First let's start with remedial massage or other modalities of massage, which many of us have engaged with in the past. These may have been firm in pressure, working to gain relief of pain and possibly increase your range of motion. These forms of massage do not have a lot in common with an Oncology Massage Treatment.
What is Oncology Massage (OM)?
Oncology Massage (OM) is a massage technique that is light in touch, with movements that have a slow and mindful approach delivered by a qualified Oncology Massage Therapist. It can be done with the use of oil, and/or direct contact with skin, through clothing.
Another technique offered is the Bone Marrow Support Sequence, this is the placement of hands along the long bones of the body. This technique is valuable in end of life treatments, or for those with extreme side effects of treatments.
How does OM work?
OM works by engaging the fascia. Fascia is the largest contractile organ in the body (it extends through the entire body), it connects tissues, organs and bones. It can be found just below the skin, permeating in and around organs, muscles and even bones!
Fascia is most effective when well hydrated. It responds to the warmth of gentle touch, eliciting the relaxation response. Fascia acts as a communication highway full of sensory nerve receptors for the body, sending messages back to the brain and central nervous system (CNS).
OM works on the ability to engage the fascia through gentle touch and send messages back to the brain and CNS allowing the relaxation response to be enacted.
What is the Relaxation Response?
The relaxation response may be described as a state of 'letting go', thus allowing muscles to release tension to the greatest degree possible (no need for heavy massage). This brings about a space for the mind to develop a feeling of calmness, a place of mental ease.
Bone Marrow Support Sequence
This sequence uses a light systemic touch in a particular placement around the body. May be described as mindful touch therapy. Therapist's hands are placed directly on skin or through clothing and held in place for a length of time. In this therapy there is no traditional massage movement of hands over the body, hands are held in one place before moving to next placement area. The BMSS is engaging the fascia around the body, including the periosteum which surrounds the bones, and is thought to stimulate the immune system and support bone marrow production.
This mindful touch is safe and comforting through any stage of treatment.
How long after chemotherapy can I get a Oncology Massage?
We will work with you to plan your OM at a time that suits you. Each client response to chemotherapy is as individual as you, so we will fit in with how you are feeling pre and post chemo.
Can OM support Leukaemia patients?
People who are fighting a blood cancer may be unsure if they can have a specialised massage.
With OM the touch is so light that the risk of bruising and/or bleeding is reduced. The touch is so light that people drying themselves after bathing are often applying more pressure than OM.
Can OM spread disease?
There is no scientific evidence to prove that the light touch of OM spreads disease. With many people still taking on regular life, for example; caring for family, working, exercising and as mentioned earlier towel drying after bathing, the light touch Oncology Massage offers is lower than many of these daily tasks.
We see it as a restorative therapy to support you in achieving your daily life tasks.
Will you touch my surgery site?
Massage will not be applied directly to site for 6 weeks post surgery. It is safe for massage to be conducted one hands width from surgery site until this time. Of course you are in control and may choose that we stay away from the area altogether. Remember, that fascia covers to whole body, and treatment in another area will still have a positive affect through the body.
How can OM support me?
Oncology Massage (OM) is massage support offered to those living with a cancer diagnosis, history of cancer (or any other chronic disease), a life limiting diagnosis or those currently undergoing treatment for cancer by:
Pain Improved 47%
Fatigue Improved 42%
Anxiety Improved 59%
Nausea Improved 51%
Depression Improved 48%
Other (including shortness of breath, memory problems, dry mouth or disturbed sleep) improved 48%
For more information please see Oncology Massage Training Australia https://www.oncologymassagetraining.com.au
Source - Oncology Massage Training, 2019