I too would say check with your onc and nurses first as opinion varies enormously. However, this has been my experience if it helps.
I have bone secondaries and lymphoedema in one arm and up into my shoulder/neck area. Having had lymphatic massage when lymphoedema first occured, I was a bad girl and stopped doing it myself at home. Then last year it was really bad and I was getting back stiffness so I asked a Polish girl who had come to sort my partner's ankles and knees out to have a look after I explained the situation. She had worked in Polish hospitals for over 10 years in their physio type of departments and they believe in giving deeper massage in these cases!Think they work on the belief that the toxins are flushed out of your body and not left to build up which seems logical to me.
Anyway, I got her to do my back where she could pinpoint my mets without me telling her and eased all my knotted muscles that appear as a result. She also did my arm and shoulder which was quite painful I have to say but OMG the results have been fabulous. My shoulder/neck was the worst she had ever seen and now you wouldn't particularly notice. She comes almost every week and the results have been maintained plus it gives me a bit of pamper time - always good for the soul!!
When I saw my surgeon before Xmas he said my shoulder looked better and what had I been doing so I told him and he approved and then I told my onc what I was doing and she said fine too. One of the sisters on the onc unit where I go for monthly bone drip said that the train of thought about the cancer spreading was an old one and they didn't go along with it now.
Hope this helps a bit. Must say that the girl who comes to me is fully qualified and obviously has the experience from Polish hospitals.
I think advice does vary enormously.
Regarding your fear about the lymph system, it's worth noting that breathing deeply and walking also do that but not something anyone recommends avoiding. Clearly you wouldn't want any massage that included your under arms or near the breast area. If you've had lymph nodes removed then also not touching that arm (due to lymphodema risk).
I have mild lymphodema as I had nodes removed from under my arm so actually now have to do a light lymph drainage massage every day to help the lymph flow and exercises to stimulate the lymph system.
During treatment I had very painful back and shoulders and asked my Onc if I could have a massage. He actually said it would be a good idea. I had massage before, during and post treatment. I had lighter massage during chemo.
This info from Macmillan might reassure you:
Also this from the American site breast cancer org where someone queries exactly this:
I would recommend seeing someone who specialises solely in massage as opposed to going to a beauty salon or even some spas. You may get an excellent massage at one of those but that hasn't been my experience. I've gone for massage therapists who deal with a wide range of clinical problems.
If you feel happier then check with your Onc first.
take care, elinda x
Thanks for all the good avise, I am surpised but guess it makes sense, stimulating the lymphatic system. Since I have cancer in the lypmh nodes, I think I better give this a miss. I thought it was a silly question but I see it def wasn't.
I'll ask the clinic nurse specialist on tuesday about it, but no matter what she says I better leave it.
Also good to know re the lavendar as my BC is ER positive.
RevCat yes, I have maggie's near me.
As some others said, check with your oncology team or BCN. I went to a spa and had a facial and eye lift and still had to provide a doctors note to say that I could have the treatments. I have had a few massages through my local hospital cancer support centre but this started 5 months after I finished chemo. You do have to be careful as some treatments including massage and facials stimulate the lymphatic system. Reputable therapists will ask you to complete a medical questionnaire before they treat you and will refuse treatment when you declare a cancer diagnosis x x
Certain essential oils , including lavender may mimic oestrogen in there effect, so if ur cancer is oestrogen positive, lavender should be avoided.
My daughter is studying beauty therapy and they have been told that body massage for cancer patients is a no no. U can have reflexology or a hand massage however.
Hope this helps
What's the story about lavendar being a 'no no'. I love the smell of lavender and put lavender gell on my forehead before i go to sleep at night. Is it harmful?
Hi Christine, just to confrim what the others have said really.
Is there a Maggie's centre near you? They may have specially trained people who can do a light massage with safe oils... I too was told lavender is a 'no-no'. Otherwise some hopsices will also do massages for people being treated for primary cancers.
Hi Christene - I would check with nurse first. I was told only to have a very light aromatherapy massage. This was done for me as a treatment at the cancer unit.
Not a silly question at all! My husband booked me some spa weekends during chemo as something to look forward to - but when I got to the first one they refused to give me any treatments! Not until 5 years clear... I called the other spa and their policy was the same. Basically some beauty therapists say that massage stimulates the lymphatic system and could cause the cancer to spread. However, most oncologists and medical professionals say that's rubbish. Many cancer centres offer massages due to the therapeutic benefits and some therapists will still massage if you have a letter from your onc. However, take caution over the oils used. I think lavender is a no go on chemo - not sure of any others.
Hope you do have a lovely, relaxing massage. I know I could do with one...!!
I don't see that it is a problem, but you may need to check with her that she will do it. Sometimes they will not touch people having cancer treatment, I can't see why, we need it more than most!
Besides we are having chemo, killing all those cells and I don't think a massage would move them on.
Enjoy- great idea I think.
If there is a silly question this one must be it ... I'm just stiff and tense round my shoulders and there is a girl who does house calls and does neck and shoulder massage and I was fancying that since months, before DX. Still would love to have one, but now wondering if it could be harmful? i think along the line that she might loosen some cancer cells and they travel round the body looking for mischief. I haven't got cancer in my neck or shoulder but my mind is playing with me ....