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How Reflexology Helps Women with Breast Cancer

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

By Oran Aviv Although it's not quite Breast Cancer Awareness month, I just took a course and wanted to share how reflexology can help women who have or had breast cancer. Reflexology may reduce side effects of cancer treatments, promote relaxation, and help women cope better emotionally.

Can Reflexology Help Someone who has or had Cancer?

At this time there is no clear research that shows that reflexology can prevent or heal someone who has cancer, but reflexology may help relieve the side effects from the treatments for cancer. Reflexologists, along with other complementary medicine practitioners, work in integrative medicine departments in hospitals, alongside oncology departments, to help improve the quality of life of cancer patients.

The First International Symposium on Reflexology and Cancer was held in 2008 at Kibbutz Shefyim in Israel. Speaker after speaker, told of their years of research and experience working with cancer patients. It was amazing to see research from all over the world consistently showing the same results:

  • Reflexology helps cancer patients reduce symptoms from medical treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery by reducing pain, nausea, fatigue and constipation

  • Reflexology reduces anxiety and depression

  • Reflexology promotes relaxation and induces good sleep

  • And finally in Palliative Care, when the medical community has nothing more to offer, reflexologists can help

Besides improving quality of life by helping clients cope physically with the disease, reflexology can also help clients cope emotionally. Reflexology reduces stress and can give emotional support to someone who has cancer.

Dealing with a serious illness is not easy for the patient nor for their family. Many times the patient must put on a strong facade, so their family members won't worry, yet they need to release their own emotions. Reflexology is a safe place for a person with cancer to relax, release their fears and recharge so they can face the next round of treatments and the changes in their life that this illness has caused.

Family members too, especially parents of children who have cancer, need their own time to escape from the nightmare they are in.

Do you want to help a friend who is ill or help a family member who is caring for a loved one who has cancer? Give them the gift of a reflexology escape. There are reflexologists all over the world that you can find on-line.

Reflexology May Reduce the Side Effects of Medication If there is one thing I would like you to remember about reflexology it is this - because you might be able to really help someone you know.

After overcoming breast cancer, many women will take hormonal therapy medicine to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. In some cases, these meds, such as Tamoxifen and Femera, can cause very difficult side effects such as tiredness, hot flashes, achiness, and depression. Some of these adverse effects may be so strong, that some women must make the truly difficult decision to stop taking a medication that might prevent the cancer from returning to regain their quality of life.

When reflexology helps reduce these side effects, women can continue taking these lifesaving medications while regaining their quality of life.

Jeanette and I at the Lemonade Fund event. We explained to women who have or had breast cancer that reflexology may reduce the side effects of cancer medications,

My inspiring friend Jeanette had very difficult side effects when she began taking Femara. She agreed to try reflexology and the results were beyond both our expectations. Jeanette wrote this 5 years ago:

“After 2 weeks on Femara, I had many awful side effects: very sore joints and muscles, shortness of breath, tiredness, hot flashes, hair loss - everything that is written under side effects on the medication leaflet.

In recent years, being active in sports is something that has helped me enormously, but while on Femara, I was barely able to get up from the couch. I had difficulty going down the stairs, couldn’t make it through workouts and occasionally I felt like I was descending into a bottomless pit.

I highly doubted that I would be able to continue with this medication even though it could prevent the return of the cancer.

[Reflexology] helped me get going again:

I have almost no pain, have much more energy and am active in sports again (I even registered for a new sporting event) and life looks brighter. Reflexology works really great and I recommend it for anyone, but especially for people who have cancer, it improves your quality of life and reduces the side effects of the medications.”

It is unbelievable what this amazing woman has accomplished since then. Jeanette has participated in numerous races including marathons and even ran/swam/cycled in a half Ironman - all while continuing to take Femara! And guess what else - she is now a reflexologist too.

Jeanette also notes that when she does not receive reflexology regularly, the symptoms begin to return. Since this first trial with Jeannette, we have seen reflexology help reduce these side effects in other women on these medications. We have also seen that the side effects can return if the women do not continue to receive reflexology regularly.

We suggest having regular weekly sessions until the symptoms from the medications disappear and then continue either bi-monthly or monthly reflexology sessions to prevent the side effects from returning.

RLD - Reflexology Lymph Drainage for Lymphedema

Sally Kay developed and teaches a research-based based, reflexology technique for lymph drainage called RLD Reflexology Lymph Drainage. Both Sally and her students have brought relief to many women who had breast cancer. I was fortunate to recently take this course with Sally and learn her wonderful method, which has brought reflexology to a whole new level.

About 20% of the women who have undergone breast cancer treatments have difficulty with lymph drainage due to damage caused by cancer treatments of their lymph glands. This can result in the swelling of one or both arms – called lymphedema. This condition can be uncomfortable, and painful and cause great anguish. For many it is embarrassing, doesn’t allow women to take part in activities, and can be a constant, upsetting reminder that they had breast cancer.

Sally Kay based her technique on the already known Manual Lymph Drainage technique which moves the lymph manually from the affected arm area. Sally Kay’s research shows that her RLD technique, using reflexology, has very similar results. If you or someone you know is suffering from lymphedema, you can find a certified RLD therapist

Reflexology can be a very important technique to help women with or after breast cancer improve their quality of life by reducing the side effects of treatments and meds, reduce lymphedema and give patients and their family members a much-needed break to relax and recharge.


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