Eleanor Oyston

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Over recent years I have worried about the rapidly increasing number of highly skilled or qualified folk that disappear into ‘retirement’ or worse, ‘early retirement’! As technological advances ‘crack on’ a pace the challenges of staying in touch with our areas of interest or expertise multiply exponentially, as if they are out of our aging reach! I entered the world of oncology massage as an ‘over 50’ scientist. After 10 years running a developmental neuroscience research laboratory at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University in Canberra I defected to the ‘dark side’ and studied remedial massage. The career change to massage school was the best decision. I struggled with the societal attitudes towards the massage community as I had enjoyed prestige as a clever little scientist. Even my hairdresser’s sister was at massage school. I made a giant leap and looked at myself… I was an academic snob. As I let go of my ego I began to learn so much about how the body ‘feels’ from the outside. I know the science of what is thought to be happening on the inside of our body (what every cell looks like and what it is ‘supposed’ to do) so I began experimenting with techniques that had nothing to do with musculo-skeletal function. I was feeling the ‘pathology’ of congested fascia and amazingly I knew so much about what I was ‘feeling’. The years in a pharmacology research lab were providing insights and adventure. Thankfully the patients were responding extremely well. Their relief, relaxation and comfort encouraged me to write down what I was seeing and feeling. I found Gayle Mac Donald’s text book and Tracy Walton’s magazine article on contraindications that affirmed my work. The Society for Integrative Oncology came into being in the early 2000's and I attend the first conference in New York City 2009, my air fare donated by a friend with cancer who was my ‘test dummy’. So at 53 my new career was ‘steaming ahead’. Now with over 20 years as a massage therapist, the joy and heartache of developing and teaching a very high level massage course in Oncology Massage that is constantly under medical scrutiny, I have learnt a lot that I hope will support and enhance integrative medicine. In 2007 I won an award from ANPA for Journalism. I wrote about massage as the conduit for integrative medicine. As cancer survivor-ship increases massage plays an important role, especially when CIPN is a consequence of treatment. Compassionate touch could be a service provided by cancer services around Australia and the world.


Googong, NSW 2620


  • Dip. Remedial Massage Therapist (RMT)
  • Bowen Practitioner
  • UTS-ARCCIM International CIM Research Leadership Fellow
  • Tuina - TCM Beijing
  • S4OM Recognized Education Provider - Oncology Massage Global