Specific massage technique used to treat patients who have had a cancer diagnosis
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s now offers certified oncology massage, a massage technique specifically for people undergoing cancer treatment or who have had a previous cancer diagnosis. Offered through Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Wege Institute for Mind, Body and Spirit, certified oncology massage is offered as an outpatient service, and it is complimentary for people receiving inpatient care at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
“It just made sense for Mercy Health to offer certified oncology massage,” said Timothy Maciejewski, practice leader for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Wege Institute of Mind, Body and Spirit. “We provide massage therapy free of charge to patients within the hospital. We wanted to be able to care for our patients receiving cancer treatments at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Lacks Cancer Center as well.”
Lindsey Huizinga, LMT, is a certified oncology massage therapist at Mercy Health. She saw the need to become certified because she was continuously being asked why she could not provide traditional massage therapy to patients receiving cancer treatment.
“Many people are not aware that patients with a cancer diagnosis, whether in treatment or in remission, need a different type of massage therapy,” said Huizinga. “In fact, traditional massage can actually do harm to those patients.”
According to the Society for Oncology Massage, oncology massage is a client-specific, customized massage session designed to meet the unique and changing needs of someone in treatment for cancer or with a history of cancer treatment. Oncology massage is composed of traditional, established massage therapy techniques that have been adapted around the patient’s specific health situation, including the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, or specific areas of concern, such as mediports or bone metastases. Session length, pressure and positioning are a few of the notable differences with an oncology massage.
Oncology massage can provide a variety of benefits, including those often associate with massage therapy: relaxation, reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep and reduced pain. For patients who have had or are being treated for cancer, benefits can help with the recovery of treatment such as easier recovery from anesthesia, reduced post-surgical pain and swelling, improved mobility and range of motion, reduced post-treatment fatigue and improved peripheral neuropathy.