Oncology Massage: A Touch Therapy for People Living with Cancer

For centuries, the power of touch has been known to have amazing healing qualities for people, both psychologically and physiologically. It’s benefits are truly endless, from reducing aches, pains, soreness and stiffness to improving a person’s overall ability to relax, feel calm, less stressed and bring about a balance to one’s mind AND body! One of my first blogs explains this more in depth ==> The Power Of Touch

Any body that knows me, knows how much I adore massage and how much I enjoy helping people with it’s magic. I am always trying to learn more about the body and I’m dedicated to continuing my professional development within the massage industry by training in new techniques.

I have recently completed an intensive 3 day course with Christine Clinton (Christine Clinton Cancer Care), an Irish woman, now living in the US, who has dedicated much of her life to researching and helping people with Cancer. She trained in arguably the most pre-eminent cancer research hospital in the world, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Sloan-Kettering Cancer Care), in New York. She trains qualified body therapists, like myself, in Touch Therapy for people living with Cancer or who has had Cancer. She is an amazing woman and the knowledge she has on the subject is simply astounding. I was privileged to get the opportunity to be trained by Christine Clinton and I simply cannot wait to get started in helping people who absolutely need it the most.


The course she teaches is recognized by the Marie Keating Foundation here in Ireland, which is just fantastic, as it shows people are becoming more and aware of the magic of massage. The Irish Cancer Society now recognizes the need for Complementary Therapies for those living with Cancer. Complementary Therapies, are therapies such as massage, reflexology, Indian head massage, acupuncture etc etc. On their website you can read what they have to say on the subject here ==> Irish Cancer Society: Cancer and complementary therapies These therapies work in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. They are perfectly safe and they really help the person feel better, sleep better, move better and so much more.They can be received at any time during or after treatment, once the person feels comfortable.


More and more people are becoming interested in complementary therapies, and the last fifteen years has seen numerous studies done to evaluate oncology massage. Today, oncologists are encouraging cancer patients to engage in wellness activities, such as massage, meditation and relaxation.Survivors of cancer are living with the short term and long term effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation. Aftercare for some cancer survivors is very minimal and some aren’t even aware of the things they may experience, such as lymphedema, severe skin reactions, tingling hands and feet, heavy legs and feet, changes to their taste etc etc. Touch therapies can help massively with these and help the person’s sense of over all well being dramatically improve.


During the course, we worked on a lady who had kidney cancer 5 years ago, the doctors removed the kidney and so, removed the cancer. What the doctors didn’t tell her, however, was that they also removed lymph nodes, which often has to happen. But they never explained to her the effects of this or what to watch out for etc etc. There was zero aftercare. The lady, in question, had at least 5 liters of fluid around her tummy and she had no idea that she could get rid of it or how massage could help with it or ways she could reduce it through diet etc. This is 5 years later. She had cancer 5 years ago but she is still suffering with a severe case of lymphedema, all because she was never given any after care. The average person wouldn’t know what lymph nodes are anyway, but the doctors should have explained and they didn’t.

Lymph nodes are part of our lymphatic system, which works side by side with our circulatory system, in helping our bodies to dispel waste. Lymph nodes, essentially, are our collection points in our bodies for waste. When you remove one of these, it puts our system out of balance and can cause many complications, including lymphedema, which is fluid retention that causes swelling in our bodies. Aftercare is so so vital for cancer survivors and massage can help in the most amazing of ways.


I won’t get into the scary statistics of cancer but everyone knows at least one person affected by this deadly disease and, unfortunately it’s on the increase.

Getting enough sleep is so so important, because this is when your body repairs itself, so try get at least 8 hours of unbroken sleep a night. Diet, is equally important and ensuring you aren’t consuming a lot of sugar. Sugar makes our bodes acidic, and cancer cells thrive in acidic conditions, so its important to eat plenty of alkaline foods, such as, apples, bananas, berries, almonds, grapes, peppers, onions, spinach. Here is a great link ==> List of Alkaline Foods. Reducing our stress is a massive element in helping to reduce Cancer, as stress causes 75% of all diseases and disorders in our body.

For decades there has been a myth among massage therapists and skin care professionals that massage should not be used with cancer patients. It is time we put this myth to rest and offer patients this most desired and comforting of complementary therapies. Massage is an effective and highly appreciated therapy for cancer patients and their families. It is physically and emotionally relaxing, it reduces stress and it provides much needed comfort. Massage is the most often requested by cancer patients in the world of complementary therapies. By massaging someone going through cancer, we do not spread the cancer, we do not worsen the cancer. We simply strengthen the person’s healthy cells that are fighting the cancer. Massage helps by improving the functioning of the immune system and improves their bodies own natural healing ability to heal itself. Massage decreases stress in the patient, which will, in turn, help them sleep, make them feel more at ease as well as reducing aches, pains and muscular tension

Scientific studies show that cancer patients receiving massage have lower anxiety scores than those receiving no massage therapy. Patients say that the release of muscle tension sometimes leads to pain relief and enhanced energy levels, feeling of deep relaxation, calm, and wholeness are most commonly reported. Massage therapy is exactly what the cancer patient needs! 


The Irish and American Cancer Societies endorse complementary therapies including gentle massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture, relaxation and visualization. The American Cancer Society states, “Many patients that are stressed either physically or emotionally because of their illness find real benefit from these therapies and develop and increased sense of well being and an increased perception of their quality of life.”

I am hoping to be able to offer Oncology massage very soon, in Re>Nu Treatment Rooms, in The Tower Hotel, in Waterford. I am one of the few who are trained in this amazing therapy in the South East. There will be three treatments on offer; Chemo Comfort Treatment, Radiation Relief Treatment and Healing Manuka Honey Scalp Treatment. The products I will be using are from the incredible brand Lindi Skin, and it is the ONLY full line of skincare products in the world developed to improve the lives of individuals undergoing chemotherapy  and radiation therapy. I will be covering these products in depth in an upcoming blog.


The doctors treat the cancer, I want to treat the person! I want to help them feel better about themselves, whether that be helping them to sleep, reducing their lymphedema, increasing the healing rate of their scars, increasing hair growth, improving their outlook on life or simply to offer a comforting touch therapy to help their bodies feel a little bit more like their own.

It was an amazing experience working with Christine and working on the brave individuals who allowed us delve into the most devastating experience of their lives. I feel truly honoured and grateful that I am now qualified in Touch Therapy for People Living with Cancer and I look forward to making a difference to the aftercare offered to cancer survivors here in Ireland.


Any questions or queries feel free to contact any of my social media links below or emailing me on sarahdwan@hotmail.com.

Your health is in your hands, and my hands can help.



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