A Guide to Cancer-Safe Treatments by Armathwaite Hall

Armathwaite Hall offers cancer-safe treatments

Armathwaite Hall, which offers cancer-safe treatments, shares its expert guidance on making the most of a spa day for those living with cancer.

Spa experiences are proven to boost our mental and physical wellbeing, but having cancer can complicate this. It has been said that spas aren’t safe for cancer patients but this is an outdated myth. Living with cancer does not have to stop spa experiences and treatments as long as guidelines are followed.

Why does having cancer affect spa treatments and activities?

In the past – and sadly, still to this day – many spas have refused treatments to cancer patients because of a now-conclusively disproven myth that treatments, including massage, can spread cancer cells around the body. And while this is proven to be false, many spa therapists are nervous about offering massages to patients with tumours for fear of causing pain or disturbance.The treatments patients may be undergoing to fight cancer can also affect the spa experience. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can make skin, hair and nails weaker, meaning it is wise to avoid certain treatments and types of products.

The jury is out on steam treatments and hot tubs for cancer patients. Because of increased sensitivity in the skin, some experts recommend avoiding steam rooms and hot tubs because they aggravate the dermis. Others find these environments soothing and relaxing. It is important to note that, while there is talk of sauna therapy treating cancer, there is no evidence of this working.

Cancer-safe massages – the dos and don’ts

Massages offer many mental and physical benefits, and cancer patients deserve to reap the rewards of a relaxing massage. If a type of cancer has formed a solid tumour, it is recommended that when receiving a massage the therapist is informed to avoid the area to avoid it. It is recommended to avoid deep tissue massages too if  experiencing or recovering from cancer.

Massages that use ancient Chinese tuina movements offer an alternative to the constant kneading and pressing associated with general massages. It translates to “pinch and pull” and focuses on rebalancing energy. Masseurs will use a part of their body – generally a foot, knee, finger, hand or elbow – to put force on various hotspots on the body. The notion behind tuina is that it releases tension to unlock channels of qi (positive energy) and allow it to flow freely through the body.

Massage Or Not

For those worried about the potential effects of a massage, there are other treatments to benefit from that have been designed specifically for people living with, receiving treatment for or in recovery from cancer.

Touch therapy has been hailed as a wonderful option for cancer patients. Not only does it have pain-relieving benefits, but it can also reduce anxiety. This makes it a great option for patients whose skin is too sensitive for massages or facials. Lorela Movileanu, Spa Manager at the Armathwaite Hall spa comments: “Designing these treatments with cancer patients in mind is essential. It is really important to us that we can offer those living with cancer a safe and inclusive space to relax. Made for Life treatments are some of the most well-known cancer touch therapy treatments and were designed with oncologists to ensure maximum safety and benefits to cancer patients. It is recommended to research and use therapists who are trained in treating cancer patients to deliver these treatments.”

Facials for cancer patients: the lowdown

If receiving treatment for cancer, taking part in some regular beauty treatments may be limited but finding new cancer-safe beauty therapies can boost mental health. 

Cancer treatments can leave skin sensitive, red and flaky – and this means a gentle facial that incorporates deeply moisturising ingredients can be beneficial. According to Lorela Movileanu, “If the face is sensitive or there is a tumour in this area, avoid facials that incorporate massage. This is especially true if the cancer is affecting the lymph nodes around the face, as many facial massages focus on draining excess fluids from lymph nodes. A facial should be a hydrating option that comes with a light touch or application.”

Armathwaite Hall was awarded the distinguished title of ‘Best Luxury’ spa in the 2019 Candis Spa Awards and is shortlisted for the Large Hotel of the Year Award in the prestigious 2023 Cumbria Tourism Awards. The spa is also up for Best Spa for a Countryside Getaway in the Good Spa Guide Awards 2023.

The Wellness Traveller assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this guide to cancer-safe spa treatments.

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