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Massage therapy may reduce side effects

The Feb. 25 Wellness Wednesday, held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Children’s Hospital lobby will present two topics:  Sign up for a presentation about healthy lifestyle tips and become eligible for a drawing for an American Heart Association blanket and cooler on wheels; and receive a free massage from masseuses from the MUSC Wellness Center.

by Ashli Golden
Massage Therapist
At any given moment, there are a handful of people in your life that have had some sort of relationship to cancer.   
Whether an individual has leukemia as an infant, lymphoma as a child or discovers breast or prostate cancer as an adult, there is a prognosis set up by health care professionals to help patients and their families survive this consuming condition. Alongside the  treatment track, such as chemotherapy and radiation, doctors have increasingly found benefits for managing  symptoms of cancer through massage therapy. 
In order to understand the comfort that massage brings for a patient with cancer, one must understand the depths of this disease. 
First, cancer is a term for the disease in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. There are several main types of cancer.  Carcinomas begin in the skin or in the tissues that line or cover internal organs. Sarcomas are cancers that begin in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels or any other connective tissue. Leukemia starts in the bloodforming tissues and bone marrow by producing a large number of abnormal blood cells that can enter the blood stream. Lymphomas and multiple myelomas are cancers that begin in the immune system. Finally, there are central nervous system cancers that begin in brain tissue and spinal cord.
The battle lasts different lengths of time for each patient, so types of treatment vary just as much as the disease. Symptoms, on the other hand, are somewhat similar for most patients with the most common being apathy, anxiety, depression, nausea, trouble sleeping, and pain. The inability to get comfortable is also a common symptom and in combination with other difficulties results in a decreased quality of life. This is where a massage therapist may come alongside as a caregiver and offer a benefit to both the patient and the family.
The benefits of massage are numerous in all systems of the body, but are especially important in the lymphatic and immune systems, which are affected in the cancer patient.
A 2004 study at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, one of the nation’s leading cancer centers, showed that the symptoms of cancer patients dramatically improved with the use of massage. During a three year period, more than 1,200 patients were treated using massage and showed an approximate 50 percent reduction in their scores for symptoms such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, and depression.  In a world dominated by allopathic means of controlling disease, it is nice to know that comfort for symptoms can be found at the touch of one’s fingertips.

The Culprit and the Cure
“The Culprit and the Cure” is a book about why lifestyle is the culprit behind America’s poor health and how transforming that lifestyle can be the cure. The book has information about why people should  strive for good nutrition and increased physical activity.
Employees may schedule a brief presentation during their staff meetings about healthy lifestyles. Employees attending the staff meetings will receive a copy of “The Culprit and the Cure.” Presentations can be scheduled at Wellness Wednesdays or by calling 792-1245.

Friday, Feb. 20, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.