A diagnosis of cancer, a course of treatment, the illness or death of a partner or friend can all create shock, fear and confusion. While some people are fortunate and get the support they need from family, friends and community, others feel isolated. Even those surrounded by supportive and loving well-wishers often feel deeply alone. People are often encouraged to “be positive” by their families when they want to express the difficult feelings they have.
Counselling with its combination of understanding, concern and neutrality can help people in this situation. Like a good friend or partner, the counsellor is warm and caring. However, you don’t need to worry about overburdening the counsellor, as you might with a friend or partner. The counsellor is able to bring an objective view to issues; their open-mindedness and impartiality can help you to explore difficult thoughts and feelings without inhibitions.
The benefits of counselling include:
- alleviating feelings of loneliness
- increasing the ability to communicate, improving relationships
- promoting the deeper understanding of emotions
- increasing a sense of control
- providing a fresh perspective and tapping into creativity
- reducing tension and stress
- putting people in touch with their resources of imagination and intuition
- helping people to find meaning in what is happening to them
The Alexander Technique (AT) is a very gentle, non-invasive hands-on practice that teaches you to be more aware of how you move in all daily activities. You can understand where you are holding tension in your body and learn how to reduce it.
The Alexander Technique can improve the quality of everything you do. With an increased awareness you can:
- Reduce acute and chronic pain
- Prevent pain developing
- Be better balanced and coordinated
- Increase your well-being
- Move more lightly and effortlessly
- Be more alert and focused
- Breathe and speak more easily
- Become more calm and confident
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle way of working with the body using light touch. Changes may occur in body, mind and spirit during or after sessions. When a Craniosacral therapist places their hands lightly on you, they are using them to listen to you in much the same way that a counsellor might listen to your words. Your body responds to this sensitive touch by beginning to listen to itself.
The practitioner senses tensions in the body and helps to release them in a supported and comfortable way. During or after a session you may feel calm and energised, with increased clarity of mind and a feeling of well-being.
Hypnotherapy is well-established as a supportive therapy for people with cancer. Sessions start with an explanation of hypnosis to ensure that the patient appreciates that it is simply a way of relaxing the conscious mind (and also the body) so that the unconscious mind can receive beneficial suggestions.
Once the patient has experienced a hypnotic trance they are taught self hypnosis, to be followed by:
- Guided visualisation
- Motivation to develop their inner resources and stimulate their immune system
- Help with building a positive attitude towards any medical treatment in order to reduce unwanted side-effects
- Encouragement to improve their quality of life.
Our experience of massage at the Centre shows that it is a simple, versatile and extremely effective support for people with cancer at all stages of the cancer journey.
Massage has shown itself invaluable in helping people to:
- accept their body as it is
- regain confidence in their body
- become aware of their body in a positive way
- remember what it feels like to find pleasure and enjoyment in their body
Massage can be adapted to suit each person. Just having a face and head massage can bring as many benefits as a more extensive treatment.
The most common response from a client after a massage is “I feel great and so relaxed”. For many clients, having a massage is the first time they actually feel a sense of well-being since the onset of their illness, having had both physical and mental tensions stroked away.
One Centre member has written: “after having an amputation, I was devastated. I felt really low and lost confidence in myself. Massage helped me to put myself back together again”.
The Centre has practitioners offering the following forms of massage: aromatherapy, Swedish, and shiatsu.
Reflexology is a type of massage usually given to the feet, although it can also be given to the hands. The whole body is seen as mapped out on the feet – the right side of the body on the right foot and the left side on the left foot.
The organs or tissues in a particular body zone are linked to reflex points on the feet (or hands) and massage of these points treats the corresponding part of the body. There are differing views as to how reflexology works.
One view is that gentle massage helps to improve blood circulation and stimulates the body’s immune system. Another is that the body’s natural energy flow is blocked by illness or stress, and the reflexologist can feel a change in a particular reflex point that corresponds to the blocked part. Massage to this area can remove the blockage so that energy can flow freely again. A possible effect of reflexology is that massage encourages the body to produce its own painkillers (endorphins), which could lead to fewer painkilling drugs being needed.
If you are living with or recovering from cancer, these therapies can help you to cope with stress and help to reduce physical discomfort. Alexander Technique, craniosacral therapy, hypnotherapy, massage and reflexology are offered as one-to-one sessions at the Centre, Wednesday to Friday.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) for people diagnosed with lymphoedema
MLD is an extremely relaxing treatment where mild pressure and a gentle rhythmic technique is performed directly on the skin on different areas of the body. This helps increase the flow and movement of lymph in your lymphatic system. Fluids are displaced helping to reduce oedemas, fluid retention and swelling.
Each 1hr session will be £45. Please call the Support team to book the first appointment. Most clients with lymphoedema book treatments on a monthly basis.
ScarWork is done primarily to improve feeling and functionality in the scar and surrounding tissues, creating better movement between the layers of the skin, fascia and muscle. Treatments use light hand movements to smooth and flatten scars in order to reduce feelings of tightness, discomfort, sensitivity, itching, and restricted movement. Treatments stimulate the circulation, lymphatic and nervous system to encourage renewed healing and promote tissue health.
Please call our Support Officer for more information and to book an initial appointment on 020 7924 3924 or click here to email us.