Sheryl O’Brien | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Patient Stories

Shirley O'BrienThis time last year Sheryl O’Brien was happily working and making plans with her husband, then in December she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ and everything changed.

After three lumpectomies and a series of genetic tests, Sheryl found out she carries the BRCA2B gene which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in women. She had a double mastectomy in March and breast reconstruction surgery in August; through all her surgeries, oncology massage has been a constant.

Sheryl said: “I was shell shocked when I got the diagnosis. I didn’t have a lump or any symptoms; it was very frightening.

“I had a lot of physical pain after my surgeries, and my range of movement was severely impaired because of the mastectomy. I had a lot of tension and knots in my back, as well as a lot of muscle spasms. My energy was absolutely shot, having so much surgery in such a short period of time. For me, massage has made such a difference!”

Lifehouse massage therapist Lizzie Milligan loves providing supportive services as part of the LivingRoom team: “I get to meet such amazing and interesting patients. They present with their own unique experiences and challenges. I see first-hand how powerful gentle mindful touch can be for some patients. It can make a real difference to muscular restrictions and scars, and relieve tension. After a massage patients report feeling more confident, mobile and greater connectivity to their bodies.” [For information about some of the studies looking into the effects of oncology massage, see the link below.]

But it’s not just physical care that Lizzie provides; it’s supportive as well. Sheryl said: “Lizzie is very empathetic and understanding. She knows when to talk and when I need to be quiet. When I see Lizzie it’s time out for myself. Not only are there physical benefits for me, but it’s a little time when I don’t have to worry about the impact of my cancer on everyone around me.

“I’ve met so many amazing people on my cancer journey, all the doctors and nurses, and everyone in the LivingRoom. It’s great to see that humanity is alive and kicking – there should be more Lizzies!”

To make an appointment to see one of our oncology massage therapists, contact the LivingRoom on 8514 0038 or email For more information about oncology massage, click here.

To read about three studies into benefits of oncology massage, check out the information at the bottom of this page on the Cancer Council’s site:…/massage-and-cancer-benef…/

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