Maryanne Losurdo has been a valuable part of KSG for over 15 years. Outside of the office, she dedicates her spare time to Massage Therapy and is passionately involved in Oncology Massage which has been a “gentle touch” for those suffering from Cancer. Maryanne is here to share some of her valuable knowledge regarding Oncology Massage.

I’m Maryanne Losurdo, a Credit and Account Manager for KSG.   I am also a qualified massage therapist and for the past 3 years have been training in Oncology Massage through the national body Oncology Massage Training which now has oncology massage therapists on staff in Austin Hospital in Melbourne and RPA Lifehouse in Sydney.   I have been blessed to be supported by KSG by flexibility in my work hours to continue with this valuable training and talk to the community about cancer and massage, and to dispel a few myths.

Firstly can massage spread cancer?   No, massage cannot spread cancer.

So what is Oncology Massage?  It is a mindful gentle touch massage.  It is not a remedial deep tissue massage, it is a very gentle touch.   A  firm massage can actually make a client feel worse particularly if they have gone through the rigours of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  This is where oncology massage really comes into its own.

Can a client have an oncology massage at any time during their cancer treatment?   Yes.  The massage is adapted to where they are on their cancer journey.   If there are any devices, skin sensitivities, recent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments,  lymph nodes have been removed, all of these things we look at with the client to tailor the session.    Part of our oncology massage training is knowing how to modify a massage to where a client is at in their cancer treatment.

What’s involved in an oncology massage treatment?  There are a range of treatments available to gentle flowing touch to release fascia and muscle restrictions or if the client is really unwell gentle hand holds at specific points on the body can be deeply relaxing.

The treatment can go for 30 minutes to an hour.   The massage strokes are light and slow compared to other massages they may have experienced.  Always we seek to co-create the treatment with the client, checking with them in what areas they are happy and comfortable with us massaging so they are safely in charge.

How Does this gentle touch Work?    A good way to understand how gentle touch works is to have an understanding of fascia.  Fascia is connective tissue in the body.  It is just under the layers of your skin.   Your body has an endless web of connective tissue. Like a stocking that surrounds every muscle, muscle group, blood vessels, nerves, organs and bones.  It connects everything.  It is elastic and moving.

So if you can imagine if you had a scar it is like having a knot in your stocking.  A pull that restricts movement.   In the case of anyone who has had surgery that has extensive scar tissue we are trained to do gentle releases, which release that pulling in the fascia. That release can assist with more ease of movement and improved range of motion.

How can light touch massage be effective compared to remedial?  Within your connective tissue there are nerve fibres, 50% are low threshold receptors and 50% high threshold receptors. The low threshold receptors respond to gentle touch and high threshold receptors respond to strong stimulation.        If your body has gone through cancer treatment, the gentle touch has shown to have more lasting effects without the trauma of strong stimulation.

So light touch is powerful.  The human body responds to mindful, nurturing touch in many ways.  When a client has a massage, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and undoes the “fight or flight” response. The production of adrenaline & cortisol is suppressed.  The body releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that contribute to an overall feeling of pleasure and wellbeing. One of these endorphins is called anandamide, the bliss hormone. This bathes the cells in a nutrient rich environment which enables them to assist their body.   It is a deeply relaxing experience for anyone and often carers greatly benefit from a massage themselves.

Many studies of massage have confirmed its many benefits like improved circulation, strengthened immune system, improved sleep, reduced anxiety & depression, relief of aches and pains, relaxed muscles, lowered blood pressure, lowered heart rate and enhanced sense of well being.

Choosing a Therapist – Where do you go to find a therapist specialist in this area?

There is a website Oncology Massage Training (www.oncologymassagetraining.com.au) which lists the therapists around Australia that have been very well trained by Eleanor Oyston’s program.  We are registered with Breast Cancer Network Australia website and different cancer International websites. The training is very thorough and Eleanor has been involved in getting Oncology Massage on staff in different hospitals as mentioned.

I very passionate about letting people know this treatment is available as the cancer journey can be a very tough period for anyone and if this type of treatment eases some of stress and brings benefits then I’m proud to be involved in this area.

Maryanne Losurdo