Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yes! Families can massage those with a cancer diagnosis!

How to Massage a Family Member with a Cancer Diagnosis

by Kathleen Lisson, CMT, CLT

I recently assisted at a Touch, Caring and Cancer presentation at the Moores Cancer Center in San Diego, CA. We shared techniques and tips with family members interested in giving relaxation and pain relief massages to their loved ones living with a cancer diagnosis. 

As an oncology-trained massage therapist in San Diego, I know first-hand the positive effects that gentle massage can have on patients going through chemotherapy and radiation.

In this introductory presentation, we shared safe methods of massage that an untrained family member can provide, including hand massage for cancer, face and scalp massage for cancer, foot massage for cancer and back massage for cancer. 

Arms and legs were not included because of the risk of blood clots in the legs and lymphedema in the arms. An oncology-trained massage therapist would be able to provide a full body massage. I had lymphatic drainage massage after my cancer surgery, that is a more advanced technique as well. 

We also shared bolstering techniques, providing tips on arranging pillows on the bed, a sofa, a chair and even at the kitchen table to make the loved one comfortable during the massage. 

A research study found that patients had a reduction in symptoms after family - administered massages. Patients included those with breast cancer, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, blood cancer, gynecological cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, melanoma, peritoneal cancer, testicular cancer and tongue cancer. Read about the study here: 

If you would like me to come to your home and teach your family members simple massage techniques that can help someone with a cancer diagnosis or similar illness, please contact me at  

A video showing techniques for 'Touch Therapy for Caregivers' from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is here:

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