The Massage

The Benefits of Massage

One of my favorite things to do before my breast cancer diagnosis was to get a massage.  Whether it be the soft wind driven experience of an open air kneading on a sultry Caribbean beach, or tucked into the magnificence of a long hot stone rub down at a five star spa or enjoying the communal splashiness of NYC's Spa Castle, I have and always will enjoy a massage.

Now, as a breast cancer patient, who have had lymph nodes removed, undergone chemo and is in the final stages of breast reconstruction, getting a massage is a little bit trickier.  I've got to watch the amount of pressure applied to certain areas and need to be secure that the massage therapist can execute a enjoyable experience, without leaving me in worse shape than when I walked in the door.  What I needed was a massage therapist who has received training in Oncology Massage.

Oncology Massage - is the modification of existing massage therapy techniques, in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment. Essential aspects of oncology massage skill set are an informed understanding of the disease and the many ways it can affect the body such as medications, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
— Society for Oncology Massage

Luckily, (after receiving a well placed tip, shout out to D. Walker @ SHARE Harlem) I was able to book an appointment at the Center for Advancement of Therapeutic Arts (CATA)  in NYC's Flatiron District.  But the real caveat here is the oncology massage services are free of charge for anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer.  That's right, I received a hour long massage for free!

So here's the deal, CATA is a board certified continuing education provider for massage therapists, who have already been working in their field and want to obtain certification in the specialized field of oncology massage.  In addition CATA provides workshops that cover Thai, sports, orthopedic, head & neck, gastro and asthma massage, as well as a number of other workshops and clinics associated with the body, and well being.  Massage therapists have a number of required hours that have to be spent applying the techniques that they've acquired, and that's how they are able to provide the services free of charge. 

The CATA facilities are warm, clean and efficient.  Clients are required to fill out a 8 page medical history form, that provides a picture of specifics that include diagnosis, surgeries, treatments, limitations, devices, range of motion, side effects, medications, emergency contacts and lifestyle to help the massage therapist understand exactly what each clients needs are and how it should be incorporated into the oncology massage. 

After filling out the forms and sitting down for a short 1:1 review with a my massage therapist, I was escorted into a quiet sanctuary where I settled onto a table, and received a heavenly full body massage for an hour.  Oh yeah, I was so relaxed that I fell asleep.  After my session,  my massage therapist discussed my range of motion and suggested stretches I could do to specifically address my issues.  Quite frankly, it was one of the best massages I've ever received, and I've had a few.

For more information about CATA or booking a special oncology massage (for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer) check out the link below.