By Eileen Strong Therapeutic Massage & Holistic Complementary Therapist
my first ever massage training course more than 20 years ago, and loved
I have learnt various massage techniques since that time and a range of other therapies too. It was a just 3 years ago that I decided to learn some new skills and undertake specialist training for the Hydrotherm Massage system to become an approved Hydrotherm therapist. I was drawn to Hydrotherm because their suite of massages included pregnancy massage and, the one that really caught my attention; massage for people on their cancer journey. Most of us have had our lives touched by cancer in some way, and I’m no exception. Being able to give back to those in need, when they need it most, is something I feel strongly about.
As many of you know, we have a wonderful range of different massages available for you to enjoy at Acorn. The Hydrotherm Massage system is a little different in that the client reclines on the treatment couch upon cushions filled with warm water for their entire massage. Since the person doesn’t have to roll over during their massage, it’s super relaxing and is especially ideal for anyone with mobility problems, or who finds it uncomfortable laying on their stomach.
You can take a look at the massage system here Hydrotherm Quick Peek.
Penny Brohn Cancer Care, the Tranquil Sea Hydrotherm massage takes this deeply
relaxing treatment a step further. The
training has allowed me to gain confidence and competence when working with
clients who are currently being treated for cancer, or have a history of
I was particularly drawn to learning the Tranquil Sea massage because back in 2008 at the massage training school, we were taught that on no account should we massage anyone with cancer. Historically, until very recent times, it has always been a grey area in the massage industr. This is largely due to a plethora of myths surrounding whether massage is safe whilst undergoing cancer treatment. There is also an additional rule, however, that if someone has a letter of permission from their GP, then they CAN have a massage. But if a therapist isn’t given specialist training about how to perform or adapt a massage for someone on their cancer journey, how can they possibly know whether it is safe or not. Confusing? Absolutely.
I was recently quite surprised to learn that there’s still around 70 per cent of spas in the UK that continue to operate an outright ban on offering their services to people who have previously had, or are in treatment for, cancer.
This issue really hit the media in January 2018 when Jo Mackie was refused a massage and manicure at Center Parks where she was celebrating her 50th birthday. Asked what she thought about being turned away by Centre Parcs, Ms Mackie told ITV London:
"Fundamentally, I think it's humiliating - you fight tooth and nail as a cancer patient to beat a disease which is potential life threatening only to be told you can’t do something as normal as have a massage..... It's ridiculous ."
Ms Mackie sued Center Parcs over her experience. The company said in a statement: "If a guest has a medical condition or had undergone a medical treatment we do ask for a letter from their GP, as therapists are not medically trained.”
The issue is, therefore, ensuring that therapists are adequately and expertly trained to be able to provide a safe and comfortable massage for anyone at any stage of their cancer journey. No one with cancer should ever get turned away from a treatment, I think you’d agree.
Scientific research is moving forward all the time and we now have a much deeper understanding about different types of cancer and how they spread within the body.
We also know that cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy effect not only the cancer cells, but also surrounding healthy cells too. This can compromise the strength and function of body systems, organs and tissue while the person is in recovery.
A typical example of this would be where lymph nodes have been surgically removed, or where radiotherapy has been directed to an area where lymph nodes proliferate. If the lymph system becomes compromised, a massage carried out by an untrained therapist could potentially overload the system and contribute in the longer term to other complications such as Lymphodema ( why lymph fluid cannot flow freely and backs up, causing pain and swelling)
This is just one example of why a massage might need to be adapted, and why a massage therapist should have the knowledge and skill to know what to do.
Massage is good for you!
In treating the person holistically as a whole, the Amethyst Trust in conjunction with Penny Brohn Cancer Care says that in their experience, regular massage can:
· Lead to improved physical and emotional confidence
· Help people express emotions and deal with anger
· Reduce isolation and reduce fear
· Reduce nausea
· Restore a sense of balance and wellbeing
· Provide a sense of calm
· Reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort
· Improve sleep
· Help people to feel special
We know that hospices and treatment units have been providing massage and other relaxational therapies to patients for a many years, because they know how beneficial it is.
As one previous cancer patient explained, “ I just needed to shut down and have time for me away from everything, I just wanted to feel human again; it is important that therapists don’t treat a cancer sufferer with fear, but learn how to treat us safely; adapting treatments and treating us as “normal”. It made my life just that little bit easier in a time when I felt my life had changed forever.”
So the reality is that massage is perfectly safe if adaptations are made and there has never been any scientific evidence behind the contention that massage can spread cancer.
Both at Acorn Natural Health Centre and my own practice at home in Milford, I’m delighted to be able to provide a confident and competent massage therapy for anyone on their cancer journey, without the need for a signed GP referral.
In addition to being a certified Hydrotherm Tranquil Sea therapist, I’ve also undertaken intensive 3 day training in Cancer Touch Therapy. The two treatments compliment each other beautifully, and can both be considered wonderful spa style treatments in their own right, suitable for everyone, whatever their health challenges may be, including people on their cancer journey.
Clients who have these treatments give wonderful feedback. It isn't just the treatment itself, but also the one to one care, the supportive touch, and complete time out all really help.
If you would like more information about the massage therapies and other services I provide, then please get in touch to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
SPECIAL OFFER on 90 MIN TRANQUIL SEA TREATMENTS - you can click on the link to book and enter the redeem code: TRANQUILSEA90 or get in touch to find out more and book. Offer expires on 1st June 2019.
Contact: 01773 687349 or 07745409059.