Massage therapy enhances body and mind
By Ana Veciana-Suarez
Photography by Jeffery Salter
Massage therapist Karen Lipay adjusts her massages for Michael Tyler’s medical needs
ichael Tyler was recovering from spinal fusion therapy when he was diagnosed with two different cancers — bladder and prostate. He began an accelerated, intensive type of chemotherapy and underwent surgery to remove both organs in September 2020.
“I didn’t have bad nausea,” he said, “but I did have a lot of fatigue.”
Determined to manage the symptoms associated with the cancer and its treatments, he began oncology massage sessions, which employ a modified version of existing massage techniques.
“Massage has helped tremendously with the pain and side effects,” he added. “It was also pivotal in helping with the mental side of my diagnosis.”
Sylvester massage therapist Karen Lipay says the therapy does not involve deep-tissue work but rather is a “gentle, comfort-oriented massage” that she adjusts according to the patient’s needs.
“We get information from the patients’ doctors on what is needed,” she said, “but we also work closely with the patients’ needs to help them heal not only physically, but also mentally.”
Some patients are initially reluctant, Lipay added, thinking it is yet one more appointment to keep. “But when they realize what this can do for them, they’re super happy for the resource,” she said.
Tyler looks forward to his sessions, explaining that he considers the massage staff at Sylvester his friends.
“My mood is always enhanced after I leave,” he said. “In general, I think I’m a lot nicer. I’m more patient.”