Eight-year-old Maribel Maciel is very particular when it comes to her bi-weekly massages. Though soft-spoken, she only wants one after coming back from her time painting in the playroom and she tells her massage therapist exactly what part of the body she wants massaged.
“You’re the boss, I tell my patients. You tell me what you want and when you want it,” Maribel’s massage therapist, Wendy Smith, LMT, said. “These kids don’t have a choice when they get their chemo or physical therapy, so they should be able to boss me around.”
Maribel was admitted to Children’s July 29 and diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, undifferentiated sarcoma; she had a tumor near her liver. She had surgery a few weeks later to remove the tumor, followed up by chemotherapy. Now she’s recuperating in the inpatient unit of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) at Children’s.
Massage “feels good,” Maribel said. Her mother, Yolanda Maciel, said that Maribel almost always falls asleep during her massages.
“Massages are the best medicine for her pain,” she said.
We make a concerted effort at Children’s to make sure kids can still be kids during a stay of any length. If you’ve been to either of our campuses, you know that we have playrooms, Wiis and art rooms to keep patients entertained, as well as our Funnyatrics Clown Program, events and other programs to keep smiles on their faces.
In the same way, massages therapy is a treatment used to relax, reduce pain and stress and basically pamper the patient. It’s used along with other treatments for patients in the CCBD inpatient unit and many other units in the hospital.
“It’s human nature to rub something when there’s pain,” Wendy said. “That’s all we’re doing as massage therapists.”
What do you think? Have you ever heard of cancer patients getting massages as part of their treatment?