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How I benefitted from massage for cancer patients

When Virgil Anderson was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, he found great support from the Patient Advocates at, who, amongst other things, introduced him to the nurturing properties of massage for cancer patients.

massage for cancer patients

Virgil’s exposure to asbestos came from working in demolition and excavating since high school. When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, he needed immediate medical attention. He found a few websites claiming to help people the condition, but nobody got back to him until he found

As a result of their website, he is now being treated at the National Cancer Institute, while the Patient Advocates even provided him with financial assistance so he could afford a place to live during his chemotherapy (Virgil lives in the United States).

Here he shares his experience with, and explains the role that massage for cancer patients has had in supporting his body through treatment…

“Massage is a wonderful way for people to relax, unwind, and eliminate stress. Anyone who has had a professional massage understands how great it feels both in the moment, and often for days later. However, the power of massage transcends these benefits and extends to clients with special health needs including patients battling mesothelioma and other types of cancer.

Oncology massage is a specialty that some massage therapists have been trained in. For someone like me, living with cancer, the benefits of massage for cancer patients can be life changing.

Relief from some of the symptoms of cancer treatment

The treatments used to fight cancer are tough. Chemotherapy in particular causes a lot of side effects. One of the most common of these is nausea, which in turn can cause vomiting, appetite loss and weight loss. In my experience, massage for cancer patients can help to reduce those feelings of nausea and help you to better tolerate the treatment.

A healthy outlet for negative emotions

All regular clients of good massage therapists know that massage can melt away feelings of stress and worry. For cancer patients these feelings become a way of life; they are at risk for depression, anxiety, and a lot of stress. Again, for me massage proved to be a wonderful mood booster and has really been helping me to cope with the negative feelings that come with cancer and its treatment.

Drug-free pain management

Studies in oncology massage have found that regular massage sessions can help to manage pain in cancer patients. I know all too well that pain is a common symptom of cancer and a side effect of its treatments. It can range from mild to severe and understandably, painkillers become part of the daily routine in a quest to find relief. With massage, the pain isn’t eliminated, but it does give you a chance to use lower the doses of drugs and to get a little relief naturally.

Greater mobility

By reducing pain and working on sore muscles, massage therapists can help you to recover some mobility. The pain and fatigue of cancer can make you simply want to stay immobile, stay at home, and avoid activities, which has the added impact of resulting in isolation. I often find myself feeling that way, but with oncology massage it gives me a little boost to propel myself out of bed and back into life for a little while.

A better quality of life

Not all benefits of oncology massage can be quantified. Many people receiving this kind of complementary therapy report an overall feeling of improved wellness and a generally higher quality of life at a tough time. I know from personal experience that there is some pain relief to be found in it, and that it helps to manage the onset of depression and anxiety. I am better able to sleep at night and have the capability and energy to do a little more and see a few more people as a result of it, and for that I am extremely thankful.


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