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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Oncology Massage Provides Comfort for Cancer Patients

Jun 02, 2015 11:21PM ● By Rebecca Hanlon

Keith Beighley, LMT

People seek out a massage therapist for many reasons, but most want to leave feeling relaxed, comfortable and ready for whatever comes next. Finding that state of relaxation can be difficult for cancer patients and survivors, according to Keith Beighley, LMT, owner of Comprehensive Massage Therapy, in Lemoyne.

Seeing the need to provide comfort to those going through or having completed cancer treatments, Beighley started offering oncology massage earlier this year. “A lot of the techniques are similar, but there’s a greater awareness of how the position on the table or the given pressure can make the person feel,” he says. “By being aware of the cancer and treatments given, I can make the session feel safe for the person coming to see me.”

Beighley has received mixed recommendations from different sources for how to help cancer patients. Because the topic of cancer and massage was only covered briefly while he was in massage school in 1996, he decided to go to a trusted source and become better informed about what he could offer his clients. Joining the Society for Oncology Massage has allowed him to stay informed about new topics related to cancer and massage therapy, and being a member also puts him on a resource list for patients seeking that type of service.

Beighley initially inquires about a client’s medical history on an intake form that new clients are asked to fill out. Here, they can note past surgeries or other medical procedures. He also tries to keep up with what’s going on with regular clients by asking if they’ve experienced any medical changes. Some people going through cancer treatments have commented on the way their bodies change overall.

“People might note a discomfort in an area where they receive treatment specifically, but for many cancer patients, the change is felt throughout their entire body,” says Beighley. “People with cancer might not be able to take a deep tissue massage.” In that case, he tries to incorporate a gentler therapy for those that are more sensitive.

Beighley encourages anyone with cancer or that has previously had cancer to educate themselves about what might make them feel better. He encourages those that think a massage would be beneficial to be open about their situation and ask questions to find which options are right for their needs. “I try to focus on how the person wants to feel when they leave their massage session,” says Beighley. “If I can help them feel relaxed or more comfortable, then I think I’ve done my job.”

Comprehensive Massage Therapy is located at 23 N. 8th St., in Lemoyne, PA. For more information, call 717-730-9222 or visit

Rebecca Hanlon is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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