I tend to be a very outspoken person, it often gets me in trouble. But sometimes it pushes me to do better. After massage school, the first year I had 6 cancer clients. One bone, one kidney, the rest were breast. I didn’t have much of a oncology class, in fact, I don’t remember the class at all, except to be careful and get a doctor note. I was terrified of hurting all of them.
So I thought to myself, omg, I’m going to have a ton of people with cancer, I need to know more. I knew we had a cancer center here and from what I’ve been told, it is wonderful, the nurses, the oncologists, everyone. But they don’t have anyone massaging chemo patients, or have any oncology LMT’s on staff, at least that I could get any information on. (I really hope to change this)
Anyway, I just knew I had to get more education. So I did. I tend to seek out the best, because if you’re going to pay for it, get the best. I found Tracy Walton’s class Oncology Massage Therapy: Caring for Clients with Cancer, I was not disappointed. The class changed everything I thought I knew and effected me deeply. I was shocked at what I didn’t know and grateful that I could now massage someone safely and have continuing tools that would allow me to find information on medical situations that may come up in future massage sessions.
What happened when I came home took me by surprise. I was so excited about oncology massage, I sought out spas and LMT’s who advertised they do oncology massage, what I found out, shocked and angered me.
The attitude of the spa I spoke to was, (and I am not kidding and yes I am furious and no I won’t be mentioning their name) we don’t have an oncology trained LMT on staff right now, (but they do advertise oncology massage as a service) but if we have a client with cancer we put them with someone who is comfortable with massaging them. (Oh but you charge the client $100 and they believe the LMT is properly trained?)
I’m wicked angry that people don’t realize that cancer patients can actually BE HURT if they are massaged incorrectly. I’m angry that we have this amazing cancer center and no one is massaging people while they are getting chemo. I’m angry that hospice is up the road and there is no money for the patients to receive massage thru that program. (AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!) (this is where my head explodes a bit)
I hear it all the time, my friend has cancer, I’m getting them a spa day. I cringe. I think omg…they will go, they will say I need deep pressure I’m so sore. Their LMT won’t know better, they will do it. The client will go home and maybe be ok, maybe not. Maybe vomit, maybe swell, maybe get lymphedema. Chances are they may not even realize the massage may have caused it. They may not even know to tell their LMT they are going thru treatment!!
The attitude of a couple of the LMTs I spoke to were “oh yes I do oncology” me, “oh wonderful, where did you study?” them “oh just what I got in school” me, “don’t you think perhaps you should get more education if you’re going to advertise you’re doing oncology so that you don’t hurt someone?” them, “well yeah, probably”.
Note I said “a couple” but a couple can leave a bad taste, some can cause real damage. A few are the reason people who need massage don’t get it again, because they get hurt. Not to mention a high end spa that trusted clients go to expecting their LMT’s to be trained and educated in the modality they are paying for. This really grinds my gears.
Massage is supposed to be healing, not hurtful. And the thing is, its not their fault, they just don’t know, I didn’t know, until now…
Now that I know, I’m going to be telling people. That means you, and you, and yes you.
So I guess anger got me here. That and my desire to bring massage to the cancer centers/hospice/nursing facilities in my area. Because the cities around us have them. It angers me that the people around here don’t. My friends, my family, my neighbors, my people, deserve massage when they are feeling terrible. When they are hooked up to iv, when they are lying in bed, when they don’t want to move, when they are depressed, angry, sad, they should have that loving therapeutic calm touch from a massage therapist.
What do I do when I get angry? I don’t yell, scream, or fight. (thats a lie, I totally yell, but not at anyone, usually in my car where no one can hear me) (here’s where I tell you I’m a horrible liar, I will basically write something, then immediately tell the truth)
Anyway, after I yell in my car, cuss, whatever, I try to find a way to fix the problem. So the spa that I spoke to, I dropped off a ton of information from the Society for Oncology Massage Therapists including the SOAP notes (that is the intake form their LMTs should be using for their clients with cancer) and gave it to their director and asked her to take a look at it so that when they do oncology massage they will have a better idea of what they should be asking and looking for!! Progress!! Less Anger! Do no harm!
My peers that are doing oncology but are not trained same thing. I gave them handouts on what they should be asking and looking for. They soon realized it was a little more than they thought and asked more questions! I love questions! Ask away!! Let me tell you more!!! Let me show you some bolstering, and here let’s do this so that if you get someone you can be sure you are safe and so are they, because honestly I do love you (even when you make me angry).
And then I think, I really don’t have a right to be angry, because 6 months ago…I didn’t know either. Guess what? I still don’t know a ton, so I’m still searching, reading, studying and yes more school. Always more.
What else am I doing? Talking, talking talking. To everyone. Because to me, this is so important. I want people with cancer to get massage. I want them to get that touch, that care, to be taken care of. But I also want them to be safe and not harmed. So I’m also talking to students of massage, recent grads, LMT’s and asking them, do you want to study oncology? I know an excellent program. We need more LMT’s in this area who are trained to do this kind of massage, and we need it now.
I have no idea what I’m doing with this website stuff, or the blog stuff, or the marketing stuff. I’m signed up to take the MLD class in RI in April, that I can do. The rest I’m getting help with. I’m asking for names of the oncologists, the nurses, who to talk to, because when it’s all done, when the schools are finished and I have all the handouts, the pamphlets all the information, and my ducks in a row.
I’m going to Guthrie, Arnot, St Joes and Hospice. I’m just going to do what I can, for who I can, when I can.
I’m doing this for Aunt Marlene, Aunt Gert, Marina, Tracy, Willie, Brownie, Bev, Owen, Lola, Chris, Joy, Jackie, Judy, Kim, Maureen, Jerry, Moms, Dads, Grams, Pops, nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors, the kid up the street, the lady down the road, my friends husband, my coworker. For the ones that have gone thru it and the ones going thru it.
I really hope you’ll be patient with me, because I am learning. I hope you’ll forgive me for my anger, my loud mouth, my urgency. This may be your first time hearing all this, it’s my first time writing about it, doing a website and trying to teach people about it. If you have a suggestion or idea of how I can do it better please shoot me a text, a phone call or an email, I’m always thankful for help!
I am, and always have been a work in progress.