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Pam McMillan a native to the Texas Panhandle is a registered nurse, wife and mother. During her career she has developed a passion for serving those suffering from cancer. Her current role is leading the survivorship program on behalf of the Harrington Cancer and Health Foundation. She continues to serve those individuals and families across the region that are affected by cancer. Follow her on Twitter @pammo10

The Power of Touch

What if you could give a patient just a moment to relax and escape the reality of life? Oncology massage is just the way to do it.
PUBLISHED: 7:43 AM, WED MAY 25, 2016
What is one thing that comes to mind when you hear the word massage? When I think of massage, I think of a serene room with calming music that helps me escape the reality of life. Massage can also help me be still for a moment and not worry about anything. 
The power of touch is amazing.  The power of touch for oncology patients is particularly important. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Melanie Eggleston, our Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), who earned her certification in oncology massage to learn more about oncology massage and the benefits for patients.
There are a lot of myths about oncology massage. Many people don’t know the difference between a massage and an oncology massage.  An oncology massage is a massage that has been adjusted to specifically meet the needs of the cancer survivor.  It is based on what type of cancer they have, if they are currently in treatment, if they have any side effects, or any specific issues they may be dealing with. There is evidence that a massage has many benefits, such as reducing nausea, fatigue, pain and stress. It also improves sleep, a person’s sense of well-being, increases appetite, and improves body image.
Many patients are concerned if a massage is safe for them. Melanie’s advice is to make sure your therapist has been trained to work on oncology patients. Unfortunately a lot of LMTs feel that if someone has a history of cancer they can just be "more gentle", but that is not always the case, and everyone's idea of gentle is different. Many patients also ask if there is a time they shouldn’t get a massage. This is a little controversial, but if you are feeling well enough for it, there is no reason not to.
Melanie is a big believer in the power of the mind to help healing. She believes that just helping clients to have a moment of peace and relaxation, where they don't have to think about their cancer is incredibly restorative. She also wholeheartedly believes that massage is important, regardless of where a patient is in their survivorship journey.  
A client of hers recently summed it up perfectly when she said, "I don't think I've given myself a chance to sit and just breathe since I was diagnosed five years ago. Thank you for giving me the time to do that. "
Everyone deserves a chance to take their mind to a healthy place and just relax, especially oncology patients. Massage can be a very powerful tool to help cope with treatment and posttreatment issues. We consider ourselves very lucky to have Melanie as often as we can at our Survivorship Center. I would highly encourage you to seek out the nearest Melanie in your community.

For more information on oncology massage or for assistance in finding a therapist near you go to

Talk about this article with nurses and others in the oncology community in the General Discussions Oncology Nursing News discussion group.
More from Pam McMillan, RN, OCN
Understanding the effects of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is imperative to be able to care for our patients better. 
PUBLISHED: Tue October 17 2017
Many patients complain of feeling so tired. What can we do to help those suffering from fatigue?
PUBLISHED: Tue August 29 2017
What milestones do you celebrate with your oncology patients?
PUBLISHED: Thu June 15 2017
As a young adult with cancer you may feel like a prisoner in your own world. How can nurses help this age group?
PUBLISHED: Wed May 31 2017
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