Monday, March 1, 2010

no full body massage if you've had a tumour?

THE SICK PATIENT: It's been a bit of an information overload day. Most distressing of all was when I asked about the girl who had been so sweet to me, chatting the oncology centre, wanting to know what cancer I had and talking about how her treatment for melanoma wasn't working too well. She was really attractive and young but did not realise until today that she is 24. She is dying. Last time I was there I asked about her and was told she had pneumonia from the compromised immune system and was in hospital. Oh, she has recovered from that but ... they phoned her husband while I was there and he apparently said she is alive but very bad. Cannot walk. Her mother had come out from the UK and he thinks it's time she went to hospice. The nurse told me that it had spread to her brain and lungs and she had had to stop the radiation when it didn't work, and then had to stop the IV chemo when that didn't work either. I am very upset. A very pretty, very sweet, very friendly girl - "one of the nicest ones said the receptionist" - and now she is dying.
On my way into the centre today bumped into a friend of a friend. Had heard last night she had had a lumpectomy and was starting chemo today. Well she does not need to have chemo, just radiation, she said, but when I said she was lucky, she didn't seem to hear me. She is so angry. Angry she has cancer and angry cos the radiation oncologist she is seeing told her: You could have a heart attack - all the treatment is on the left and it's going to affect your lungs.... (doctor sounds like a rude nightmare).I was told that these days they do everything to avoid such damage but then again, have been banned from cardio. Was astounded at how angry this woman is about everything and could not remember if I had ever been like that. Asked The Yoga Man who said yes, I was still angry especially about things one should eat/not eat cos I feel I was eating healthily already and that I am also angry cos I won't support things like Shave-athons where people shave their hair off in support of those who have cancer... He said, and this I understand, if you have an accident and are hit by a car, does that mean you're going to stop looking left and right when you cross a road? Good point that, I think.
TUMOURS AND MASSAGE: I was the only one at the oncology centre this afternoon. Don't know why. But anyway, it gave me lots of time to chat to the nurses. And was amazed at what Erica, the head nurse told me. If you have had cancer which involves tumours, as opposed to a blood cancer, then you should not have a full body massage - can have neck or neck massages - and should not use weights, the ones attached to machines, at the gym. Apparently this can cause the tumours to spread.... she said I should ask the oncologist more when I see him again. Luckily I don't like massages but I wonder why I was not told this before. They also told me people come from overseas to see The Tango Man for a second opinion. I do respect him but find this strange...
LYMPHEDEMA AND THE AFFECTED LIMB FEELING FULL: Saw The Lymph Lady today just before I went for the Herceptin treatment. As I saw her at a different venue, she did not have my file with her and so did not measure me. She just did the lymphatic drainage massage and also corrected the massage I do. Anyway, she then said my arm felt fine. How do you know, I asked. Oh, she said, it often/sometimes feels full.... that horrified me.
HERCEPTIN AND EYESIGHT Asked about my eyesight. Is it just cos I am getting older and need glasses or is this treatment affecting my eyesight, I asked. Don't go for an eyetest, yet, said head nurse Erica. Wait a few weeks after you have finished herceptin, and then have your eyes tested. Mmmmm....
Had Herceptin today and so far, hold thumbs, feeling fine.........praying for no bad taste this time but far more importantly, praying that the herceptin works and keeps the cancer away.
WHEN I FINISH HERCEPTIN: All going well, I am scheduled to finish Herceptin at the end of July. That seemed like perfect timing, as my birthday is at the beginning of August and I thought if I have money, I could take leave and go away somewhere nice. Today they explained to me that I have to go for a scan (s) after I finish treatment, and then three weeks to a month later, arrive with my scan(s) and then get the all-clear, please God.
Then I can go around the world, they said. "Haven't you heard of fly now, pay later?" said nurse Emily. Ja, that reminds me of the girl with melanoma. She called everyone "Nurse Erica", "Nurse Emily" and so on. I feel very sad about her.


  1. Re: Tumors and Massage
    This view is an incorrect generalization. Massage is widely used in the most prestigious cancer hospitals. However, it is administered by therapists with specialized training. Appropriately trained therapists are also available in many communities. For complete information go to the website of the Society for Oncology Massage,
    Bruce Hopkins
    Webmaster, S4OM

  2. Thanks Bruce Hopkins of S4OM. Went to the website but I am still unclear as to why conventional massage is bad, even when there is no evidence of disease in the body. Had never heard of this before Monday. Going to ask my oncologist but that is at least a month's wait before I see him again. Don't like massage so it's not as if it is urgent, but super curious eg re reflexology and so on...

  3. I agree with Bruce that the massage message is outdated misinformation. Unless it's contraindicated because of location or size or something, massage should be fine. Many cancer centers, including Memorial Sloan Kettering, offer a cancer certification for massage therapists.