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Bowen Therapy, Oncology Massage and Cancer

Bowen Therapy, Oncology Massage and Cancer


Cancer is such a horrible, insidious disease and has managed to slip into the fabric of all of our lives. We have all had something to do with cancer. Whether this disease has touched us personally, through someone we love or in a wider circle – through a friend of a friend.
Sadly it appears to be becoming more prevalent in our society most likely because technology is better and can pick it up far earlier and also our awareness is far greater. It appears that the most common element with cancer is that it does not discriminate.

It can be the most earth shattering experience for so many friends and families or a revelation into the most amazing life-changing journey of personal growth and discovery.

I have had my own scare recently, which forced me to take stock of my lifestyle and the changes I needed to make.


I am an advocate for trying to maintain a healthy body in both the physical, mental and emotional sense as much as you can. I strongly believe our attitudes and stress levels can be detrimental to our health. Our body produces and releases stress hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) to help us cope with everyday stress. Although there is no direct evidence to confirm a link between stress and cancer; it is known that stress does impact our immune system. When the immune system is compromised it will present with headaches, flu, depression, anxiety or trouble sleeping. It is widely understood that if we are not coping with stress adequately, our lifestyle choices may be impacted. Perhaps through emotional eating, smoking more, or not exercising. And it is these lifestyle choices that can lead to the likelihood of developing some form of cancer. Personally, I believe a weakened immune system can increase the risk factor of developing cancer. I also believe that our state of mind can also affect our immune system. If we are happy, our immune system will also be healthy. The power of the mind is an awesome and powerful tool for our health and well-being.

My own personal experience gave me pause to reflect. I started thinking about the many positive benefits of Bowen Therapy. It is only natural that, when faced with a likely prediction of cancer you will contemplate the future and how you may overcome obstacles thrown in your path. This experience gave me the opportunity to again study the many positive benefit of the specialised Oncology Massage and the variation of Bowen bodywork techniques I incorporate into massage.

And this time it was from a different perspective. Yet again, I researched the effects of massage and cancer. It reinforced to me just how beneficial healing touch through massage is. As a massage therapist trained in Bowen techniques and qualified Oncology Massage I understand how important Massage is in reducing anxiety.

I do want to reassure you the effects of massage and cancer have been researched and as yet there is NO evidence so far to suggest that it will spread cancer.

The Cancer Council of NSW writes:

‘….While massage doesn’t treat the cancer itself, it may help reduce the side effects caused by conventional treatments and improve quality of life and wellbeing.’ You can for your own peace of mind read all about their viewpoints on using massage as an effective tool to combat anxiety for cancer sufferers.

A myriad of studies are starting to take place into the effectiveness of massage and cancer as well as the effects of stress and cancer. From what I can gather, there is evidence to suggest a strong link between cancer as a pre-existing condition and amplified stress increasing metastaticity in some cancers.

We know the potential side-effects of stress on a normal healthy body. It stands to reason that an already compromised immune system will potentially suffer more.

Massage and the healing power of touch

I also found an interesting article written by Sandra Gustafson that reinforces my own personal beliefs of Bowen Therapy and the effective relationship it can provide as a form of relief for pain management for those suffering cancer pain. The article was found on the Bowen Training Australia website. In it Sandra is quoted as saying “Compassionate touch is essential for humans to thrive emotionally, physically and mentally, especially during illness and times of distress. It reduces pain, tension, nausea, anxiety and physical discomfort, and improves self-esteem, a sense of wellbeing and calm.” An excerpt of the her original article can be found Originally published in the June 2015 issue of Bowen Hands, The Journal of the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia.
After reading her article I am again blown away by the importance of touch and how it can be so beneficial, especially in times of turmoil, pain, and uncertainty. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
We all need it and our bodies naturally crave it from when we are born.
In times of illness, someone professionally trained to give healing touch can make an enormous difference to a person’s outlook and recovery.
So lets start this wonderful New Year by taking a moment to breathe, smile, be grateful for all we are and have, and make a resolution to be happy.

Best Wishes for the year ahead.







  1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/stress-fact-sheet#q2
  2. Cancer Council of NSW (CCNSW). (2014). Types of massage and touch therapies. Retrieved online on February 6, 2014 at http://cancercouncil.com.au/18124/b1000/massage-and-cancer-42/massage-and-cancer-different-types-of-therapies/
  3. http://bowentraining.com.au/generalinfo/bowenwork-people-living-cancer
  4. http://www.americanbowen.academy/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2015_June_Bowenwork_People_Living_with_Cancer_Author_Sandra_Gustafson_pp9.pdf
  5. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987?pg=1
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15336336

Author Info

Toni Nicol Therapies offers holistic healing and relaxation using Bowen Therapy and Massage. Clients from as far afield as Christmas Creek, Lamington to the Tweed utilise Toni's tailored bodywork treatment plans to promote general health and well-being.