Relive the experiences described in the inspiring stories told by people close to the foundation.

“I could feel that once on the massage table, she forgot that she was sick.”

Suzanne Boivin is a registered and certified massage therapist with the Fédération québécoise des massothérapeutes. She is specialized in masso-oncology and has been working at the Foundation since April 2019.

I have been specializing in oncology massage since 2007. I made this career choice after one of my friends died of cancer.

As I accompanied her throughout her illness, I started to realize the benefits of oncological massage. I could feel that once on the massage table, she forgot that she was sick.

I started giving oncology massages at Notre-Dame Hospital.

Today, I give in-chair massage in the chemotherapy suite, on a table at the Quebec Cancer Foundation, and inside the rooms of patients who are no longer able to move around.

Oncological massage involves precise training, specific techniques that differ from those used on patients not suffering from cancer. 

It is important not to massage too deeply and to use a lighter, soft, enveloping, soothing touch.

When some parts of the body cannot be massaged, more attention has to be paid to the arms or legs, for example, depending on what the patient wants.

The benefits of a massage are multiple for both body and mind.

Massage produces relaxation and a feeling of overall well-being. When patients receive a massage, they forget their illness and stop being sick for a while.

Their bodies are also soothed, which has a beneficial effect on the quality of their sleep.

Cancer patients often develop a fear of their own bodies; massage offers them a way of reappropriating their bodies

I remember one patient telling me, "As soon as you massage me, I feel soothed. Everywhere. Now I know that I have some body parts that don't hurt.”

Unfortunately, the benefits of oncology massage are often underestimated. There are still many misconceptions associated with the practice. Some people, for example, are afraid that cancer can be spread by massage, which is obviously untrue. It is a complementary therapy that is recognized by the entire health care community. Nurses refer us because they know so well how beneficial it can be.

It’s true that some patients are reluctant at first, especially when it comes to in-chair massages in the hospital, but when they see the happiness it brings to other patients who are hooked up to an IV, they are soon won over. They very often end up wondering why they waited so long to get a massage! 

Massage is all about positivity, and it's not just massage therapists or medical professionals who say so. It’s the people who benefit most directly from it.

At the Quebec Cancer Foundation, where I give table massages, I see the patients as they come into in the room, tired and filled with pain. But when they go out, I can see their relaxed faces, their smiles and the light that shines from in their eyes. Such happiness!

The Foundation also offers a meeting place where patients can get together and talk with people who are going through situations similar to their own. They can also confide in the Foundation's professionals. They feel free to say things they don't dare say to their loved ones. 

The massage room at the Quebec Cancer Foundation also provides an opportunity for free expression. Patients share their emotions with me and I always listen without judging them. But not everyone is talkative. So I adapt to their wishes. Sometimes I am the attentive ear, sometimes the silent professional.

But no matter what state of mind and physical state they are in before a massage, they invariably come out of it far more relaxed than before, saying, “ Thank you, thank you.”  A small victory in the face of cancer.

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