Quiet Strength: How Oncology Massage Supports the Virginia Cancer Plan

Massage client lies face down on comfortable massage table while therapist works with their neck muscles.

Recently, I traveled to Richmond to attend the Cancer Action Coalition of Virginia conference. I’m a member of CACV’s Survivorship Task Force, especially because I’m providing oncology massage therapy.

Helping clients feel better from their side effects is a huge motivation for my massage work. (And I’m a cancer survivor, as well).

CACV is a group of healthcare providers, non-profit organizations, and cancer survivors from across the state. Our collective mission: to reduce the physical, emotional, economic, & other burdens of cancer for Virginians.

Our Goals to Work for a Virginia Without Cancer

CACV (cooperating with the Virginia Department of Health and other stakeholders) has created a 2023-2027 Virginia Cancer Plan. It’s overflowing with objectives, strategies, and calls to action!

We’re focusing on these aspects of cancer care in the Commonwealth:

  • Prevention — Spreading the word about healthy behaviors and wellness habits
  • Early Detection — Promoting the benefits of screening, and improving access to cancer screening
  • Diagnosis & cancer-directed therapy — Enhancing cancer care by eliminating barriers, promoting evidence-based approaches, and encouraging involvement in clinical trials
  • Survivorship & palliative care — Optimizing quality of life for all those diagnosed with cancer
  • Pediatric, adolescent, & young adult cancers — Improving access to long-term care and support systems

And within all these goals, we’re addressing health equity and disparities in cancer treatment.

Brochure from the Cancer Action Coalition of Virginia 2023 Conference.

The best parts of this conference were connecting with professionals who care about improving the lives of people with cancer, and hearing the personal stories many people shared. The presentations were inspiring, heart-wrenching, & encouraging.

I left the conference with many thoughts about CACV’s important mission. Let’s talk about how oncology massage factors into the goals of the Virginia Cancer Plan!

Massage Can Help Reduce the Burdens

As many of you know, oncology massage takes a specialized approach. Anyone who has been affected by cancer can receive an adapted and personalized massage from me. I’ll consider several things to make sure your session is right for you:

  • Your diagnosis
  • Whether you’ve had chemo, radiation, or other treatments
  • Any side effects you’re experiencing
  • Safety precautions to address any vulnerabilities related to your treatment
  • and more.

Many clients find they receive therapeutic benefits that help them manage their side effects. For example, massage can relieve pain, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and improve well-being.

Oncology massage session. Cancer patient is lying on their left side while the massage therapist works with their back and shoulders.

Using My Gifts for the Good

As an oncology massage therapist, my most common role fits into the goal of survivorship and palliative care. I have many opportunities to use my business to help others and be involved in cancer care. For example:

  • Last March, I supported the Don’t Sit on Colon Cancer 5k in Virginia Beach
  • My massage practice can collaborate with medical providers and provide a beneficial resource to help their patients
  • I’m eager to spread awareness & clear up misunderstandings. People with cancer can still receive massage therapy!

How Oncology Massage Supports Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

  • Some medical evidence suggests that high levels of stress & cortisol may increase our risk for various types of cancer. Along with that, many clients mention feeling stress & anxiety when they come in. And most people find they’re much calmer and relaxed afterward! Therefore, therapeutic massage might help to reduce some emotional stress-related cancer risk factors.
  • Although I cannot diagnose any medical condition, sometimes I’ve observed something unusual on a client’s skin that they may be unaware of. If I mention it, they can check it out with their dermatologist or other medical provider.
  • Having experienced melanoma and basal cell carcinoma skin cancers, I feel compelled to assist others in being vigilant about protecting their skin.
Woman looking up at the beach with sunglasses and a spot of sunscreen on her nose.

Helping to Get the Word Out

And when cancer screening and early detection events happen in Hampton Roads, I want to help spread the word. It’s a small contribution, but I’ll do my part by sharing events, news, and cancer prevention updates on my business’s social media.

Oncology massage can support the other goals of our Virginia Cancer Plan, as well!

I’ll share more thoughts about that in my next blog post. If you have questions or concerns about massage for cancer patients, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me any time.

Would you like to learn more about the Cancer Action Coalition of Virginia (CACV) or read about the 2023-2027 Virginia Cancer Plan? Check out their website and download a PDF of the plan here.

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