Massage for people living with cancer
The diagnosis of cancer quickly changes a person’s life. Learning to manage that change is an ongoing process that takes time. There are many different therapies, such as art or massage therapy, which may help you redefine and connect with your “new normal.” Massage therapy is referred to as a complementary therapy -- not alternative therapy -- because it is evidence-based. It may help you manage the short and long term side effects of treatment and can give you a sense of comfort. Comfort-oriented massage or touch can be helpful to people with cancer regardless of the severity of their condition.
How is massage different for the cancer patient?
A therapist must pay special attention to the side effects being experienced by a person going through treatment for cancer. For example, adjustments must be made for clients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation or who have a history of it, have had surgical or medical procedures, or are at risk for lymphedema. Modifications are tailored to the person’s needs and may include variations in pressure, site and positioning, techniques, stroke and session length or location.
How can massage help?
Massage therapy offers benefits to cancer patients at nearly every stage of treatment and recovery. Among other benefits, massage may help:
- Decrease symptoms related to chemotherapy and radiation such as fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite
- Increase the effectiveness of other treatments such as pain medication, physical therapy or a medical procedure
- Increase circulation
- Provide pain relief
- Decrease anxiety and depression
- Increase range of motion
- Relieve muscle soreness
- Decrease swelling
What to look for
People who are diagnosed with cancer may have special needs. It is recommended that they seek the services of a massage therapist who is specifically trained in oncology massage.
This list of massage therapists includes individuals who have completed a 500-hour massage therapy course and a three-day training course designed to prepare the therapist to offer massage to clients that have received a diagnosis of cancer.
- Elaine Mullenmaster, LPN, Certified Massage Therapist Sauk Rapids 320-493-2554
- Juli Sanner, RN, OCN, Certified Massage Therapist St. Joseph 320-420-6244
- Mary L. Weihrauch, RN, MA, Certified Massage Therapist Open Hands Health Services, Sauk Rapids 320-257-9026
- Donna Wenz, Certified Massage Therapist Little Falls 320-632-9070
- Donna Young, Certified Massage Therapist Little Falls 320-632-0625
Disclaimer: These therapists are not employed by the Coborn Cancer Center or CentraCare Health System as massage therapists. We in no way endorse any of the therapists or the use of massage therapy as a treatment for cancer. The decision to seek massage therapy services is up to the individual and you are encouraged to check with your physician before using massage therapy or any complementary therapy.
1900 CentraCare Circle, Suite 1600
St. Cloud, MN 56303
(877) 229-4907 toll-free
(320) 229-5160 fax