Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Subscribe to our Living With Cancer e-newsletter to stay up to date on cancer topics.
Close your eyes and remember the last time someone held your hand for a while. Remember the warmth of their skin and how it instantly made you relax? Human touch is powerful and can be an excellent way to bring your stress level down a notch or two.
Touch can relieve pain, reduce blood pressure and stress hormones, and improve the immune system. At Mayo Clinic, we've begun a program that provides a short hand massage for cancer patients to help them relax while they're receiving chemotherapy.
The program has been a huge success. It's the perfect example showing that simple human touch can make such a big difference for people.
It seems that as we experience touch, we focus on the feeling, warmth and relaxation it provides instead of focusing on any worries, anxieties or pain. Any time we can refocus our mind to a relaxing place it has a positive effect on the body.
Explore adding more touch to your day. You can do this by reaching out to friends and family members as you talk or greet each other. If you feel comfortable, add a little touch to the arm or a short hug as you first see them.
Hold your grandchildren in your lap or snuggle close while you read together. Hold hands or walk arm in arm with the one you love — it all makes such a difference.
Consider other ways to get a dose of human touch such as a relaxing massage from a trained professional. As always, check with your oncologist or doctor first if you need to take any special precautions when receiving a massage.
Share your thoughts on how touch makes a difference to you. Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Follow on Twitter:
Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Selecting "Submit" signifies that you have read and agree to our posting guidelines.
If everything else hurts-it might work to gently press on your ears-easier when you're lying down (then you don't have to hold your arms up) In Auricular therapy and in Ear Reflexology it is understood that the ears hold a conplete map of the body. If you can affect the entire body using the small area of the ear-maybe you can make a difference in how well you feel. Some Reflexologists offer "Self Help" seminars/courses so you can learn to do it for family or for yourself. Ears are close to the brain so quick turnaround time for the information and it increases circulation.
Bless you all-I pray this might help someone :)
I was diagnosed in 2008 with multiple myeloma. So much of the chemo made my skin hurt. I could handle a gentle hug but I screamed one time my mom added a little back scratch to the hug. I had to undergo bone marrow biopsies every few months. The pain of having someone drill into the lower part of my back was sometimes so painful that I cracked my tooth while gritting them. I was offered to have a "touch therapist" sit in one day and I figured it can't make it worse. I was amazed how helpful it was to have someone hold my hand, talk to me about things I enjoyed like gardening, while listening to soft music. I would have never believed that the distraction could help with the pain. I have requested this "touch therapist" for every biopsy. She even came and visited me while I was having my bone marrow transplant. She gave me gentle hand and foot massages. I didn't want anything more as my nerve endings were damaged from all the chemo and a bad case of shingles. I did want to also mention that I have a little dog. I call him my therapy dog as he seems to know exactly what I need. I won't go for a walk for myself but I will go for a walk for his benefit. We both end up feeling better after a walk. He also sleeps by my side and I fall asleep much faster. Lastly, I find hugs by getting to know the little neighbor kids. They give hugs so freely. Or, the people at church who know of my illness. -Gods Peace
I disagree with standard cancer treatments. And most of the oncologists when it comes to them or their families agree with me.but I strongly believe in human touch as a part of the cancer treatment. In many cases it should be the major one and would bring most health benefits to patients. For sure more then surgery, chemo or radiation.
My husband, now 82, was diagnosed with CLL 6 years ago. It took 2-3 years, Mayos, and Johns Hopkins to get a difinitive diagnosis. We have adjusted our home and lives to make life as normal as possible and continue to 'go' even though he is on 24/7 H2O now. Three series of chemo, a broken hip and knee surgery have intervened as well. You are right that the human touch is soooo important. In fact, I find that when things are not going well, the holding and hugging brings some relief to both of us -- the warmth and sharing is greatly needed by both of us.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic so far. We all do have different ways to include human touch in our lives. As Cathy and Susan mentioned, you may be wondering how best to connect with touch with someone who is in pain. The simple hand or foot massage can be wonderful. The idea of snuggling with a pet can work wonders as well - they give such unconditional love. And Barbara, thanks for mentioning the chemo nurses...it is true that they give so much every day in their work and would love to get a hug or a touch of the hand to show that you also care about them.
I heartily agree that a human touch really helps. I have bone marrow cancer and go to the local Wellspring Cancer Support Centre, and we always give each other hugs. Also, I volunteer for Wellspring in the local Oncology Clinic and talk to patients getting chemo about Wellspring and how helpful it can be. When I leave a patient I often ask "would you like a Wellspring hug?" and no one has ever said no. A human touch really helps.
I look forward to that it means alot
My 2 best buddies were diagnosed w/ breast cancer Labor Day, 2011. I'd been hosting massage parties at my home just to get friends together! Fortunately both of my friends enjoy massages, so my friend was able to offer massage at their homes. Patty really needed massage to help her relax and loosen up all the scar tissue in addition to the extremely tight muscles around the chest & shoulders, and help improve her range of motion. YES, head massages are the best. When Patty was in the hospital and her back was sore, I rubbed her back as her lower back would tighten up. I can't imagine a life without massage. When in college, my siblings & I would give each other back rubs. Mommy is the best at head & foot massages! For those who don't care for human touch, I recommend a hot stone massage! That is great too!
My husband has been under chemo for the last 3 years. He has pancreatic cancer and he is doing fine. So far, no complications neither emotional problems. Last month he gained one pound!
Every day I massage his back, legs, and hands . He feels pain relief when I do it and I'm happy to see he smiles.
During his chemo treatments, I always massage his feet and I believe this work because he is still alive!!
I strongly recommend massage therapy for everybody.
Susan, I understand - when my father had lung cancer I could always rub his feet,or hold his hand without fear of hurting him. Using a little light cream also helps. I am a cancer patient now and like being touched lightly. Family are always looking for ways to help me feel better and this is something they can do and see immediate results. Good luck.
It's interesting to read the various views here on the importance of touch. I had never been the world's biggest hugger especially with non-family members. However, during chemo I did something that made me energized. When anyone came to see me, I would hug them either on arrival or departure and sometimes both. I would suck the energy out of them in my head( my tank felt empty) and used that feeling as an energizer.For me, it worked and they were none the wiser for their "deficit"! Another thing that worked for me was to sit with my daughter's dog and pet and stroke her. We did an experiment several times to see if it would bring down my heart rate which was higher than usual during the whole treatment time. The rate was always lower after 10 minutes of petting the dog. Weird? Maybe, but whatever works in such times is a plus.
Make friends with your chemo nurses. They have feelings too and sometimes need a hug or a soft reassuring gesture. Then you get extra love and support while getting treatment.
I can't stand being touched ..... especially by strangers makes me very uncomfortable. I like to be left alone just listening to my ipod during chemo treatments .
I can see where it helps some people though ..... older people or those who are lonely.
Me? Um not so much ... kinda freaks me out.
I am going home to see my brother this weekend for what may be the last time. He is quite weak right now although completely coherent. I do not want to" hurt " him and am wondering if I should ask the oncology nurses before going in to see him or does anyone have any advice-my sister and I will be going together.
ohhh.. the feeling is wondefull! Have had my whole left lung removed and a double mesectomy. Kemo before lung surgery. The feeling of touch, rubs, and hugs are wonders! It just makes you melt. I thank God I have children that don't mind lov'in on their mom! A gental head rub is also fantastic! It does calm you and relax you. Can't afford messages, but then I don't need them with my family around. Cancer surviver, 6yrs. lung, 2yrs. mes. Yeah!
I agree 100%, but where does a friendless, 'hermit type person' gets those 'touchings'? Thankfully, I am not a cancer patient right now.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Proceeds from website advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse non-Mayo products and services.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.