#6 – Reflexology

This is my own thing.  Years ago I trained in reflexology as a personal interest and I have continued to use it through the years.  There are a couple of reasons that I believe in the value of this treatment.  First and foremost, there is no substitute for human touch – it soothes a small child, it offers comfort, it provides a connection between people, and at some point in our lives we all crave it.  The second reason is that I believe in the premise of zones in the body that can be treated using pressure points in the feet.  I have used it for my own headaches, whether it is my mind doing the healing or the release of energy blockages, I don’t know, all I know is what works for me. 

When we received the package of reading materials after my husband was diagnosed with cancer, reflexology was one of the “complementary therapies” identified in the official booklet identified under “massage therapy.”  I had already started reflexology on him so it was validating to see it acknowledged in the booklet. It states:  “Research has shown that massage can help you lower stress, anxiety, nausea, pain, fatigue, and problems sleeping (insomnia).  …  It is important to have massage done by a registered massage therapist (RMT) who has experience working with people with cancer.”  (Source:  Complementary Therapies, A Guide for People with Cancer – Canadian Cancer Society). 

I know that he anticipates his reflexology session every day.  I modify the treatment depending on the stage of his chemo cycle.  For the day of and several days after his treatment it is a very light touch, more soothing, to encourage circulation and provide relaxation and communicate love.

The Second Chemo Treatment

So yesterday was my husband’s second infusion of chemotherapy.  There was a lot of apprehension around it since the nausea was quite debilitating for the first treatment.  Having said that we definitely took a different approach to this session.  The emphasis on fluid intake is so that the system efficiently flushes out the toxins – so the night before, the morning of, and immediately after the session we focused on getting him to drink lots of fluids.  We left the chemotherapy treatment with an order for hydration for today and for the following three days, if necessary.  The IV hydration will help to ensure that adequate fluids are in there moving out the excess chemo.

I always have questions for the dietician, I feel sorry for her!  Yesterday I asked about taking vitamin supplements.  She indicated that extreme care should be taken when using vitamins or taking antioxidants.  The antioxidants serve to strengthen or protect the cells, and so can actually interfere with chemo since chemo is designed to attack all fast growing cells, whether healthy or diseased.  So the antioxidants are out for now. 

We also spoke about getting the most bang for our buck when it comes to ingesting proteins to rebuild his blood cells, we wanted to know what meat/fish/poultry product was the best.  She hedged quite a bit on this one since, as she stated, the cut of the meat and the preparation were also important.  At the end of our chat she basically encouraged us to stick with “muscle” meats and to look for lean cuts. 

His taste buds have changed dramatically though and sweet things taste too sickly sweet, and salty things taste too salty, her simple tip to address this – if it tastes too salty, add a small pinch of sugar.  If it tastes too sweet, add a small pinch of salt.  Hopefully this will do the trick, but he’s still a bit too nauseous to put it to the test. 

Today he is wiped out and has spent most of his time resting in bed or in his chair.  This is much the same as the first time, however, our understanding of the process has taken a lot of the stress out of it.  We continue to do the other “non-traditional” things in addition to the chemo; including Tibetan bowls, visualization, reflexology and Tai Chi.  These are part of our daily routine and, if nothing else, are quite relaxing and soothing for him.