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It is important to educate yourself, and find a massage therapist that knows what he/she is doing. Particularly if you’ve had lymph nodes removed, be very cautious in your selection. A therapist who doesn’t know any better may perform the wrong technique or massage too close and increase your risk of lymphedema, a long-term condition that can create chronic and painful swelling.
Some helpful tips:
1. Call before you go! First, describe your current state of treatment and ask if they will treat you. If the answer is no, keep looking! Research shows us that in most every case, properly performed massage is allowed for oncology clients. In fact, many hospitals offer as part of their cancer care.
Ask about licenses and certifications. and ask if anyone on staff has experience working with not only cancer patients, but you’re particular condition. Avoid all aggressive therapies during cancer treatments, including deep tissue massage, hot stone therapy, Swedish massage, Shiatsu, sports massage, and anything that feels too rough.
3. Observe when you go for your appointment. Does your massage therapist ask questions? At the very least, he/she should have you fill out an extensive form detailing your medical treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, lymph node removal, ports, incision locations, white blood cell count, etc. Someone who doesn’t take the time to know this about you isn’t educated—go to someone else.
4. Ask about the type of products they’re planning to use. Ask to see the bottle and the ingredient list. Allow them to use only safe and nurturing formulas that are fragrance-free and made without sulfates, phthalates, and other potentially harmful ingredients.
5. Stop anything that feels uncomfortable. If anything hurts or feels uncomfortable to you, tell the therapist to stop. He/she should be more than willing to listen to you and make adjustments. If not, care enough about your health to leave.
"Most important to me is that Kenny listens and provides a massage appropriate
for my concerns. Next is the environment he has created - from the colors
in the room, to the heated massage table (cold days) and lastly the music.
I leave feeling better physical and completely relaxed." A. P.