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FirstHealth Fitness Offers Massage Therapy Especially for Cancer Patients

| Date Posted: 6/25/2014

Jo Ann Richardson

Jo Ann Richardson

PINEHURST – Relaxation is important to cancer treatment and recovery, but being able to relax can be difficult for cancer patients.

Medications, radiation and surgeries – as well as the effects of the disease itself – can take a toll, leaving the individual nauseous, fatigued, anxious and sometimes depressed.

According to Jo Ann Richardson, massage can help, especially when it is directed toward the special needs of cancer patients. A massage therapist at firstspa at FirstHealth Fitness in Pinehurst, Richardson is a certified medical massage practitioner.

“The human touch is very profound,” she says, “but you want (massage) to be done by someone who knows and understands (cancer patients).”

In addition to the private massage sessions she provides, Richardson will offer a free class called “Safe Massage During and After Cancer Treatment” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, at the Pinehurst fitness center. She will focus on how massage can nurture well-being both during and after cancer treatment, helping to reduce pain and fatigue, improve sleep, and decrease anxiety and nausea – all common effects of cancer and cancer treatment.

As an S40M (Society for Oncology Massage) preferred provider of oncology massage, Richardson has been educated to provide safe massage for people at every stage of their cancer journey, studying with Tracy Walton and Lauren Muser Cates.

Both are therapists, educators, authors and leaders in the field of oncology massage, which is a modification of massage techniques to accommodate the effects of cancer and cancer treatment.

Oncology massage is considered appropriate for people in active treatment, those in recovery or survivorship, and even those at the end of life. Skill sets of the oncology massage therapist include an understanding of cancer's pathology and the side effects of cancer treatment and the ability to modify the techniques to adapt for the disease and treatment.

According to Richardson, there was a time when massage was considered inadvisable for cancer patients because of the belief that the increased blood circulation of massage would cause cancer cells to travel to other areas and spread the disease.

Research demonstrates that the spread of cancer is more complicated, however, and massage is not expected to increase circulation beyond that which is expected with exercise. Oncologists typically encourage patients to continue their normal daily activities as long as they feel well enough to do so.

At the same time, Richardson advises cancer patients to consult their physician before scheduling a massage, even if they had a history of massage before their diagnosis. Those who follow up with an oncology massage appointment can expect more detailed intake questions, especially ones specific to their treatment; lighter pressure; and sometimes shorter sessions, especially at the beginning.

For more information on the oncology massage therapy provided by Jo Ann Richardson, or to make an appointment with her, call (910) 715-1811.

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