Resort Tailors Services for Cancer Patients and Survivors

LEESBURG, VA—Words have the power to uplift and the human touch can be soothing. It’s been said that true customer service starts with understanding people and their needs.

“You don’t have to be a physician to provide healing to another person,” said Michael Stephens, managing director, Lansdowne Resort and Spa, A Destination Hotel.

Located in Virginia’s wine country, the property’s 476 acres stretches along the Potomac River and beckons guests to renew and restore while taking in nature, outdoor activities, mind- and body-wellness opportunities and health-centered meals.

One program, in particular, focuses on cancer patients and survivors. Touted as the first-of-its-kind in the Mid-Atlantic area, Lansdowne Resort and Spa’s oncology spa programming at its Spa Minerale has been serving visitors for nearly a year. The resort partnered with Healwell, a nonprofit that specializes in providing hands-on therapy for people affected by acute, chronic and terminal illness, to train spa staff on proper massage techniques.

Treatment room at Spa Minerale

Treatment room at Spa Minerale

“We wanted to offer a program that could benefit individuals and families going through various stages of treatment. The goal was to make the spa accessible and a place where any individual could come to heal,” said Stephens. “Many cancer patients and doctors aren’t aware that patients undergoing treatment can safely receive a massage from a trained oncology massage therapist. In addition to the important benefit of relaxation, a massage during treatment can measurably decrease common side effects like pain and anxiety as well as mitigating depression, fatigue and nausea.”

He explained further, “Oncology massage is also ideal for cancer survivors; many cancer survivors don’t realize the ways in which their bodies have been permanently affected by treatment, but most people who have been treated for cancer at any time in their lives would be best and most safely served by receiving massages from a massage therapist who has been trained in oncology massage,” he said. “A properly trained massage therapist can make important adjustments for issues related to scar tissue, range of motion limitations, energy level, Lymphedema and a host of other long-term, but often overlooked, effects of treatment.”

The resort also added a community component, working with local charity Team Mathias, whose mission is to help support families and research efforts while raising awareness for all childhood cancer.

“This helped us with an understanding of what needs we may be able to fulfill, and how family members and close relatives of cancer patients are affected by this disease,” he said.

Cancer patients are often in various stages of treatment at any given time; the resort has an intake process for guests to better understand their individual needs and explain what services are available.

“Each guest will go through a consultation to discuss options for massage treatment. The only oncology services currently offered are massage,” he said. “Spa Minerale’s oncology menu, ‘Road to Recovery,’ includes the Road to Recovery Massage, which is a modification of existing massage techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment for anyone who has ever received cancer treatment—from those in active treatment to those in recovery or survivorship.”

Stephens hopes that others will notice how impactful small actions might be and integrate similar programs.

“I believe that there was a misconception about how patients undergoing treatment shouldn’t be touched or receive massage. Healing is not only through medication,” he said. “Healing is through touch and interaction with others, which is what we provide at Spa Minerale. I think this program has been able to help not only patients, but their friends and families.”