Oncology Massage Therapy: Caring for Clients with Cancer

with Tracy Walton

Thursday-Sunday, May 14-17, 2015
$797 ($250 nonrefundable deposit required)
32 CE hours


This  4-Day Intensive qualifies you to apply for membership in the Society for Oncology Massage, and for listing in their Oncology MT locator service.

As the role of massage therapy in cancer care expands, it is an exciting time to provide oncology massage.  In this intensive course, we combine the art and science of touch to create safe, effective massage sessions for clients with cancer and cancer histories.  In a lively, supportive learning environment, participants learn simple, concrete ways to adapt traditional massage to cancer and cancer treatment.  We practice interviewing, follow-up questions, massage planning, and adapting traditional western massage techniques to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, bone metastasis, vital organ involvement, and lymphedema risk.  We look closely at the dynamics of cancer spread, shining new light on the old myth that massage was contraindicated, and we introduce several approaches for educating the public about this common concern.  Unique positioning and bolstering techniques are introduced for pain relief, sleep support, and overall comfort.  We use guiding principles and practices that can be implemented across a broad spectrum of client presentations (from robust to medically frail), in a variety of massage settings (hospital, private practice, spa or retreat center, franchise or group practice, hospice).

A balanced approach to learning blends lecture, spirited discussion, and hands-on work with client volunteers.  Music, art, and literature help to deepen our understanding of the journey.  Massage therapists leave with essential oncology massage tools:  sample protocols, a client intake form, follow-up questions, visual “decision tree” massage contraindications, a physician communication form, interviewing experience, supervised hands-on practice, and an extensive training manual.

In answer to students’ question, “Will your course prepare me to work with people with cancer?,” our students tell us overwhelmingly that it does.  They turn around and use their training the next day in their private practice, hospital, clinic, franchise, or spa. They tell us they can not only manage the cases we cover in class, but apply the principles and skills they learned to unfamiliar client cases. The information and skills they learn are immediately usable and incredibly valuable to their clients.

Untitled1Tracy Walton, LMT, MS, is a researcher, writer, award-winning educator, and specialist in massage and cancer care.  She is a dynamic voice for the power of touch, and is the author of a textbook, Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy:  a Decision Tree Approach (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins).  Tracy’s column on oncology massage appears regularly in Massage Today. As a researcher, Tracy has worked on NIH (National Cancer Institute)-funded clinical trials involving professional massage and massage by caregivers.  Research partners include the Osher Institute at Harvard Medical School, Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, and Collinge and Associates.  She maintains a bibliography of oncology massage research on her website, www.tracywalton.com. Tracy appears in the film, “Touch, Caring, and Cancer,” massage instruction for caregivers and partners.  She designed curriculum for this inspiring, innovative program, and worked on a large, NIH-funded clinical trial testing the safety and feasibility of its use in home instruction.  She is a frequent contributor to massage therapy publications. Best known for her leadership and teaching in oncology massage therapy, Tracy also taught physiology and pathology at the Muscular Therapy Institute (now Cortiva Institute-Boston) for 13 years.  There, she chaired the science department and served as Academic Dean.  As an educator, she integrates the art, heart, and science of massage therapy.  In her presentations, Tracy warmly welcomes and reaches health care consumers, researchers, health care providers, and massage therapists from all levels of training.  In 2003, the AMTA named her the Teacher of the Year. Tracy holds a master’s degree in biological sciences, with a concentration in biochemistry and cellular physiology.  She received her diploma in therapeutic massage from the Muscular Therapy Institute.