Complementary Therapies

Complementary Therapies

Therapies we provide

Scar Therapy

Scar Therapy is a form of very gentle therapy that focuses on helping to reduce pain, discomfort and restrictions in the immediate and surrounding areas of the body where there has been an injury, surgical procedure or burn.

Appearance of scars can also be improved. Scar tissue has different properties to our other soft tissue and it behaves differently. As wounds heal, the damaged tissue is replaced by a denser, stronger and less elastic scar tissue. In many cases this scar tissue will restrict movement and create discomfort in the surrounding areas of the body.

Underneath the surface, scar tissue often attaches itself to other structures and organs and these adhesions can cause ongoing problems that are unrelated to the original surgery or accident.  The techniques used at Together Against Cancer are by practitioners trained in Sharon Wheelers ScarWork. Scars of any age can be worked on and a number of treatments are likely to be required and you can expect to see both cosmetic and functional changes. At least 10 weeks or approval from a consultant is required before treatment can commence on scars linked to surgery.

“An evaluation of a ScarWork service for cancer survivors experiencing adverse effects of surgery and/or radiotherapy” (9), suggests that this intervention may have potential beneficial effects on scar related symptoms both physical and psychosocial experienced by cancer survivors.

Scar Therapy

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy is designed to help maintain physical, emotional and spiritual well-being by the correct application of pure essential oils.

The word ‘aroma’ means a fragrance or sweet smell and the word ‘therapy’ simply means a treatment designed to bring about a positive change in an individual, to help the body to help itself to regain health or well-being. Massage is used as a way for the oils to enter the body.

Boehm et al. (3) conducted a meta-analysis of 18 studies examining the effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, depression, sleep, pain, and overall well-being of cancer patients. Overall, the study concluded that aromatherapy provides short-term benefits to cancer patients.

Oncology Massage

Oncology massage is the adaptation of existing massage therapy techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment. 

Anyone who has ever received cancer treatment, from those in active treatment to those in recovery or beyond cancer treatment, as well as those at the end of life, are best served by someone trained in oncology massage. 

A therapist trained in Oncology Massage will have an understanding of cancer, side effects of treatments and medications and how to adapt techniques to work safely with people at any stage of their cancer journey.

Body Massage

Body massage is one of the most well-known complementary therapies. One of the primary goals of this massage technique is to relax the entire body. It is also exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility whilst easing tension. 

The Effect of Massage Therapy in Cancer Patients (7) concluded that massage therapy has beneficial effects in the short term the level of emotional well–being, physical and emotional discomfort, depressed mood, sleep patterns, stress and relaxation.


Massage Therapy


Reflexology is a manual therapy focusing on the feet. It’s suitable for all ages and may bring relief from a wide range of acute and chronic conditions, such as: hormonal imbalances, menopause, back pain, migraines, headaches, sleep disorders, digestive problems, and circulatory problems, stress related disorders, anxiety, arthritis, multiple sclerosis.

The therapist applies pressure to the points on the feet using their thumb. The study by Özdelikara and Tan: Effect of Reflexology on Nausea, Vomiting and Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients (4) concluded that reflexology decreased the experience, development, distress of nausea, vomiting, and retching as well as fatigue in the experimental group. Hence, the use of reflexology is recommended for chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

An Integrative Review on the Effect of Reflexology on the Side Effect of Chemotherapy in Cancer Patients (5) showed that reflexology can reduce pain and increase physical function, balance, and quality of life in cancer patients.


Reiki is a form of complementary medicine and is sometimes classified as oriental medicine by some professional medical bodies.

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self‐improvement and is a technique commonly called hands on healing.

Research looking at the effectiveness of complementary therapies versus a placebo (1) with patients suffering with chronic health conditions, showed that Reiki was found to be more effective than a placebo for reducing pain, anxiety, and depression, and for improving self-esteem and quality of life.  Reiki has the potential to provide valuable support for a broad range of chronic health conditions when implemented alongside all other medical and therapeutic techniques.

According to The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2) Reiki very much improved physical and psychological symptoms associated with many health conditions, including affect, pain, depression, anxiety, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, shortness of breath, appetite, and overall well-being. Reiki can provide immediate relief for many health conditions and is used for this purpose inside and outside of the hospital setting.


EFT is based on a group of techniques collectively known as Energy Psychology. These techniques are based on the body’s energy system, and originally stem from the practice of acupuncture. These tried and tested techniques are designed to rapidly clear emotional issues.

Research (6) on EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)  reported that participants experienced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms, as well as in pain levels and cravings. They also reported improvements in happiness.

Tui NA

Tui Na is a hands-on body treatment that uses Chinese principles together with the goal of impacting circulatory flow and chi to improve general function and enhance resistance to disease.

The practitioner may brush, knead, roll, press, and rub the areas between each of the joints, known as the eight gates, to attempt to open the body’s defensive chi (wei qi) and get the energy moving in the meridians and the muscles. Techniques may be gentle or quite firm in order to stimulate the acupressure points.

These techniques are claimed to aid in the treatment of both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, as well as many non-musculoskeletal conditions.

Tui Na is available to carers only.

Hand massage


Acupuncture is a branch of traditional medicine that has been practiced in China and the Far East for thousands of years. 

It has been developed, tested, researched and refined over this time into an alternative treatment option accessed by increasing numbers of patients in the West. 

Acupuncture with a trained and fully qualified practitioner is one of the safest and longest established forms of healthcare. It is suitable for people of all ages, including pregnant women and children, and can be used effectively alongside conventional medicine. 

The British Acupuncture Council (8) list various research documents in using Acupuncture with people with cancer.

1.       McManus DE. Reiki Is Better Than Placebo and Has Broad Potential as a Complementary Health Therapy. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(4):1051-1057. doi:10.1177/2156587217728644

2.       Natalie L. Dyer, Ann L. Baldwin, and William L. Rand.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Dec 2019.1156-1162.

3.       Boehm K, Büssing A, Ostermann T. Aromatherapy as an adjuvant treatment in cancer care–a descriptive systematic review. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2012;9(4):503-518. Published 2012 Jul 1. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v9i4.7

4.       Özdelikara A, Tan M. The Effect of Reflexology on Chemotherapy-induced Nausea, Vomiting, and Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs. 2017;4(3):241-249. doi:10.4103/apjon.apjon_15_17

5.       Gholamzadeh H, Ilkhani M, Ameri A, Shakeri N.  Effect of Reflexology on the Side Effects of Chemotherapy in Cancer Patients: An Integrative Review:

6.       Bach D, Groesbeck G, Stapleton P, Sims R, Blickheuser K, Church D. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X18823691. doi:10.1177/2515690X18823691

7.       Alves M, Jardim HG, Gomes B. The Effect of Massage Therapy in Cancer Patients,


9.       Beverley de Valois, Teresa Young, Clare Scarlett, Emma Holly, An evaluation of a ScarWork service for cancer survivors experiencing adverse effects of surgery and/or radiotherapy,

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We fundraised to make this therapy available.