Programs That Offer Massage
by Patricia Kirby
We offer a list and description
of hospitals and treatment programs that incorporate massage as
a standard part of their treatment options plans for cancer patients.
Simply click on
the name of the hospital to read a short description of their treatment
program that follows below.
If you know of other hospitals that
also offer massage to their patients please email
us the name of the hospital and who to contact at the hospital.
Mercy Medical Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Stanford University Hospital, Stanford,
Cancer treatment Centers of America, Tulsa,
The Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Center,
Shadyside Hospital Center for Complementary
Regional Medical Center, Zion, Illinois
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon,
Summit Medical Center, Oakland, California
Mary's Mercy Medical Center
Massage has been offered to cancer patients at St.
Mary's Mercy Medical Center since 1996, and is considered
a regular part of the center's nursing care.
Massage Reduces anxiety levels, relieves
insomnia, eliminates nausea, eases depression, manages pain, and
reduces the need for medication, according to Beth Cosmos, coordinator
for massage therapy. "[Massage] quiets anxiousness, and then
people can clear out emotionally and mentally. They look forward
to massage because they feel it mentally, emotionally, spiritually,"
Cosmos was given the task of making
initial presentations to doctors and staff, and then worked with
doctors on a case-by-case basis until everyone was comfortable with
what a massage program could offer. The hospital's medical staff
was taught how to assess which patients would benefit most from
massage, and now both physicians and nurses make referrals. Cosmos
also teaches basic massage techniques to hospital staff and patients'
families, and oversees an intern program that trains massage students.
Cancer patients at Stanford
University Hospital don't just receive massage, they also get
an education on how to be more in touch with their bodies. Massage
therapy has been offered to patients at the hospital since 1993.
work as hourly employees, offering Swedish massage, craniosacral
therapy, gentle stretching, Trager® work, Reiki, Feldenkrais®,
and deep-tissue work, when appropriate. "We want to get people
in touch with their bodies in a positive way. For some people this
is the first time they've felt good in their bodies in years,"
said Lee Daniel Erman, a massage therapist at the hospital.
are made by doctors, nurses and patients themselves. Erman noted,
"We want to work compatibly and cooperatively with the standard
conventional care they are getting."
results in relaxation, nausea, relief, increased flexibility, reduction
in swelling, a softening of scar tissue and positive body-awareness,
according to Erman.
bone-marrow-transplant patient said that for six months he had lost
all sense of and desire for food, exercise, and sex, [and that]
massage was the only enjoyable bodily sensation he experienced,"
also receive somatic education from massage therapists, including
observing body sensations, noticing where they feel tenseness and
tightness, and learning to relax and breathe. Erman said that sometimes
simply teaching body awareness can facilitate healing.
massage for cancer survivors is offered through the hospital's Complementary
Medicine Clinic, which has two massage therapists on staff. Massage
at the clinic is often deeper and more focused, Erman said, because
patients are in less serious condition than those in the hospital.
Treatment Centers of America
Lavender, mint and tangerine scent the air in patient
rooms at this medical center, where aromatherapy massage is one
of many services offered to cancer patients.
therapy was first brought to the center three years ago after a
patient requested it. It has since become a standard part of the
rehabilitation program. Two certified massage therapists, who are
also physical technicians, use myofascial release, Swedish techniques,
strain-counterstrain, acupressure, neuro-muscular release and trigger-point
therapy. Patients receiving massage report decreased pain, an increase
in range of motion, and a decrease in nausea and headaches. Patients
are referred for massage by their physicians, or they self-refer.
therapists are sometimes an early warning system for potential problems,
according to Karen Gilbert, director of oncology rehabilitation,
as therapists occasionally find lumps that have not shown up on
massage therapists, because they are familiar with patient's body,
when something shows up, they notice it.
Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Center, Morton Plant Mease Health
Patients who have had
chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for cancer are sent to this
center to receive massage therapy to relieve lymphedema, the fluid
retention that often occurs in interstitial tissue after surgery
or radiation treatments for cancer. The center has offered massage
therapy to cancer patients since 1993. Referrals to the center are
made by hospital doctors or nurses, or patients self-refer.
massage therapists, both full-time employees, use a technique called
combined decongestive therapy to help drain the excess fluid. Massage
therapist Mark Steward said that when the swelling is decreased,
the incidence of recurrent infection goes down, pain decreases,
and the areas are usually restored to normal healthy functioning.
first all our patients had extreme swelling," Stewart said.
"Now we are getting people right after swelling starts, right
after surgery. The sooner they get massage, the less swelling they
Hospital's Center for Complementary Medicine
Massage is just one component of this medical center's
treatment protocol for cancer patients, which may also include acupuncture,
hypnosis, physical therapy, naturopathy, Chinese medicine, eye movement
desenitization and reprocessing (EMDR), Therapeutic Touch®,
shiatsu, sweat lodges and shamanic work.
has been part of the center's program for two years, and is utilized
for patient comfort and pain relief, to treat insomnia, and as an
immune system boost, according to massage therapist Tamara Luffy.
is like a medication - it helps [patients] get to that healing place
where their body needs to be to start to work on itself," she
therapists work on contract, offering reflexology, craniosacral
therapy, manual lymph drainage, shiatsu and deep-tissue work. Periodically
the hospital offers month-long massage classes to educate hospital
staff and the public about the benefits of massage and how it affects
Regional Medical Center
This small medical center serves primarily late-stage
cancer patients. "We don't get the first diagnosis of cancer
in patients - we get the patients that have been turned down, those
who have been told to go home and wait for two months 'til God takes
them. We have people come here for more options," said Director
of Rehabilitation Stanislav Maravilla.
has been offered here since 1997. Whoever needs or wants massage,
providing it isn't contraindicated, is given it. "We have a
standing order from the doctors," said Maravilla, adding that
massage is used to ease nausea, decrease pain, relieve insomnia,
and restore range of motion in patients who have had surgery.
therapist Martin Farber works on contract, offering a blend of Swedish
massage, neuromuscular therapy, and myofascial techniques in sessions
tailored to patient needs. He goes on "comfort rounds"
with doctors twice a week, assessing patients' comfort levels and
seeing who massage might benefit.
to giving massage to patients, Farber also offers a twice-monthly
clinic for the staff to receive massage, and leads weekly workshops
on breathing for vitality, self-massage, and basic massage techniques
for patients, their families and the public.
is powerful work, Farber noted. "I had the experience of a
patient's husband stopping me in the parking lot and saying it was
the first time he'd seen his wife smile in three months.
Hitchcock Medical Center
The choices here sound like offerings at a spa: Reiki,
shiatsu, Swedish massage, guided meditation and a selection of raspberry,
ginger, mint and echinacea herbal teas. These are just a few of
the complementary therapies offered to cancer patients at Dartmouth
Hitchcock Medical Center.
is considered a standard part of hands-on nursing care at the center,
and has been offered since 1989 to cancer patients of all ages.
Patients are referred by medical staff, or they self-refer.
therapists and nurse Briane Pinkson works primarily on the oncology
unit, although she is available to other wards as well. She uses
a blend of bodywork types including Swedish/Esalen massage, shiatsu,
Reiki, Trager work, Therapeutic Touch, trigger-point therapy, reflexology
and Healing Touch.
that patients receive from massage include lessened nausea, pain
relief, a decreased feeling of isolation, relief from insomnia,
and an overall sense of peacefulness, Pinkson said. She has heard
rave reviews from parents of young children, who ask her, "When
are you coming back?" It's the only thing they look forward
Cancer patients who receive massage at this medical center owe their
thanks to the dedicated efforts of a volunteer who started out giving
massage on the oncology ward eight years ago. In April 1999 the
center hired that volunteer, massage therapist Jeannie Battagin,
as an independent contractor to coordinate an effort to bring massage
to other wards in the hospital.
Patients are referred to Battagin by
physicians, nurses, pastoral caregivers or family members, or they
self-refer. For people who can't afford to pay the donation that
is requested for a massage, there is a scholarship fund set up by
the Summit Medical Center Foundation, so no one is refused service.
Battagin finds there is always something
she can do to help. "My role as massage therapist allows me
to spend some time with patients. It is not one more invasive procedure
or one more person rushing in and out of the room. Through massage
I can truly present in an informed and caring touch.," she
The gentle Swedish massage she uses
helps patients relax, lowers their need for pain medication, and
relieves nausea and insomnia, Battagin said.
But sometimes the benefits of massage
can't be measured Battagin added. "In a hospital there can
be numerous mechanical procedures. This is different. For some patients
it's a chance to re-connect with their own deeper sense of well-being.
They feel cared about and held."