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.

Chemo Care For Clients

Ask An Expert

Q: I have a client who just started chemotherapy. Are there special issues I should keep in mind when I treat her skin?

A: Absolutely. Dr. Christine Rodgers, a Denver cosmetic surgeon who works with cancer patients, says: “Women going through chemotherapy definitely have more sensitive, drier skin. Skin turnover is more rapid—that’s what chemotherapy does.” A lot of chemotherapy or drugs like tamoxifen (prescribed to help prevent breast-cancer recurrence) throw a woman into menopause, creating hormonal imbalances that also affect skin.

Green Tea’s Anti-Cancer Agent Revealed

News Note

A compound in green tea has been singled out by Spanish and British researchers for its ability to fight certain types of cancer. The active agent, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is found in high concentrations of green tea. EGCG has long been known as an anti-cancer beverage, but it wasn’t understood exactly why. Now, researchers have discovered that EGCG binds to and inhibits the proliferation of an enzyme called dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), which is found in both healthy and cancerous cells and appears to contribute to cancer cell growth.

Oncology: Cancer and Human Connection

The Making of an Oncology Massage Therapist

It’s a calling, a commitment, and a challenge, but it’s not for everyone. Massage for cancer clients has moved from the “no-touch” zone to center court, bringing with it an increasing number of compassionate, dedicated therapists. But there is a caveat to this trend. Although the bodywork profession, supported by scientific research, now provides a wealth of modalities to soothe, rehabilitate, and renew hope in those enduring the ravages of cancer, it’s not a matter of simply putting hands to skin.

Oncology: Bodywork for Cancer Patients

The Need for a Less-Demanding Approach

Once on a flight to San Francisco, I sat next to a woman who revealed she had received chemotherapy for cancer. The clinic where she had received treatment had a massage therapist who rubbed patients’ feet as they received their IV medications. My seat mate raved about how glorious it was. I asked if she could describe why the foot massage was so wonderful. It was difficult for her to put into words except to say, “It restored my confidence in the goodness of humankind.”

Coming Back from Cancer Treatment

Water Fitness Therapies

Starting to rebuild the body after cancer treatment is an arduous process. Aquatic therapist Mary Essert has developed an exercise program specifically for breast cancer patients and their physical and emotional needs. Below are three exercises from her water fitness program that has been helping cancer patients across the country for years.

Massage and the Cancer Patient

The Courage of Touch

Like most attorneys, Jo Anne Adlerstein is a fiend for the kind of research that can make or break a case. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 1998, she used her research skills to find out all she could about how to fight the disease that invaded her body.

Cancer Preventatives

Find Out What You Can Do

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates about 563,100 Americans will die of cancer and 1,221,800 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 1999.