“In the world we live in,” says massage therapist and Cinco Vidas expert, Jean Lazar, “we’re so full of stress. To feel good has become the exception rather than the norm.”
A sobering observation, but if you take a moment to think about it, you realize it’s true. If you’re going through cancer treatment-or caring for someone who is-you may find “feeling good” to be an even rarer experience. Yet it’s during challenging times that feeling good becomes even more important. According to life coach Carol King, “If you want to change your circumstances, you must change your feelings. If you want to change your feelings, change the stimulus that you subject yourself to.” In other words, if all you come in contact with day after day are doctors, hospitals, medications, treatments, traffic, news, work, and responsibility, how can you hope to sustain health and happiness in your life?
“Stress is the biggest killer,” says Lazar. “The body has the ability to heal itself, but stress hinders that ability. The body tightens up, traps toxins, and creates painful knots in your muscles. Massage loosens the muscles, releases toxins, and when you drink water, flushes those toxins out. In essence, it gives you back the strength you need to heal.” By increasing circulation, boosting the immune system, easing the breath, reducing pain, and shutting down stress and anxiety, massage strengthens your body’s ability to fight disease. But it’s not just about the end result.
“We’ve been hearing so much about living in the ‘now,’” says Lazar. “To be truly happy, we’re learning to savor the moment, to find joy in the present.” However, when battling cancer, we often resign ourselves to feeling miserable, hoping for some day in the future when the disease will be gone, the tumor healed, and our bodies returned to “normal.” This kind of thinking steals our lives away from us. None of us can predict the future-or change the past-but we can find happiness today. Lazar, with over 10 years experience, has seen massage create that kind of happiness time and time again.
“I worked with a man in his 60s who had been exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam war,” she says. “It caused cancer, and damaged the nerve endings in his feet. He could barely walk, and described the sensation as walking on needles and pointed rocks. I spent an hour with him, giving him a foot and leg massage. The next week when I arrived at his home, he was ecstatic. He told me he had gone from walking on needles to ‘walking on cotton,’ and the feeling had lasted for two days.” She could tell by the smile on his face that the ability to walk without pain had encouraged him, and changed his outlook on the future-certainly worth the investment in an hour of massage!
If you’re looking for a good therapist in your area, Lazar recommends finding those who are licensed and nationally certified by the American Massage Therapy Association at www.amtamassage.org. (Click on “find a massage therapist.”) “Ask them if they’re afraid of cancer. If they hum and haw and stumble around, say ‘thank you very much’ and hang up. It’s a great way to cut to the chase and find out if this person has the knowledge and experience you need.”
Check also, to be sure the therapist uses natural, toxin-free creams and oils. “Medications and cancer treatments are so hard on the skin. Massage with a good lubricant just brings it back to life. My clients are always amazed.”
If you haven’t tried massage, consider it, or anything else that will help you and your body to feel good. As author Michael Miles writes, “Feeling good is so important-in a sense, it’s the whole point of being alive. So don’t waste time on negativity. Take control!”
Have you experienced the benefits of massage? Please share your experiences.
Note: To learn more about Jean Lazar and her book, Their Last Painting, go to www.jeanlazar.com.
Photo courtesy of wolfeandrew61 via Flickr.com