Last year there were over 1.7 million new cases of cancer and more than 609,000 deaths.
Those are scary statistics considering the debilitating nature of the illness. Both cancer and its treatment are distressing periods for anyone involved. Pain, nausea, eating problems and extreme fatigue are among the many negative parts of the experience.
Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce the discomfort and enhance someone’s wellbeing throughout the ordeal. Of them all, massage therapy is an increasingly popular integrative approach (AKA an alternative treatment to be used in collaboration with traditional forms).
But how does someone with cancer stand to gain from it?
Keep reading to discover 7 reasons massage therapy is beneficial for cancer patients.
1. Contrast to Traditional Treatment
As we’ve already noted, the treatment of cancer is usually as bad as the disease itself.
Through chemotherapy and radiation, the modern approach effectively poisons the body. The result often leads to reduced cancer symptomology (and even remission). But the process takes a physical and mental toll.
Generally speaking, there’s nothing to looking forward to with either chemo or radiation. It’s a cold and clinical approach to the problem.
Massage is the total opposite. It’s a calming, holistic, gentle method of alleviating certain problems. The cancer itself may not rescind. But the effects it has can be mitigated (more on this later). A massage is a treat as much as a treatment. It’s about making someone feel better.
2. Greater Sense of Relaxation
Cancer is a difficult time.
Depending on the severity of the illness, any threat of death evokes deeply unsettling emotions. It’s ripe with uncertainty at what lies ahead. As a result, it’s often a time of intense worry and concern at what the future may hold.
Stress can build and actually perpetuate the physical symptoms of the disease.
Getting a massage is almost always a calming experience. Through the gentle manipulation of muscles, levels of stress and anxiety are reduced.
Likewise, massage can release feel-good chemicals in the brain, as well as endorphins. These create a sense of wellness and positivity. In times of hardship, such as having cancer, these can be a welcome reprieve from the usual emotional challenges involved.
3. Reduced Pain
Unfortunately, physical pain and discomfort are common parts of living with cancer too.
Swelling, inflammation, muscle soreness and so on are all regular burdens to bear. It adds insult to injury. Living in pain is a constant source of distress.
Concentration on anything other than the discomfort becomes a challenge. It affects the ability to be active and move around; sometimes staying still can be just as bad.
Massage can offer a welcome reduction in pain. Of course, strong massages can often be painful in their own right. That’s why gentle massage is usually the go-to for cancer sufferers.
The endorphins we mentioned above play their role here as well. They’re the body’s natural way of reducing pain. Nicely, they’re released throughout a massage.
4. Distraction from Reality
Distraction can be a vital part of getting through a difficult time.
Emotionally and physically, it can be an effective way to ‘forgetting’ about a predicament. Even a brief reprieve from day to day struggles can make a significant difference.
Getting a massage can provide exactly that. For as long as the massage lasts, someone with cancer can be transported to a different mental place.
It doesn’t matter who they are. Whether it’s cancer among firefighters, nursery teachers, high-school students, preschool kids, or office workers…Massage can offer a dose of normality and pleasure to an otherwise challenging experience.
5. Reductions in Fatigue
There’s a reason people are said to be ‘fighting’ their cancer.
The treatment of the disease can feel like a genuine battle against the illness. And, like all fights, it can be an exhausting process.
The body, mind, and emotions are all working in overdrive. Everyday life has an intensity to it. The determination to get better, as well as energy-sapping cancer treatment, all add up to high levels of fatigue.
So-called ‘cancer fatigue’ is thought to be helped by massage too. The restoration of energy is no small thing. Life always feels more hopeful when tiredness isn’t an issue.
6. Reductions in Nausea
Nausea is a frequent issue for those undergoing chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, it’s a natural side-effect of the treatment. Feeling sick and vomiting are common.
The good news is that massage therapy has been shown on numerous occasions to reduce nausea. However, it’s important to note that this effect is generally experienced in collaboration with other treatment. Massage, in collaboration with other approaches, is reported to help; massage by itself may be less effective.
Regardless, any opportunity to reduce feelings of sickness is sure to be welcomed by most.
7. Support for Depression and Low Mood
Massage is also known to support people struggling with depression.
Feelings of depression are common, and entirely understandable, in people with cancer. The nature of having a serious illness is bound to impact mood. The potential to feel a sense of hopelessness and sadness is high by virtue of the situation.
Equally, certain anti-depressant medication has the potential to interact with anti-cancer medication. Taking anti-depressants can make cancer treatment less effective.
Thankfully, massage therapy is a natural means of having the same positive mood-inducing effect. No medication required.
Final Thoughts on Why Massage Therapy is Beneficial for Cancer Patients
There you have it: 7 key reasons why massage therapy is beneficial for cancer patients.
Cancer is a debilitating illness that’s unfortunately common in the US and around the world. In terms of the disease and its treatment, the experience is tough on all involved. It’s important to take every opportunity to improve the situation and symptoms.
As we’ve seen, massage therapy is an integrative treatment approach with a host of positive effects. Hopefully, this article has highlighted the main advantages involved.
Like this article? Be sure to check out our other posts about cancer and its treatment on the blog. Search ‘cancer’ to get started.