Massage Therapy Helps Patients Deal With Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Cancer patients are endorsing an age-old procedure that seems to provide some relief to the common side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments for the disease.

They say a good old-fashioned massage can do the trick.

Julie Lockwood is fighting aggressive luekemia at UCSF Benioff Medical Center in San Francisco. She has endured 11 rounds of chemo and a bone marrow transplant. It has taken a toll.

"On the days the chemo hits, your body is devastated," Lockwood said. "You don't want to eat, don't want to get up; and for me to not want to get up and meet everyone, something is wrong."

Lockwood said the very human treatment of massage therapy feels right.

"When someone comes along to do something just for you that relieves it, you totally want them to realize how important it is," she said.

Massage therapist Tim Cowen said massage can help relieve the harsh side effects of cancer treatment naturally.

"Their digestive system worked better after massage," he said. "So they felt better, more inclined to eat, which goes in sync with nausea reduction."

Bone marrow transplant patients pay $40 for the massage.

Cowen and Dr. Carla Kuon started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for Healing Hands for Cancer Pain."

Kuon said it appears patients who get a massage use less medication to address the side effects of chemo.

"There is a release of endorphins that provides relief from nausea and pain," Kuon said.

The Healing Hands funds won't just provide free massages; they also will fund a study.

Kuon is hoping the results will help make massage part of all of her patients' treatment for free.

As she fights for her life, Lockwood said it's the best medicine she can ask for.

"I truly believe the power of the human touch can heal," she said. "I love my massages."

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