Wednesday 7th March marked the final day of a Cancer Touch Therapy training course, provided by the Made for Life Foundation. It’s an opportunity for qualified massage therapists to develop their knowledge and understanding of how to effectively perform spa treatments on someone who has or has previously had cancer.

The three-day event was held at the Health & Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro and is an initiative founded by Amanda Winwood, MD of Made for Life Organics.

Mark Innes, who leads the courses, spoke to Truthfal at the event. He said: “I have a background in the NHS; I was a paramedic in London for 23 years and in latter years a massage therapist, so it’s been really useful in researching and developing this course for people with cancer. I’ve known Amanda for 10 years and we’ve been working together on this project, along with Laura, now for the past two or three years. We’re getting very busy and finding more and more spas are wanting to open their doors to people with cancer.

“There’s been a lot of fear in the industry. In the past people have been turned away with cancer for all the wrong reasons, we now understand. We need to stop being so fearful and excluding people at a time in their life when they really need nurture and comfort. The emotional impact of being turned away is awful, especially when they don’t need to be.”

Mark Innes pictured here

The course is accredited by the Complementary Medical Association (CMA), meaning that insurance is then provided to spas whose therapists have undergone the training. This gives spa staff the confidence and the wherewithal to accommodate people who disclose cancer as a precondition.

We spoke to Laura Kelly, head of marketing for the Made for Life Foundation. She said: “This is day three of a three-day, postgraduate course and we invite guests from the local region who have their own cancer journey to come in for a free treatment; to be our ‘models’, as we call them very glamorously.”

We asked her why this kind of training was necessary. She said: “96% of spas in the UK presently if you tick that you’ve had cancer in the last five years, will say ‘unfortunately we can’t give you a spa treatment today’, which is obviously very distressing for everybody involved; the therapist, as well as the guest.

“So we’re on a mission to help change that by imparting knowledge to our already highly qualified therapists who have got anatomy and physiology and treatment training, but this is an additional insight into what needs to be changed and adapted for people who have been treated for, or are living with cancer.”

Julie Treneer, who was at the event to receive a massage treatment from a newly trained therapist, spoke to Truthfal about her experience with cancer. She said: “Life was pretty good. Trundling along. Then I got diagnosed with breast cancer, stage three. So, the last two and a half years have been very bumpy. Once you get diagnosed your whole world turns upside down.”

We caught up with her just after her massage and asked her how it was. She said: “Oh it was amazing. Really light, but really relaxing and I just forgot everything. The products smell lovely.”

With the mainstream media recently flagging up the issue of people with cancer being turned away from spas, the Made for Life Foundation initiative is playing an important part in preventing this unnecessary discrimination.

For more information about the work that the charity is doing visit their website