More than Massage: Helping to Heal Cancer Survivors

The Big Blue Dragon Boat Race benefiting breast cancer awareness and research concluded in the summer, but its affects are still being felt by one Globe alumnus. Massage Therapy Program Chair Holly Kaiser arranged the opportunity for several alumni who volunteered to provide chair massages for participants in the Dragon Boat Races.

“I thought that this would be a great opportunity for our alumni to support this cause and for us, as a college, to support our graduates,” she said. “The event gave our alumni the chance to introduce themselves, and their businesses, to the public.”

Holly Kaiser provides a massage

Alumnus Rebecca Felten, who graduated with her associate degree in massage therapy in 2012, was happy to help participants; she felt it was important to volunteer at an event supporting cancer patients and survivors.

Rebecca, who graduated with an associate degree in massage therapy, noted that there are many ways massage can benefit cancer patients.

“I have given massages to a client who had an amputation due to cancer,” she said. “Massage can really help with phantom pain as massage is a mind-body therapy.”

Rebecca is especially interested in manual lymph drainage and bodyworks therapies, and would like to help educate the medical community and patients about the benefits of these types of massages.

Rebecca noted, “In Europe, massage is a much more common treatment and is more recognized for its potential to heal.”

While medical practices in the United States have started to incorporate massage more into treatment plans, there is still much to learn. “There isn’t a lot of education about manual lymph drainage therapies in the medical community,” Rebecca said. “Patients are often not told about self-care or precautions if they have had lymph nodes removed.”

To learn more about the benefits of lymph drainage massage, Rebecca continued her education after graduating. Currently, she is studying lymphatic drainage more intensely, particularly the massage therapy training of Dr. Bruno Chikly, who has performed award-winning studies on the lymphatic system.

Rebecca’s hands at work

Rebecca has incorporated this into her own practice, where she specializes in “Lymph Drainage Therapy combined with whole body balance.”

During the Blue Dragon Boat Races, Rebecca and other volunteers gave chair massages to a long line of participants. The ten minute chair massages were enough to ease the strain of participants, and enough time for Rebecca to make connections.

“Chair massage is not just about finding tight areas and pushing them out,” she said. “It’s about ministering to people, getting to know them and their emotional state.”