American Cancer Society

Cancer, Radiation, and Massage

Cancer patient looking out a window and smiling

Martha had just completed many months of treatment for breast cancer and was on a cruise to relax after the arduous experience. What she was most looking forward to after boarding the ship was receiving a massage. For weeks beforehand she had anticipated it. But when the time finally came, Martha was turned away. The massage therapist had been taught never to massage clients with cancer. Unfortunately the therapist didn’t know that a cancer diagnosis is no longer an automatic contraindication for massage.

Into the Looking Glass

Massage for Mastectomy Patients

Kate was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in her left breast. A modified radical mastectomy was performed and the breast was gone forever. It was several weeks later when the emotional shock set in. She thought, “Oh, God, what did they do to me? Where is my breast? In the hospital trash? Is it in a jar of embalming fluid? What did it look like? Was it in pieces or chunks? Couldn’t I have taken it home and buried it?” She felt the need for closure with her loss. She wanted a mourning process with her breast.1

Water Fitness for Breast Cancer Survivors

Embraced by Water

There is a quality of peace and calm when you duck your head under the still, early-morning waters of an empty swimming pool. A cocoon develops naturally around you, with the light and sound of the outside world finding only distorted reality in this quiet place. The sound of your heartbeat, the introspection that occurs and the warmth and safety of the water all lend themselves to a surreal sense of being.