will the cancer go away permanently? Will it recur? Is it too advanced? The patient might feel numb, withdrawn, anxious and angry when they realize they have cancer. Their family members might also feel these emotions, to a lesser degree. Luckily, we are fortunate here in Jacksonville, Florida to have many world-class medical centers that specialize in cancer treatment, including Mayo Clinic, Baptist MD Anderson and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
Cancer and Massage Therapy
When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, they can opt for massage therapy as a form of self-care. Oncology massage can't help cure cancer, but it can help patients cope with the side effects of cancer and the treatment to fight the cancer.
Types of Massage Therapy Appropriate for Cancer Patients
There are different types of massage, so how do you choose the one that's right for you as a cancer patient? Here are some types of massage to consider:
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Lymphatic fluid flows throughout the body, in the lymphatic system. It contains white blood cells which attack bacteria in the blood. The fluid is taken by the body to the lymph nodes where it is cleansed and sent back into the body.
But there are times when lymph fluid might build up in the body, especially due to a cancer treatment in which the lymph nodes are removed. Lymphatic buildup occurs in 1 out of five patients with breast cancer.
Lymphatic drainage massage performed by a licensed therapist can help cancer patients who have lymphatic buildup. You'll know that your lymphatic drainage massage is working because your swelling will reduce and your circulation will improve.
This type of massage involves gentle rubbing and stroking on various parts of your body. It can give you a feeling of deep relaxation and wellbeing because it results in the release of endorphins i.e. "feel good" chemicals in the brain. It can also help to reduce swelling and inflammation, in addition to improving circulation and relieving soreness in your muscles. Plus, you'll find that relaxation massage helps you in dealing with stress. All of these benefits can help cancer patients deal with the physical and emotional challenges of cancer treatment.
Of course, acupuncture is different from massage, but it is another therapy to consider if you are undergoing cancer treatment. With acupuncture, needles are inserted at acupoints. The patient might feel some heaviness, numbness or a tingling sensation. Several studies show that acupuncture can help cancer patients with the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. A number of studies also show that acupuncture can help cancer patients with cancer pain, postoperative pain and muscle and joint pain. It can also help women receiving hormone therapy to deal with hot flashes. Other studies have shown the efficacy of acupuncture in dealing with fatigue, dry mouth, insomnia and anxiety.
What to Expect With Massage Therapy
As a cancer patient, you might have some reservations about undergoing Jacksonville, FL massage therapy. Given that you're probably in some degree of pain, you might be afraid that massage therapy is going to make that worse. But given that all the studies show an improvement in pain and better symptom management with massage therapy, it makes sense to give it a try.
Massage is generally a very pleasant experience, with aromatherapy and soothing music. You'll be lying down on a massage table with an opening for your face. In some cases, if you've just had surgery and you can't lie on your stomach, you can also receive massage by lying on your side or sitting up. Your therapist will work with you to personalize the experience and make sure you are very comfortable.
If you feel like you would prefer a gentler touch, you are free to tell the massage therapist to make the necessary adjustments. You should not feel pain during massage. Make sure you get up slowly after the massage so that you don't get lightheaded.
With so many studies showing the benefits of oncology massage, it makes sense to call your doctor and find out if massage therapy is right for you. Contact us to book an appointment in Jacksonville, Florida for a relaxation massage, a lymphatic drainage massage or acupuncture if you or a loved one is undergoing cancer treatment. We have a team of experienced and compassionate massage therapists and acupuncturists who are ready to help you feel better as you progress on your healing journey.
We are pleased to serve the following Florida communities with massage therapy, chiropractic, organic skincare, acupuncture, red light therapy and more: Jacksonville, Orange Park, Fleming Island, Mandarin, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St Johns, Ponte Vedra and more.
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