Gentle touch helps ease suffering

Oncology massage is a very gentle and highly specialised therapy which is available to all patients at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, thanks to ongoing support from Dry July.

“She’s the only one who can give me relief,” says patient Bev Douglas. Bev is talking about the specialist oncology massage she receives at the Wellness Centre from oncology massage therapist Bronwyn Hogan.

After being diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2017, Bev underwent multiple and extensive surgeries on her mouth and jaw, landing her in the intensive care unit for ten days and a further five-week stay in hospital. Radiation therapy followed. Bev now lives with chronic pain in her shoulders, neck and head.

“I get to the point where my neck feels like it’s wrapped up with barbed wire,” says Bev. “Bronwyn knows exactly what to do, she has amazing hands and such a gentle touch. It’s a life-saver for me and incredibly beneficial to my quality of life.”

Bronwyn Hogan, highly trained in the specialised skill of oncology massage, describes her observations of Bev, ongoing from when she first met her.

“Bev’s pain can be so severe it impacts her ability to swallow food, it causes headaches and restricts her head and shoulder range of motion,” says Bronwyn. “The result is that Bev cannot enjoy or undertake many aspects of life that she previously considered essential to her wellbeing and quality of life.”

Bev is adamant that her recovery and wellbeing are greatly aided by regular gentle and specialised oncology massage and there are times when she is completely pain-free in her neck and shoulders.

“The massage takes away all the pain up the back of my head and I am able to be virtually pain-free for the next two or three days afterwards,” she says. “I’ve also had lymphodema (swelling in an arm or leg usually caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment) and Bronwyn has been able to help clear some of this and she has also shown me how I can massage the area myself for relief.”

Bronwyn is deeply grateful to Dry July for their support.

“This very special funding from Dry July enables patients like Bev and others with varying degrees of physical, mental and emotional suffering, to find their way back to a better quality of life via a massage-supported recovery.”

Oncology massage at the ONJ Centre exists because of support from Dry July and the wonderful supporters who go ‘dry in July’ to raise funds for these vital programs. We are deeply grateful for the difference you make to patients and their families.


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