The pains of cancer go far beyond that of the cancer itself. In a disease where the symptoms of the treatment can wreak more havoc on your body than the actual illness, cancer patients look for ways to ease the cycle of pain. When we asked massage therapists across the country what they love most about their job, many of them said that helping improve the lives of cancer patients topped their lists.

“Oncology patients are usually stressed even before the treatment happens and most Chemo drugs have many side effects like nausea and fatigue. Using chair and/or bed-side massage before/during the time when treatments are being administered, continually assists the patient to relax. Most are even able to then restfully sleep.” –Melissa Fell, Essenza Day Spa in Ambler, PA

While cancer affects everybody differently, there are things that can be done to improve a person’s overall quality of life. Massage can be an effective complementary therapy and many health care professionals recognize massage as a useful, noninvasive addition to standard medical treatment. Massage can help with physical pain, and more importantly, the malaise cancer has on the mind.

Massage alleviates pain and even if this is only temporary, it is still worth the provisional escape. Even a little relief may prove substantial for cancer sufferers’ often exhausted bodies. A few breaths without pain, or moments of not thinking about the future, will offer a chance to do nothing but relax.

“Catherine Doughty, a wonderful client of mine, wrote a book called, ‘Breast Cancer! You’re Kidding…right?’ explaining her battle through cancer. In one of the chapters, she emphasizes how massage therapy helped her feel relaxed and worry free. It felt great knowing that I was given the opportunity to heal others when it was truly needed, and to me that is one of the most rewarding and satisfying moments that an individual could acquire.” –Berta Pollard, Norris of Houston in Houston, TX

In battles like cancer, spirit can prove just as important as medicine for healing. Studies of massage for cancer patients suggest massage can decrease stress, anxiety and depression.

“Specifically for my clients with cancer, I combine massage with Reflexology, Reiki and Craniosacral therapies for the ultimate in wellness and relaxation. Through this complimentary treatment, I have been able to witness firsthand the amazing power of massage. After some nurturing, they leave feeling re-energized, they walk a little bit taller and they have this overall sense of positivity that everything will be okay. This is why I practice massage.” –Marisol Fitzgerald, Namaste Organic Spa in Ridgewood, NJ

While massage will not cure cancer, it may help give someone fighting a little extra strength and positivity to go on. It’s possible that the simple power of human touch may also help in its own unexplainable way.

It is important for someone with cancer to check with their doctors before adding massage to their treatment. Patients with low blood platelet counts (a common side effect of chemotherapy) may be susceptible to easy bruising and should ask their doctor whether massage is safe for them. It is also suggested to let your massage therapist know any concerns you may have before a massage is performed.