Self Help: Do It Yourself Reflexology

by Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel (with Amy Brennan)

In your toolkit for cancer healing, you might want to consider reflexology. Quite some time ago, I attended a workshop and learned some basic reflexology techniques that I could do myself. With my interest piqued, I bought a couple of books about reflexology and started learning how to help myself.

Since that time, I’ve used the techniques to stop a migraine in its tracks, an affliction I was predisposed to for years. Thankfully, they have passed – touch wood!! I’ve also been able to help others get rid of stress and headaches. When I’m working on myself, I can actually feel the ‘ping’ or ‘shock’ of energy reconnection. I’ll explain that shortly.

It’s definitely a non-intrusive and inconspicuous method, especially when you do it on your hands. Wherever I am, whether it’s an airport, in meetings, workshops, or at work, when I’m stressed, feeling tired, not in sync, or tense, I can sit quietly and work on my hands. No one notices. I feel better.

How does Reflexology work?

Reflexology works on our energy system. Here is a simplified explanation that I’ve used when trying to explain it to people that have never experienced energy work:

“The body is like an electrical circuit board. We have energy cycles (electrical currents) running throughout our system. When we are under stress, have surgery, are injured, etc., these energy cycles can be disrupted and blocked. Energy work, such as reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, etc. sense the blockages and through different modalities of treatment, work to reconnect the flow of energy. When connected, we have improved circulation, increased power, and better health – much like your computer that needs cleaning up when it is functioning at less than optimum power.”

This is the reason for the ‘ping’ or ‘shock’ I mentioned above – the feeling of reconnection somewhere in my body where my energy was blocked.

Reflexology is a technique you can teach yourself if you do not have access to a trained reflexologist. There are many how-to books (these are the ones I used) and videos:

  1. Hand Reflexology: Key to Perfect Health by Mildred Carter
  2. Helping Yourself with Foot Reflexology by Mildred Carter
  3. The Joy of Reflexology: Healing Techniques for the Hands and Feet to Reduce Stress and Reclaim Life by Ann Gillanders

YouTube videos

  1. (DIY Foot Reflexology Massage)
  2. How to Do Hand Reflexology on Yourself|Reflexology

As with any technique, it is always more effective to have someone else do it, such as a trained reflexologist. This practitioner can also give you at home tips to keep the effectiveness of their treatment going. Therefore, by learning to do it yourself, you can create a sustainable benefit by helping yourself.

How does reflexology apply to cancer healing?

Clearing out energy blockages will immensely help your body heal. In an article by Amy Brennan, based in the U.K, she discusses some of the benefits of reflexology (on the feet in this article, but also works for the hands) for those going through cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy. There is also a reference to the benefits for lymphedema.

Reflexology and Chemotherapy by Amy Brennan

Reflexology is a gentle non intrusive treatment carried out upon the feet alone, using reflex points that correspond to the body systems.

Reflexology is highly beneficial in alleviating adverse side effects of chemotherapy, by helping the patient to deeply relax, it also helps to reduce the level of anxiety, helping patients cope with the distressing symptoms of pain and nausea, the results reveal that treatments produce a significant and immediate effect on the patients’ perceptions of pain, nausea and relaxation.

There is a myth that because reflexology rids the body of toxins, that the chemotherapy won’t work properly. There is no evidence to support this and there is a wealth of evidence about the positive results patients have felt.

Many people who have cancer and who have used Reflexology say that they find it helps ease some of their symptoms or helps them cope with the side-effects of treatment. Other people say that they just find it a very pleasant way of relaxing.

Reflexology is used by many people undergoing treatment for cancer, and Reflexology is included at complementary therapy centres within cancer units at Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, Harley Street Clinic, and Lister Hospital as well as being offered at many Macmillan cancer relief hospices and day care centres, with very good results.

Many patients say that as well as enjoying the relaxation and stress relief they also feel able to cope with the physical side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

It’s also an important factor in having time for themselves and a person to talk to that is not a part of their family and in many cases, being able to voice their problems and fears without worrying about the effect on close relatives or friends.

Reflexology is a good treatment for helping those that suffer with lymphoedema (swelling of limbs) after surgery to remove lymph glands, as it helps improve circulation and lymph flow and the Reflexologist can work over the specific reflex points for the affected area. In some cases the limb affected with lymphodeoma can be quite painful; Reflexology is very gentle and effective and in such cases is a good compliment to lymphatic drainage massage.

Overall Reflexology helps to improve the circulation and lymph flow, which benefits all body systems and organs and aids deep relaxation and better respiration and mobility, helping patients to relax and cope with the physical side effects of their treatment.

(Amy Brennan, former Director of Find a Reflexologist Ltd, UK , register of fully-qualified Reflexologists, and hub of Reflexology on the web – information now available at

With this information at hand, I encourage you to explore this ancient and highly effective way to help yourself heal throughout life – not just when going through cancer treatment.

Happy learning,


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