The complementary therapy service is available to all our cancer and haematology patients and their carers or relatives.
The complementary therapy team is based in the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre within the Macmillan Support and Information Service. Most booked outpatient appointments take place in the therapy rooms on the lower ground floor of the Cancer Centre. However, if you are unable to come down to the therapy rooms, therapists can visit you in day care and ambulatory care on the second, third and fourth floors. The team also visits paediatric, teenage, young adult and adult patients on the hospital wards.
Therapies that are currently available include aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, reiki and relaxation.
Aromatherapy uses blends of essential oils extracted from plants, which are usually mixed with vegetable base oil. Essential oils may help to reduce some of the side effects associated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and improve physical and emotional wellbeing. They can be blended to suit specific needs, for example to help with nausea, anxiety or relaxation. Aromatherapy can be combined with massage, even if only a small area of your body is massaged, such as your hands or feet. Oils can also be vaporised in a diffuser and the therapist can make up an individual inhaler called an aromastick which you can take away with you.
Gentle massage, with or without the use of essential or base oils, can be used to relax and relieve muscle tension. It may help to lift mood and some people find that it improves their sleep pattern. You can experience the beneficial effects of massage even when only a small area of your body is massaged, such as hands, feet or lower legs.
Reiki is a soothing and relaxing therapy where the therapist uses light touch either on or just above the body. Some patients find that reiki brings on deep relaxation and a sense of calm and peace, which helps them better cope with stress and anxiety. During a reiki session you may feel mild tingling, pleasant warmth or coolness, or nothing at all. You will be fully clothed and either sitting on a chair or lying down on a couch.
Reflexology is a specialised form of foot or hand massage where gentle pressure is applied with the thumbs to specific points on the feet or hands. It can help to reduce stress and tension and promote relaxation. For a foot massage, you only need to remove your shoes and socks/tights.
Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, body scanning and mindful breathing, help to calm and relax body and mind.
The therapist will tell you more about the relaxation techniques that may be helpful for you. You will be able to use the techniques you have learnt during the session at any time.
Relaxation sessions can be arranged on a group or one-to-one basis.
A typical session lasts up to 30 minutes and includes a brief consultation. The therapist will ask you a few questions and ensure that the therapy you receive is safe to combine with the medical treatment you are having.
As we are a small team, and would like to be able to offer our service to as many people as possible, we will limit the number of sessions available to you, your carer or relative. Your therapist will indicate the number of sessions at your first appointment.
Although the team is employed by the NHS, much of our funding is through charitable donation. We are particularly grateful for the support of the following charities: UCH Cancer Fund, Haematology Cancer Care, and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
If you wish to support the complementary therapy service, direct donations can be made payable and posted to:
Alternatively, you can ask any of our therapists for a donation envelope.