Maggie Wittchen was among the first patients to be treated to a relaxing massage thanks to an expanded oncology massage service at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC).
Maggie, who was recently admitted to hospital for five days of continuous chemotherapy treatment for Lymphoma, said massage provided extra comfort to her and other cancer patients.
“Massage is a lovely idea – it’s definitely soothing and helps me to relax,” Maggie said.
In a state-first, patients admitted to FMC’s cancer ward (Ward 5G) are able to receive hand, foot, neck and body massages from an oncology qualified remedial massage therapist to help ease some of the symptoms associated with their disease.
Oncology Massage Therapist Andrea Cornish visits the ward twice a week to provide massage for patients who are unwell or receiving inpatient treatment.
“This very light touch therapy can really improve the quality of life for people with a history of cancer,” Andrea said.
“Research has shown that gentle massage may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of chemotherapy treatment, including pain, nausea, depression, anxiety, fatigue and neuropathy - sometimes by up to 60 per cent.
“There’s also evidence that it can help with shortness of breath, memory problems and disturbed sleep.”
The oncology massage service has been provided to patients receiving chemotherapy in the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer Infusion Suite since 2014, but this is the first time massage is available at a patient’s bedside.
The expansion of this service has been made possible thanks Flinders Foundation and a $32,000 grant from the Dry July Foundation – a campaign which encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of July and raise funds for cancer patients and their families and carers.
Cancer Ward Clinical Services Coordinator Avis Glenn said the massage service would greatly improve patients’ wellbeing:
“We often have patients here for days, sometimes weeks, so massage not only helps with alleviating some pain but also provides a good distraction and someone else to talk to,” she said.
“It’s also really valuable that Andrea can now visit our patients in their beds for massage, without them having to venture far.”