By Eileen Strong Therapeutic Massage & Holistic Complementary Therapist

I attended
my first ever massage training course more than 20 years ago, and loved

I have learnt various massage techniques since that time and a range of
other therapies too. It was a just 3
years ago that I decided to learn some new skills and undertake specialist
training for the Hydrotherm Massage system to become an approved Hydrotherm
therapist. I was drawn to Hydrotherm
because their suite of massages included
pregnancy massage and, the one that really caught my attention; massage for
people on their cancer journey. Most of
us have had our lives touched by cancer in some way, and I’m no exception. Being able to give back to those in need,
when they need it most, is something I feel strongly about.

As many of
you know, we have a wonderful range of different massages available for you to
enjoy at Acorn. The Hydrotherm Massage
system is a little different in that the client reclines on the treatment couch
upon cushions filled with warm water for their entire massage. Since the person doesn’t have to roll over
during their massage, it’s super relaxing and is especially ideal for anyone
with mobility problems, or who finds it uncomfortable laying on their stomach.

You can
take a look at the massage system here Hydrotherm Quick Peek.

Endorsed by
Penny Brohn Cancer Care, the Tranquil Sea Hydrotherm massage takes this deeply
relaxing treatment a step further. The
training has allowed me to gain confidence and competence when working with
clients who are currently being treated for cancer, or have a history of

Massage misunderstood

I was
particularly drawn to learning the Tranquil Sea massage because back in 2008 at
the massage training school, we were taught that on no account should we
massage anyone with cancer. Historically, until very recent times,
it has always been a grey area in the
massage industr. This is largely due
to a plethora of myths surrounding
whether massage is safe whilst undergoing cancer treatment. There is also an additional rule, however, that if someone has a letter of permission
from their GP, then they CAN have a massage.
But if a therapist isn’t given specialist training about how to perform
or adapt a massage for someone on their cancer journey, how can they possibly
know whether it is safe or not. Confusing? Absolutely.

I was
recently quite surprised to learn that there’s still around 70 per cent of spas
in the UK that continue to operate an outright ban on offering their services
to people who have previously had, or are in treatment for, cancer.

This issue
really hit the media in January 2018 when Jo Mackie was refused a massage and
manicure at Center Parks where she was celebrating her 50th
birthday. Asked what she thought about
being turned away by Centre Parcs, Ms Mackie told ITV London:

“Fundamentally, I think it’s humiliating
– you fight tooth and nail as a cancer patient to beat a disease which is
potential life threatening only to be told you can’t do something as normal as
have a massage….. It’s ridiculous .”

Ms Mackie sued Center
Parcs over her experience. The company said in a statement: “If a guest
has a medical condition or had undergone a medical treatment we do ask for a
letter from their GP, as therapists are not medically trained.”

The issue is, therefore,
ensuring that therapists are adequately and expertly trained to be able to
provide a safe and comfortable massage for anyone at any stage of their cancer
journey. No one with cancer should ever
get turned away from a treatment, I think you’d agree.

Informed understanding

research is moving forward all the time and we now have a much deeper
understanding about different types of cancer and how they spread within the

We also know that cancer treatments such as
chemotherapy and radiotherapy effect not only the cancer cells, but also surrounding
healthy cells too. This can compromise the strength and function of
body systems, organs and tissue while the person is in recovery.

A typical
example of this would be where lymph nodes have been surgically removed, or
where radiotherapy has been directed to an area where lymph nodes
proliferate. If the lymph system becomes
compromised, a massage carried out by an
untrained therapist could potentially overload the system and contribute in the longer term to
other complications such as Lymphodema ( why lymph fluid cannot flow freely and
backs up, causing pain and swelling)

This is
just one example of why a massage might need to be adapted, and why a massage
therapist should have the knowledge and skill to know what to do.

Massage is good for you!

In treating the person holistically as
a whole, the Amethyst Trust in conjunction with Penny Brohn Cancer Care says
that in their experience, regular massage can:

Lead to improved physical and emotional

Help people express emotions and deal
with anger

Reduce isolation and reduce fear

Reduce nausea

Restore a sense of balance and

Provide a sense of calm

Reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort

Improve sleep

Help people to feel special

We know that hospices and treatment
units have been providing massage and other relaxational therapies to patients
for a many years, because they know how beneficial it is.

As one previous cancer patient
explained, “ I just needed to shut down and have time for me away from
everything, I just wanted to feel human again;
it is important that therapists don’t treat a cancer sufferer with fear,
but learn how to treat us safely; adapting treatments and treating us as
“normal”. It made my life just that
little bit easier in a time when I felt my life had changed forever.”

So the reality is that massage is
perfectly safe if adaptations are made and there has never been any scientific
evidence behind the contention that massage can spread cancer.

Both at Acorn Natural Health Centre and
my own practice at home in Milford, I’m
delighted to be able to provide a confident and competent massage therapy for
anyone on their cancer journey, without the need for a signed GP referral.

In addition to being a certified
Hydrotherm Tranquil Sea therapist, I’ve also undertaken intensive 3 day
training in Cancer Touch Therapy. The
two treatments compliment each other beautifully, and can both be considered wonderful spa style treatments
in their own right, suitable for everyone, whatever their health challenges may
be, including people on their cancer journey.

Clients who have these treatments give
wonderful feedback. It isn’t just the treatment itself, but also
the one to one care, the supportive touch, and complete time out all
really help.

If you would like more information
about the massage therapies and other services I provide, then please get in
touch to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

SPECIAL OFFER on 90 MIN TRANQUIL SEA TREATMENTS – you can click on the link to book and enter the redeem code: TRANQUILSEA90 or get in touch to find out more and book. Offer expires on 1st June 2019.
Contact: 01773 687349 or 07745409059.