Reflexology is one of the most popular complementary therapies in the UK for people with cancer. Reflexology is a type of massage, which involves the application of digital stimulation in the form of gentle pressure applied using the thumb and fingers to specific areas on the feet or hands.

HRCC Get SupportAlthough there is no scientific evidence, some people claim that reflexology helps them to:

  • Feel relaxed and able to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Helps to relieve pain
  • Lifts their mood and creates a feeling of wellbeing
  • Reduces nerve tingling and numbness from cancer drugs (peripheral neuropathy)

What to expect from Reflexology

On your first visit or over the phone your therapist will ask you some general questions about your health, lifestyle and medical history.  Your initial treatment will be shorter to accommodate this if completed within the centre.

During your reflexology session, which usually lasts around 45 minutes, you will be asked to remove your shoes and socks, then lie down on a couch. Your therapist will then wipe your feet with baby wipes to remove fluff etc. then apply a little carrier oil to moisturise the skin and to facilitate the gentle movements.

Most people say having reflexology feels relaxing and soothing, but pressure on some areas may be uncomfortable. Your therapist might tell you that this discomfort relates to problems in a particular part of your body. Generally, reflexology doesn’t cause many side effects, you might feel a bit light headed after treatment and occasionally clients report having tender feet. You are recommended to drink water after your treatment.


Aromatherapy is one of the most common complementary therapies to be offered to patients in cancer clinics and hospitals. Aromatherapy is the inhalation and/or application of aromatic plant extracts known as ‘essential oils’ to promote health and wellbeing. 

There are more than 400 essential oils made from the flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves, root or bark of certain plants. Aromatherapists believe that using oils can have health benefits, such as relieving stress. A small number of these oils, including lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus are used for people with cancer.

Essential oil is thought to work in two ways;

  • Absorption through the skin via application like massage.
  • Inhalation stimulated by your sense of smell to set off a reaction in your body.

There is some evidence that aromatherapy massage can help with side effects, which are due to cancer or its treatment including anxiety, pain, depression, stress and tiredness. It has also been suggested that breathing in the vapours from certain oils seems to reduce nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. 

Essential oils are highly concentrated preparations and should only be prepared and administered by someone with the appropriate training.

What to expect from Aromatherapy Massage

On your first visit, your therapist will ask you some general questions about your health, lifestyle and medical history.

They will choose the essential oils based on the clients preference and the presenting symptoms and will dilute them to a 1% blend with a carrier oil.

During your aromatherapy session, which usually lasts around 45 minutes, you will be asked to remove the clothes from the area to be worked (trousers, shoes and socks for leg massage) then lie down on a couch. Your therapist will then cover you with a towel before starting the massage.

Aromatherapy massage is very gentle as the main focus is allowing the essential oils to be absorbed into the skin.

Bach Flower Remedies Essence Therapy

Back Flower Remedies consist of 38 different homeopathic prepared solutions to help with various emotions  or states of mind -such as: anxiety, fear, worry.

The essences have no physical effects on the body and when taken as instructed they are safe to use alongside cancer treatments such as surgery, cancer drugs, or radiotherapy.

Bach Flower Remedies require a consultation/discussion with the therapist to determine the most appropriate remedies for your presenting emotions at that time. The therapist will then make up a blend in a small dropper bottle for you which will last approximately three weeks.

To take the blend you can drip the solution onto your tongue or mix with water and/or a drink. Some people with cancer find that using essences can help them to feel better mentally, emotionally or spiritually, as well as reduce emotions such as fear or anxiety. The time taken for people to notice a benefit can vary and everyone’s response is unique.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

Lymphatic drainage massage is a form of gentle massage that encourages the movement of lymph fluids around the body. We are only able to offer this treatment if your GP is based within Mid Essex CCG.

Our MLD therapist uses a range of specific, gentle, rhythmic pumping techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow. This encourages the reabsorption of lymph and stimulates the lymph vessels to move the fluid. The lymph system is involved with removal of waste products, transport of fluid and defence of the body. MLD is an effective component of the treatment and control of lymphoedema (which may occur after cancer treatment).

We only provide MLD for cancer patients with secondary lymphoedema (where the lymphoedema developed as a result of cancer treatment) and have been referred from a healthcare professional (consultant, oncologist, cancer nurse specialist or GP).

After receiving the referral you will be contacted for an assessment. The first visit will include a consultation during which the therapist will explain the structure and function of the lymphatic system, assess the extent of the lymphoedema and measure for compression garments if required.

During the session, you will be asked to remove the clothes from the affected section of the body; if arm then all clothes from upper body, if legs all clothes from lower body apart from underwear.  You will then lie down on a couch where your therapist will then cover you with a towel.

MLD techniques use no oil, creams or talc as gentle skin resistance is required. 


Living with cancer can be the most challenging time of your life. Shock, grief, and fear are just some of the emotions you may deal with. It can be hard for loved ones to give you the emotional support you need while you’re going through treatment and it can be really difficult for you to be completely honest with them.

HRCC CentresIt can be useful to talk to someone from outside your support network who has been trained to listen. Our Counsellors can help you explore your feelings and talk through confusing or upsetting emotions. We can provide a neutral space for you to talk openly about how you are feeling while also allowing you to put aside the brave face that you put on for family and friends.

Talking to our Counsellors experienced in cancer issues can ease the sense of isolation you may feel and help you find ways to face the challenges ahead. We can help identify, treat and start to heal the pain and turmoil caused by these experiences and feelings. It can also create some mental and emotional space inside to be able to consider what to do next – irrespective, or even despite, what the diagnosis might be.

We provide counselling to patients during or after treatment but it can sometimes be beneficial for family members and loved ones too.

If you feel ready, contact our Support Centre team today and make the first step to getting support while living with cancer.