The Oncology Massage: Myths, Facts, and How it Affects You, the AgeLess Client


          There are times in a person’s life when trials and tribulations arise that are beyond the scope of imagination. You think, “This could never happen to me,” or, “This is all a big mistake.” But in the crazy and unpredictable years we have on this planet; things do happen, people do fall ill, relationships do end and begin anew. In the spa world, our job as therapists is to support, care for, and nurture the client in as many ways as we can. Sometimes, this involves listening to them talk on and on about that annoying boyfriend they just broke up with while massaging them. Sometimes, it’s the teenage daughter that they just don’t know what to do with while we’re waxing their eyebrows. And sometimes, it’s much more. Here at AgeLess SPA, we are continuously striving to provide the best possible care to our clients, no matter what their goals or needs. And we are so excited to begin offering one treatment in our Horseheads location that is designed to go above and beyond when it comes to care and support, the oncology massage.

          Go back several decades, and the mere suggestion of undergoing cancer treatment while simultaneously getting massaged on the regular was frowned upon. In a time when more standard approaches to medicine and health were the majority, there was simply not enough research regarding massage and its effect on the body to know whether the pressure and manipulation of fluids would speed up the spread of tumors or not. Once diagnosed, it was usually the same old routine: visit the oncologist’s office, endure time in your local hospital, undergo chemo and radiation, and hope that it works. While this is still pretty normal and can be a literal life-saver, we now know that there are a plethora of other options out there to provide not only physical but mental and spiritual support to the patient.

          But backing up, let’s explore some of the myths and arguments behind cancer and the world of massage that, in the past, have discouraged clients from seeking this incredible form of care.

          The first and probably most heard of debate is that the spread of blood, lymph, and other bodily fluids when on the massage table can also increase the spread of cancer cells. Such reports state that massage is only advisable if it is performed well away from the affected area. For instance, if a patient has been diagnosed with breast cancer, massage techniques would only be performed confidently on the extremities like the arms and legs, and never the chest area. While it is still advisable today to avoid the direct area of concern while the patient is on the table, the amount of daily activities they often perform while going about their day to day life (a run or workout at the gym, for example) can speed up the circulation of fluids just as much, if not more, than a one hour massage. Therefore, this argument can only be taken so far.

          The second argument regarding massage and oncology patients has been that the level of concern regarding boosting the circulation of any kind ends when cancer treatment starts because the treatments are simply supposed to work on their own. Patients are often laid up in bed for days at a time, with very little thought given to exercise or movement. This only serves to strengthen the first argument that circulation is a detriment to cancer treatment. However, if blood, lymphatic fluids, and cancer cells were truly spread through an increase in circulation, then, in theory, the patient should not engage in any movements that spread fluid- walking, exercising, driving, even sexual activity. And who’s to say when this advice would no longer apply? Even if a patient is in remission or has been cancer-free for thirty years, the thought that cells spread through a rise in circulation discourage movement altogether, and an unhealthy, unfulfilling, sedentary lifestyle.

          The third myth on this subject is that massage therapists offering oncology massage are doing so based solely on personal opinion, not cold, hard facts. While there is still much to be learned about how massage techniques can help or hinder cancer patients, we have come a long way from the days when stepping foot into a spa or therapist’s office was a blatant and unsympathetic “no.” Research is continuously being done to further our understanding of this topic, and therapists who reach out for oncology training are bombarded with a load of data originating from credible sources such as hospitals, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, and the like. Therapists often attend classes at schools completely separate from their original school of licensure, thus adding a significant amount of hours to their roster of experience. And because of this, it ensures (to a point) that the therapists who are emerging with this new and exciting education are individuals who care deeply about the subject and want to deliver this type of care.

          If you were to Google search “oncology massage contraindications,” you are likely to find pages and pages of other “research-based” reasons why stepping into a massage therapist’s office is unacceptable while undergoing treatment for or having survived cancer. Some of them simply need more research in order to understand their own argument fully. Some are outdated and haven’t caught up with the newest findings out there. Others are simply not true. At the end of the day, the best rule to abide by is simply to do what feels right and do your research.

          But where do all these myths and frowny faces leave us? Is it actually safe to book a massage session while undergoing chemo and radiation? What if I’m not a cancer patient anymore and have been free of the disease for several years? Can I still benefit? And what exactly are the benefits, anyway?

          In response to that first question, yes, it is perfectly safe to book a massage treatment, no matter what stage of cancer or what type you’re being treated for. Oftentimes, the only physical touch a patient receives while dealing with their disease involved poking, prodding, and pain. While on the massage table, a well-trained massage therapist will be able to bring relief, relaxation, and a warm, supportive environment to the client, something that can be severely lacking and very much needed.

          For those that don’t know, the biggest and perhaps most underestimated benefit of oncology massage is the mental support and caring touch the massage therapist can offer. This is often the most tumultuous, trying time in a person’s life, and they have been to countless appointments, spent many nights in a hospital bed, and are stressed to the absolute max. Allowing them a safe, quiet space to let go and simply be can make all the difference in the world. The anxiety, depression, nausea, fatigue, and an endless list of side effects can be relieved for a time. And even if there are no immediate physical benefits, the psychological benefits while dealing with the disease can help the client endure one more doctor questioning them with a more peaceful frame of mind. 

          If a client has been cancer-free for several years, the benefits can still be pretty powerful, too. Techniques can be adjusted according to the individual’s needs, and relief can be delivered while doing so in a safe way. If surgeries have been performed, organs have been removed, and pain is still experienced, etc., an oncology trained massage therapist will know how to manipulate the body in the most beneficial way compared to a client with no history of cancer. And if they don’t, it’s time to find a new therapist!

          If one is currently undergoing treatment in a hospital environment, it should still be encouraged to seek out the help of a trained massage therapist if it is of interest. While there are no laws in effect requiring a doctor’s clearance for a massage session as of now, a general rule of thumb is that the more documentation you are able to provide, the better. This will give your service provider the best, and most thorough understanding of your condition, what treatments you have undergone, and how your body is handling it all. In the end, it can only help you.

          When booking a session, it is (and should be) pretty standard for the massage therapist to deliver a lengthy intake form full of questions upon check-in. If this seems daunting, no sweat! Honest answers and a sincere, detailed discussion with the service provider will only serve to better the session and leave you with the most customized care possible. While a cancer patient’s day is filled with endless forms, questions, and uncomfortable scenarios, the goal of the oncology massage is first and foremost to provide self-care in body, mind, and spirit. Once they get to know you and your body, it’s only up from there! 

           So what can we gather from all of this information? First, do your research and only set up a session with someone who is well educated on the topic and who you feel comfortable with. Being that the main goal of oncology massage is comfort and care, being uncomfortable in any way severely inhibits the outcome of the session. This even goes for the most basic of massages. 

          Also, book a few sessions if at all possible. As with most things in life, persistence is key, so if your nerves are aflutter at first, never assume that it is useless to come back. Knowing what to expect the second time around, the client is often much more at ease, and the therapist much more knowledgeable about that particular person’s needs. And muscles that need attention and work will only open up more with numerous appointments. You may find that it is just what you’ve been looking for!

          At AgeLess SPA, we are currently working to incorporate this exciting modality of massage into our spa menu. Because of the unique nature of the treatment, the detailed intake, and delicate nature of the service, both the appointment length and price will vary slightly from our traditional integrated massages. But the goal of the session remains the same: to provide the client with the utmost attention, respect, and relaxation that they have come to expect from one of the best spas in the Southern Tier. By expanding our menu in this way, we are hopeful that it will open up endless possibilities for growth and serve the public in a way that has not previously been offered. Just one more way to show that we are truly here for you, our wonderful clients! 

          As always, stay connected to everything AgeLess through our website, Facebook page, and Instagram account! Here’s to being the best, healthiest, most beautiful version of you!

Watermelon – The New SPF!

Watermelon – The New SPF!

Watermelon – The New SPF!

By: Shannon Martin

August 23rd, 2019


Did you hear that eating watermelon can help prevent your skin from soaking in those harmful UV rays from the sun? Studies have found that watermelon is one of those hidden superfoods. We all know that it’s delicious and refreshing on hot, summer days. Due to the level of water, this fruit contains (92%), it is hydrating if nothing else. This amount of water, also, enables you to feel fuller causing you to eat fewer calories in the process, according to

Like all fruits, another benefit of eating watermelon is all the nutrients you’re consuming with it. Antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, and lycopene are really important in our bodies. For our purposes, let’s focus on the reasons they are most important to the skin. 



Let’s break down each nutrient:

Carotenoids are plant compounds that our bodies covert to Vitamin A. Vitamin A and Vitamin C are important for our skin. Vitamin C helps our bodies create collagen, a protein that keeps your skin flexible. Vitamin A helps make and repair skin cells. Rejuvenating the skin like this prevents it from becoming dry.

Lycopene is also considered to be a carotenoid. However, it is not converted into Vitamin A. This antioxidant is what gives red fruits their color. The riper and red the fruit, the more lycopene it has to offer. Watermelons themselves have, on average, 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes, according to AgResearch Magazine. Lycopene protects us from various diseases – diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers – that are caused by free radicals. The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies says that free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage to your cells, tissues, and DNA. They are formed during a natural process called oxidation, or the burning of oxygen by our cells. Lycopene, as an antioxidant, plays a major role in maintaining normal cellular activity. We need antioxidants such as this and Vitamin C to help counter oxidation because in today’s world it’s completely unavoidable. Contaminants like air pollution, unhealthy foods, and sunlight (since we’re discussing the skin), can speed up the process of these free radicals causing a lot of cellular damage and leaving us at risk for chronic diseases.



With that explained, we can see that free radicals, created from our exposure to sunlight and harmful UV rays, will cause skin damage – from sun spots and sunburn and in worst cases, skin cancer. So… when you see that watermelon at a picnic – chow down and dream of all the lycopene (and other antioxidants) ridding your body of those cell-destroying free radicals. Or – just enjoy the sweet treat knowing it has numerous health benefits. But make sure you don’t skip on the real SPF for maximum protection. 



Photo Credit: Shannon Martin

Featured Credit: Quinn Martin


Summer Skin

Summer Skin

By: Ashley Dininny

July 10th, 2019

Finally, Summer has arrived, and we are all more than ready to have some fun in the sun. Whether we plan to head to the pools, catch some rays, or wear our strappy dresses, our skin can take a serious beating come summer. With that said, as summer begins, we need to reevaluate our skincare routine.

Sure, we all know about the importance of using sunscreen, but maintaining healthy skin throughout the summer requires a different kind of attention than it does during the rest of the year. Along with a summer safe skin care regime, I included some smart tips and tricks to aid for a better, beautiful, healthy skin summer.


Physical Sunscreen

An obvious first step to healthy skin in the warm months is sunscreen, but here’s the thing: you should be using a physical blocker, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as opposed to a chemical blocker (e.g., oxybenzone, avobenzone).

Physical Blocker: Physical blockers work as a shield over the skin and absorb, reflect, and scatter UV rays from the surface of the skin.

Chemical Blocker: I was shocked to learn that the vast majority of mass-market sunscreens and tinted moisturizers rely on chemical blockers that break down in sunlight and lose effectiveness after two hours.

Image Skincare Physical Sun blockers:
PREVENTION+ daily hydrating moisturizer SPF 30+
        PREVENTION+ daily tinted moisturizer SPF 30+
        PREVENTION+ daily ultimate protection moisturizer SPF 50
        PREVENTION+ daily matte moisturizer SPF 32+ 


Antioxidant Serum

Another little-known fact: sunscreen only protects against 55% of the environmental damage that causes premature aging. Every single day you should also be wearing an antioxidant serum like Vitamin C to prevent against “free radical damage” like pollution that could make your skin look old sooner. The Image Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum is a favorite amongst the skincare community. 

“This comforting serum is an IMAGE bestseller for a reason: It works effectively on all skin types to soften the appearance of wrinkles, support collagen, and protect skin against oxidative damage. It acts as a wake-up call on the skin to fight the visible signs of stress and fatigue that commonly appear in aging skin.”*


Mattify The Look of Your Skin with A Face Mask

Does your skin tend to look oily during the summer? Then add a purifying face mask!

AgeLess Favorite:
Image Skincare I MASK Purifying Probiotic Mask.

This fortifying mask balances the skin’s natural flora and helps it resist dehydration and imbalance. This deep green mask contains essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to nourish the skin and fight the look of dullness and signs of damage. Purifying green clay and charcoal help to detoxify and clear away impurities, leaving the skin clean, smooth and refined. *


Don’t Forget Your Lips and Scalp

You’re probably already a pro when it comes to putting SPF on your face and body. But what about those forgotten areas like your lips and scalp?

Ø  For the scalp: Wear a hat. Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet (UV) light can still cause sunburns and damage skin. The easiest way to protect your head is to cover it with your favorite broad-brimmed sun hat or a sporty baseball cap.

  • Don’t have a hat available? Try to walk in such a way that minimizes your exposure to the sun. (i.e., walk on the shady side of the street instead of the sunny side, or choose a path that keeps you beneath the shade provided by trees).
  • Also, you can consider wearing a ponytail, bun, or updo. Unlike hairstyles with a part, these will cover your scalp completely, preventing sunburn.

Ø  For lips: I LOVE the IMAGE MD line, Post-Treatment Collagen Lip Enhancement SPF 15.

Formulated by plastic surgeons for maximum results, this ultra-hydrating polypeptide complex visibly enhances the volume of lips AND diminishes the appearance of fine lines. This product is SPF 15 that provides enhanced sun protection and promotes skin health. Paraben free.*

Ø  Not a Fan of Lip Plumpers: Since the sun is extremely drying, keep your lips soft and smooth by using ORMEDIC Balancing Lip Enhancement Complex. Although this product does not have SPF in it, this lip-enhancing moisturizer instantly infuses lips with soothing hydration while improving the appearance and volume of lip contours. It diminishes fine lines and contains a powerful, anti-aging polypeptide complex that supports collagen in the lips, so they look naturally firm and full. Feels amazing on chapped lips and provides lasting moisture for continued healing.


Cool Off with A Mist

Stash a bottle of face mist in your cooler so you can mist your face and body by the pool or at the Beach. Make your own Soothing Lavender & Aloe Vera mist with the recipe below.

DIY Essential Oil Facial Mist Recipe
What you Need:
Rosehip oil
Aloe Vera
Glass spray bottle
TheraPro Lavender essential oil
Step 1: Fill your spray bottle ¾ with water.
Step 2: Now drop in 7 drops of your essential oil.
Step 3: Add a couple drops of Rosehip oil.
Step 4: Fill the rest of the bottle with Aloe Vera.
Step 5:  Gently shake the bottle to combine all the ingredients.

Keep Eye Cream in the Fridge

There’s nothing more refreshing than a cooling eye cream straight from your refrigerator. You can also try cooling your moisturizer:

Image Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Eye Recovery Gel

This cooling gel formula soothes the delicate eye area and improves the signs of aging with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid, wrinkle-altering peptides, and nourishing antioxidants. Featuring our proprietary Collagen Recovery Complex, it helps to firm skin, improve elasticity and diminish dark circles and puffiness.*


Image Skincare ORMEDIC Balancing Eye Lift Gel

A cooling gel brings instant relief to tired, puffy eyes and gives lasting benefits by hydrating delicate skin, relaxing crow’s feet and lessening the look of dark circles. An advanced neuropeptide complex promotes healthy skin functions like collagen synthesis and the strengthening of thin, fragile under-eye skin.*


Create A Faux Glow with Airbrush Tanning or Self- Tanner

The Safe way to get bronzed this summer with Airbrush Tanning Service or self-tanner products.At AgeLess Integrative Medical SPA, we offer Sjolie Airbrush Tanning.

Sjolie Bronze Fusion Sunless Tan Gel

Sjolie’s spray tan solution is made fresh from naturally derived ingredients certified vegan by the PETA Foundation. No parabens or fragrances are present. Only FDA approved DHA is used as the active sunless ingredient.


Don’t Scratch Bug Bites

Often, the price to pay for connecting with Mother Nature is a souvenir of itchy bug bites. We know it’s tempting, but—just like your mother told you—scratching makes bug bites worse and can even cause scarring! Instead, try keeping an anti-itch cream in your purse for any surprise insect attacks.

Therapro Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil can create a cooling sensation on the skin; Helping with burning, stinging, and itching sensations caused by bites or stings. Research suggests peppermint oil may act as an antimicrobial, reducing the risk of infection associated with some bites.

Therapro Tea Tree oil

Tea Tree oil may help prevent bacteria and other microbes from growing in a bug bite and reducing the risk of infection; making it an excellent choice for children who cannot resist scratching.


Prevent Razor Bumps and Burns

Since you’re probably shaving the most during the warm summer months, it’s important to always prepare your skin properly for the sometimes harsh process of shaving. Here are a few shaving-specific tips:

  • Use a body scrub, to gently exfoliate your skin, before starting to shave. Soothing Touch Brown Sugar Scrub
  • Swap out dull blades for clean, sharp razors.
  • Apply a generous amount of shaving cream.
  • Shave with the grain (i.e., the direction in which the hair grows).
  • Moisturize liberally directly after showering.


Slough Away Dry Skin

 Exfoliate during summer, use a scrub on dry skin before you shower. Pay attention to the knees and elbows. Finish with a rich body cream or oil within three minutes after your shower.

Rich Body Cream: Image Skincare Vital C Hand & Body Lotion


Take a Cool Shower

Hot showers after sun exposure further dry your skin. Turn down the temperature. A cool shower after excess sweating can help to keep skin clear.


Drink Plenty of Water

The beating sun can dry your skin and make you sweat more, so keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you’re active, you need to drink at least eight (8) glasses during the day. 

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