Benefits of Therapeutic Touch during Cancer Journey - January 2019

Benefits of TT during Cancer journey

By Laurie Bartley

Benefits of Therapeutic Touch during Cancer journeys

One of the benefits of Therapeutic Touch as a healing modality is the huge body of research that supports a variety of findings.  Many health related topics have been researched, using a treatment group, a placebo group, and a control group of usual care as the three categories of study. 

This month, I will share a few research findings that relate to Cancer Treatment as well as personal experiences. 

A program began in 1985, when Therapeutic Touch was offered to people being treated for cancer at the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA). In 1995, 10 years after the program began, a research program was implemented which asked patients their primary reason for using Therapeutic Touch. Most indicated they used it for treatment-related anxiety (78%). Others found it primarily useful to cope with physiological symptoms including pain, insomnia and needle phobia. “Descriptive data suggested that TT reduced patients’ anxiety, side-effects related to chemotherapy treatments including nausea and vomiting, pain, and sleeplessness and contributed to feelings of peacefulness and well-being.” 

Findings of the research program are summarized below.

Stephen, Joanna, Gina Mackenzie, Sarah Sample and Jennifer Macdonald. “Twenty years of therapeutic touch in a Canadian cancer agency: lessons learned from a case study of integrative oncology practice.” Support Care Cancer 15 (2007): 993-998.

The objectives of this study were to describe Therapeutic Touch practice within a conventional cancer agency and to identify the important issues and success factors of this program and, secondly, to discuss TT research and our approach to the issues. 
“TT is a safe and beneficial intervention for cancer patients that can be integrated within a conventional setting, providing that the program evolves with changing patient and organizational needs.

 Lessons gleaned include (1) positioning TT within the context of research and evidence-based practice, (2) developing and adhering to standards of practice and professionalism, and (3) maintaining a non-partisan attitude and communicating a plausible rationale.” (p193)


Another well-published study occurred in the Cancer Center of Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran. Below is a short synopsis, plus the link to the full report, should you wish to view it in it’s entirety.

Aghabati, Nahid, Eesa Mohammadi and Zahra Esmaiel. “The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Pain and Fatigue of Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy.” eCAM  7. 3 (2010): 375-381.
“To examine the effect of therapeutic touch (TT) on the pain and fatigue of the cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy ...  The TT(significant) was more effective in decreasing pain and fatigue of the cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy than the usual care group, while the placebo group indicated a decreasing trend in pain and fatigue scores compared with the usual care group”(375).


My personal experience over the past several years providing Therapeutic touch to friends, family and clients with various forms of cancer have been profound. One of my first clients met with me when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Helping to relieve her anxiety and to return to more regular sleep patterns was her initial intention. Then, through her surgery and radiation, the intent of Therapeutic Touch was to offer pain relief in addition to the deep, restful sleep she had come to experience after our sessions together. Now that she is in remission, she calls me to book sessions for what I call self-care:  to guide her to a place of ease and calm.

Another lady’s cancer was in the advanced stages when we first met. The intention was offering peace, calm and a nurturing presence to assist her with managing pain. I went to her home for our sessions, and was always greeted by her beautiful dog, who initially would sit in a nearby room, but quickly found his way on the floor by her side. I loved that he would also receive the healing benefits of her Therapeutic Touch session. Sometimes he would roll onto his back, legs up, and soak in the healing energy. Mainly, he would lie quietly and comfortably. This is the case with many animals. They are aware of the power of Therapeutic Touch, and want to be part of it. They notice the calm and rhythmic breathing, the loosening of the face, jaw, and shoulder tension, the lightness of the energy that surrounds their loved one, and often find their own space of contentment alongside.

I am committed to cultivating and nurturing the vision of compassionate medical care that first recognizes and then treats people as their true, whole selves – not as isolated physical organs and systems. 

Let’s continue to educate the public, and the medical system, to ensure everyone is aware of and has access to holistic complimentary therapies. Let’s elevate our care for each other by integrating numerous therapies for each individual as a typical course of treatment. Let’s stress the importance of self-care as a way to both pro-actively reduce the stress which can lead to multiple disease states, and to create space for us to connect to our own intrinsic wisdom and body signals.

In vibrancy, Laurie.

Laurie BartleyLaurie's Bio: Laurie Bartley, TTRP, aka "The Headache Angel" Therapeutic Touch Recognized Practitioner, advancing Living Medicine, complimentary and integrative holistic health care. I will honour your preference of light touch, or near-touch during your experience of rejuvenation and healing." I have been helping people improve their lifestyles for over 35 years. With an extensive background in hospice care and estate matters, I offer compassionate care in the midst of pain, transition, and uncertainty. I promise you this: * I will create a safe space for your healing journey, * We will co-create experiences for you to release and rejeuvenate, * I will share my skills, talents, and knowledge with joy and gratitude. I am an advocate for Living Medicine, and treating each individual in their entirety - Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual. I honour my thirst for wisdom and deepening skills by continuing education, and by practicing extreme self-care. "I am inspired by my clients and thankful for their trust as we partner in a journey to health and wholeness." Based in Kelowna and Penticton, BC - Laurie Bartley Website - Email

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