Should I be giving cancer patients spa treatments for free?

business insights & tips understanding your clients Oct 17, 2021

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Providing oncology touch treatments as a job is exceptionally rewarding.

We all wish it was a need that didn’t exist. If we could wipe out cancer tomorrow, we would. However, since that isn’t currently an option (maybe one day), it is an enormous privilege to be able to provide some respite from the symptoms of cancer and its treatment side effects through the healing power of touch.

The question of running a business that’s services are designed to support someone going through an extremely difficult time, can be a sensitive topic. So, it’s understandable that lots of therapists feel uncomfortable charging clients with cancer for the therapies that they provide or are unsure how to go about it. Many feel pressured into providing treatments free of charge. I can understand that, so I wanted to take a moment to offer my thoughts.

It’s ok to be paid for the work you do

I think just about all of us who have a therapist mindset would like to provide treatments for free, all the time, to anyone who needed them. It’s incredible to see the difference a massage can make to someone who is struggling, whether that’s with their physical health, emotional health or mental health. Therapists provide enormous value to those who experience treatments, and without them we would definitely be the poorer.

However, in order to be able to do our job as therapists, and do that job well, we need to have the time to do it. To have the time to do it, it’s necessary for us to be paid for our work. There is no shame in that, and from the feedback that we receive from clients, we know that they would agree.

Not everyone wants to be treated differently

It’s also important to remember that not everyone wants their treatment to become about their cancer. In fact, most cancer patients we speak to are horrified at the thought that people will treat them differently as a result of their diagnosis.

Many men and women want to go to a spa environment and have their treatment just like anyone else. They just want to be able to have their massage/facial etc. This was one of the founding principles of creating our therapist training - so that people would not be turned away from spas because of a cancer diagnosis. The ability to adapt therapies means that a fuss does not have to be made and discretion can be maintained. Clients may well not want special treatment beyond knowing they are being suitably cared for. For them, your oncology training means that they can have access to the spa treatments they love, and that’s all.

Volunteering at charitable organisations

That said, there are also some fantastic charities that exist, including NHS trusts, whom therapists can give their time to voluntarily, so that there is no cost to the patient.

I think dedicating a set amount of time, whether it’s weekly or monthly, in order to put the therapeutic skills you have learned to use in a voluntary capacity, is a wonderful way to provide anyone who has experienced cancer, with options. You can even advertise the charities that offer free treatments within your working environment (if the boss allows), or on your social media channels, so that there is transparency about the availability of options for those who want it or need it.

I completely understand the feeling of wanting to provide free spa treatments, and if you’re in a position to do so then that’s wonderful. However, therapists should not feel obligated to provide oncology touch treatments for free in their place of work. You are enormously valuable in what you do, and you are very much needed and appreciated. That you have chosen to make sure you can support anyone who comes through your door, including vulnerable clients, is a testament to your quality as a therapist, and it’s ok to be paid for that.

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