People with cancer should be given access to massage, writes therapy specialist John Holman It was George Bernard Shaw who said: “All progress depends on the unreasonable man “and the pioneering oncologist Dr. Simonton was one such fellow. What he suggested in the early 1970s was considered almost heredical for a traditionally trained doctor; namely, that patients diagnosed and being treated for cancer could be helped better by combining orthodox science with a holistic mind-body approach that included massage, meditation and positive thinking. Now considered one of the true pioneers in cancer treatment, Simonton followed this approach from 1978 until his death in 2009 and not only was he honoured by the American Medical Association, but he also co-authored two books which are now considered standard texts for those studying oncology in the US. Dr Simonton stated that while there is “no contraindication to good quality therapeutic massage for people with cancer; there is always a contraindication to poor therapeutic massage.”This sentiment was reinforced by one of the foremost oncologists of the modern era, Professor Karol Sikora, who in the forward of Patricia McNamara´s 1994 book Massage for People with Cancer , wrote that it “challenges the concept that massage is always contraindicated because of the contention that might cause tumour cells to break off and spread. There really is no evidence for this contention.” And yet, here we are today, still concerned about massage and cancer some 37 years after Simonton´s groundbreaking work began and 21 years after Sikora´s contention of risk was made clear. Unfortunately, our profession-not to mention many of the industry´s insurance providers-choose on the whole to remain in this state of needless confusion about massage and cancer, despite the evidence all around them. This evidence not only includes statements from highly reputable scientists, but also the incredible work of the hospice movement here in the UK, considered by Professor Sikora to be “the very best palliative care system in the world, bar none” and which has provided massage and complementary therapies for its patients for more than two decades. How much evidence do we need? Denying anyone the construtive power of touch, which is one of the most fundamental of all human requirements, at a time that they need it most is tantamount to cruelty as far as I am concerned. Even worse than that is basing the refusal of massage on outdated beliefs and unfounded science. Over the last 17 years , my company has been truly privileged to have trained numerous massage therapists who treat people with cancer in the hospice environment. We have coopeerated with the likes of radiologist Charlotte Mc Dowell, who was instrumental in setting up the Fountain Centre at St Luke´s Cancer Centre within the Royal Surrey Country Hopsital, as well as Jacqui Mexson, formerly of the Myton Hospice Group. Education is the only way to defeat the naysayers, and our profession desparately needs “unreasonable”leaders who will challenge the status quo to really make a difference and ease people´s suffering. Meet the expert John Holman is the creator of a three-dimensional massage system called Hydrotherm, designed to solve theproblem of massage therapists damaging their wrists and lower backs. His company. John Holman THerapy Solutions, provides post-grafuate training in 3D and pregrancy massage and recently launched the new tranquil-c-massage for people suffering from cancer.