A Touch of Healing: Massage Can Alleviate Symptoms of Cancer, Treatments

Oncology massage can help alleviate many symptoms of cancer and its treatments, as long as practitioners have the right qualifications.
In past encounters, a massage table and a set of laboring hands, rigorously kneading out the day’s tensions, had been a routine and welcomed sight for Shelly Bain.

But a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis in the winter of 2014 would be a game-changer for the then-38-year-old Texan.

“I was someone who had gone for massages all throughout my life,” Bain says, “but when I went for a facial in between my diagnosis and chemo, the specialist was afraid to work on me.” Although the fear was unfounded, Bain recalls, “she was worried about spreading it.”

Four months of chemotherapy, a 12-hour bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction surgery and seven weeks of radiation only put Bain further on edge.

“I was so focused on the cancer treatment, I hadn’t had a chance to do a lot of self-care,” she says, “and I was so tired from it all.”

Oncology massage therapist GERI RUANE, right, poses with client SHELLY BAIN during a fundraiser for a breast cancer resource center. Ruane volunteered at the event, and Bain modeled an artist-crafted bra. [PHOTO COURTESY OF GERI RUANE]

Once chemotherapy was underway, a few inquiries led Bain to the threshold of Geri Ruane.

A retired educator-turned-massage therapist, Ruane is one of a small but growing number of individuals in her field who specialize in treating former and current cancer patients. Ruane became a certified oncology massage therapist in 2011, and currently operates a burgeoning Austin-based private practice, Two Roads Massage Therapy.

“Now 50 percent of my clients have had treatments or are survivors of cancer,” she says.

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