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Posted by: Nicola Bourne, 5 Aug 2008 2:19PM
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Holistic Treatments and Cancer

I am qualified in Aromatherapy, massage and Reflexology and have a mother who is unfortunately dying of cancer. I was always taught that cancer is contraindicated to all treatments I provide but that never sat quite right with me. I understand you don't want to spread the condition further and there may be areas they don't want massaged but I just think the benefits of wonderful treatments on the mind and for stress would far outweigh any harm they could do, and have found some research done in the USA that seems to support this. Just wondering if anyone had any thoughts or advise on this?! Thanks, Nicola


Angela Rawlins
5 Aug 2008 3:09PM

Hi Nicola I agree, cancer patients can get benefit. I know a lady who, being so worried about what the aromatherapy oils might do with 'contraindication' that she gave up! I attended a seminar organised by the Ass. of Reflexologists a few years ago on treating cancer patients. The lady giving the seminar had been a nurse in cancer care. She said that just walking about stimulates the body. You can go on seminars to learn how to treat cancer patients which can give you confidence. I have had one or two clients with cancer who benefited enormously from Reiki and Reflexology.
Diana Keeling
5 Aug 2008 9:37PM

Hi Nicola, I'm a reiki and massage therapist and work with cancer patients, mainly with reiki. It is a wonderful treatment for anyone terminally ill and greatly improves quality of life and helps people come to terms with what is happening. It gives a great feeling of serenity and aids the belief that there is much more ahead after we leave this life. Massage is possible for cancer patients with a doctor's approval and there are lots of courses and training in pallative care. Macmillan nurses are a good reference point and your local hospice generally has therapists who have experience of working in this field and are happy to give advice and guidance. Take care, many blessings and peace Di
Roushan Martens
5 Aug 2008 11:17PM

Hi Nicola, I would really recommend doing a course on using your therapy with people with cancer - there are any number of them out there. I did a fantastic 3-day course with an American woman called Gayle McDonald (I think you should be able to find her if you put 'medicine hands' into google). She comes over to the uk every now and then to do a course in massage for people with cancer, usually to Scotland, I think, although that may have changed. I highly recommend her book, 'Medicine Hands', about working with people with cancer, which has tons of info and experience behind it. She's magic! You probably want a better authority than me on this, but I learned on the course that the fear of massage making a cancer metastasize (reappear as a secondary tumour) is misplaced. Secondaries require genetic and biochemical conditions to be in place before they can appear, and can't be simply 'spread' by manipulating the tissues - if this was true, moving around would do it. As I say, I'm not an authority, but you might want to look into that further. The main risks are of lymphodema, or of the treatment being too 'demanding' for the client in a weakened state, and it is really worth taking a course to learn more about avoiding these things so that you can give treatments to people with cancer, who need them just like the rest of us, if not more! Best of luck, Roushan.
Angela Rawlins
6 Aug 2008 2:43PM

Hi Nicola Try contacting Edwina Hodkinson, she was the lady whos seminar I attended. She is also an aromatherapist see: www.touchmanchester.co.uk/business/list/bid/2893573
Nicola Bourne
6 Aug 2008 6:59PM

Thanks you all so much for your tips and advice, I really apreciate it. Nicola
Mark Pearson
7 Aug 2008 4:02PM

Hi Nicola I agree with all these comments and if you aim to specialise in cancer care a post grad course would be the way forward However, your needs lie with your mum at the minute and despite the fact that there is much out there for you to read that says that comp therapies sit well with people who have cancer, you need to be sure that YOU are happy doing it. I have been working with cancer and comp therapies for about 11 years now and can honestly say that treating people with the condition is never easy - even less easy when you are related to them. When I show relatives how they can help with basic/simple moves, some bolt and some but into it - it depends on the person One thing i can suggest is that you could find a therapist who can work on your mum, so that she can get the benefits from the treatments from someone who is experienced in that field (no disrespects to you OR your training) but on her journey, she needs the benefits that balanced comp therapies can offer. Hope this helps - all the best
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