Healing Touch—Part 1

Healing Touch_1

Finding comfort and ease of movement can be difficult when a woman is recovering from cancer treatment. A very useful tool in feeling better and regaining optimal function is therapeutic massage.

Long ago the hands-on manipulation of cancer patients was thought to spread the disease by circulating fluids around the body. This erroneous notion was clinically debunked decades ago, and many women find relief through massage during and after cancer treatment.

In fact, many Thrivors credit therapeutic massage as the single most rejuvenating tool in their recovery toolbox. Through their recommendation, I decided to explore the many modalities of therapeutic massage through this new series “Healing Touch.”

I recently talked with long-time massage therapist Margaret Lawrence about this healing art. Having overcome breast cancer herself ten years ago, Margaret brings a unique perspective to the care that women need after undergoing cancer treatment.

JTD: How does therapeutic massage contribute to cancer recovery?

ML: There are many different modalities that massage therapists utilize for treatment in general, some of which are well suited for women in recovery from cancer treatments such as surgeries or radiation.

Comfort Massage is a palliative approach that can help calm the whole nervous system and provide a quiet, safe space for women to rest and rejuvenate. Having this time to relax and be present in their bodies is crucial for healing and self-care.

Many women suffer pain and discomfort from their surgery scars, which can also cause limited range of motion issues in their arms and necks. Myofascial and Scar Tissue Release are important modalities for opening up areas of the body that have contracted and shortened, not only from the physical effects of surgeries but the emotional holding and protectiveness that many women experience after treatment.

Stretching and Muscle Energy Technique can be used to treat shoulder impingements caused by weeks of radiation therapy that requires women to hold their arms overhead for extended periods of time.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is also an important modality for women who are experiencing lymphedema due to a disruption of the lymph flow post lymph node dissection and removal.

Mostly all of these techniques are encouraging flow in the body’s tissues, which also can stimulate a stirring of emotions and energy in the body.