Fighting cancer is a difficult prospect.  In addition to the side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment, many cancer patients also fight fatigue, pain, depression and changes in appetite as routine symptoms of their illness.  Complimentary therapies can help alleviate some of these symptoms and help cancer patients cope more effectively.

Massage Therapy

According to the American Cancer Society, one of the best alternative or complimentary therapies for cancer patients is massage therapy. Whether a person has mesothelioma, colon cancer or lung cancer, massage therapy can help reduce fatigue, fight stress and improve symptoms of depression.

Massage is the process of manipulating and stroking muscles and skin, releasing tension throughout the body.  Deep tissue massage manipulates muscles and tendons deep below the surface of the skin.  Light touch massage involves gently stroking the surface of the skin and often induces feelings of relaxation.  Other massage techniques include Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, and neuromuscular therapy.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is provided by therapists with specialized training in this modality of complimentary medicine.  Through the use of many different types of medium, patients are encouraged to explore and express the feelings and emotions that they are experiencing.  For many cancer patients, art therapy is an effective method to address feelings of anxiety and depression.

Art therapy is also an excellent way to document your journey and progress through cancer.  It is not necessary to be an exceptional artist. For some patients, this is a more accessible approach to exploring the source of depression and anxiety than words. By looking back over their art, they may gain insight into their own emotional process throughout the course of their illness.

Prayer and Spirituality

For many cancer patients, finding a spiritual practice is extremely important in their fight with cancer.  There are many forms of spirituality that are effective for cancer patients as a source of hope for the future.  For many people, finding a place where they turn to something larger than themselves provides prospective about their illness and their life.

Spirituality can take the form of joining a prayer group, attending regular services, or individual meditation.  What is important is a person’s connection to a sense of divine purpose and solace.  Frequently, cancer patients find that prayer and meditation help relieve feelings of depression and anxiety. They report feeling more relaxed and hopeful for the future after regular prayer or meditation. It can also be important in pain management and improving blood pressure.

Using complimentary therapies can make fighting cancer more manageable.  Many cancer patients find that using approaches such as massage therapy, art therapy, and meditation helps them fight fatigue, anxiety, and depression.  They may also find that they are better able to tolerate chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  Fighting cancer is a difficult thing.  If you are able, use every approach possible to  improve your quality of life for a positive outcome and to maintain hope for yourself and your family.

About the Author: 

Melanie Bowen joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. Melanie also assists in social media outreach in her efforts to spread awareness.

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