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Complementary Care

Relaxation with Massage

Complementary care refers to therapies that are used in support with conventional medical treatments.

Clinics and hospitals can offer complementary care to help improve quality of life.  Examples of complementary care are psychological or spiritual counseling or support, nutritional counseling, exercise programs, massage, relaxation and visualization.  These therapies usually help to reduce stress, improve the immune system and may reduce the side effects of conventional medical care.

Complementary therapies help a person cope, incorporating body, mind and spirit.  Used with conventional medicine, these therapies allow a person to find what works best for them in reducing pain, decreasing anxiety, improving sleep, increasing their energy level and working towards improvement in the quality of their lives.

The American Cancer Society Booklet- What Causes Pain and Pain Relief

The American Cancer Society has a wonderful booklet concerning cancer pain; what causes pain, pain relief, assessing pain. What is especially gratifying is that they have a Non-Medical Therapies section that includes massage. Visit the American Cancer Society website and request Cancer Pain Treatment Guidelines for Patient.

Oncology massage is just one of the many complementary therapies that may induce the “Relaxation Response,” a termed coined by Dr. Herbert Benson. Basically, this means “all is calm” even temporarily. Your heart beats slower, your breathing relaxes, and endless chatter in your head subsides for awhile. Many activities can induce the Relaxation Response. Anything that diverts your mind from fears and concerns allows you a few moments of peace.

 Oncology Massage Therapists in a hospital setting, have the opportunity to talk with patients about what relaxes them, if they choose not to have a massage. These conversations allow patients to see how they are intuitively helping themselves in a positive way. Besides massage, here are a few other relaxation techniques during treatment:



Tai chai, Gigong, Yoga

Music, Dance and Art Therapy


Pet Therapy

Hobbies such as knitting and fishing



“We’ve done over 400 free massages over the past two years,” says Dr. Paula Gardiner, assistant director of integrative medicine at BU Medical Center. “Studies we’re conducting indicate that cancer patients who have these massages experience less nausea and depression and can get by on less pain medication.”  Wonderful to find these articles that show hospitals are doing research on the benefits of massage for their cancer patients.  I have seen the same results with the free massage program that I offered at Memorial Cancer Center in S. FL as well as FL Cancer and Research Specialists in SW FL.