Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The Value of Massage Therapy

By: StacyAtZeel

.October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, turning our undivided attention to this incredibly important cause. Did you know that oncology massage therapy is offered in many hospital and clinical environments?

As physical and emotional strain accompany breast cancer treatment, gentle massage therapy, delivered by a well-trained practitioner, can offer significant relief. Licensed massage therapist and Zeel Expert Jacqueline George-Algaier should know. With special training through the Peregrine Institute in Santa Fe, N.M., she explains how, for individuals living with breast cancer, massage can be a viable option for relaxation by addressing anxiety, pain, nausea and more.

Here's what you need to know.

  • Massage for people receiving radiation or chemotherapy requires a therapist who has the knowledge and ability to assess the appropriateness of the level of pressure, contraindications, medication and therapy side effects through a thorough medical assessment.

  • Therapists should be trained in how to massage clients at risk for lymphedema (often a side effect of surgical node dissection or radiation to nodes in a given area).

  • Oncology massage therapists must be mindful of positioning near medical appliances such as a port, IV, catheter or ostomy bags.

Jacqueline adds that employing a massage therapist with extensive knowledge and education in oncology massage can add to a patient's confidence and comfort. These therapists have often completed hands-on training in the treatment of patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, in addition to coursework on pertinent topics.

With the right massage therapist, Jacqueline continues, bodywork can offer a sense of relief that may otherwise be difficult to find. "Massage is a wonderful respite from cancer treatments, invasive procedures and the side effects of medicine," she says. "Clients often remark that massage gives them the opportunity to be pain-free, worry-free and experience rest for the first time in many days, weeks or months."