Business Spotlights

Oncology Massage Therapy and Cancer Care Support, Mt. Kisco

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Susan Balamaci photoThere’s something profoundly comforting about Susan Balamaci’s new practice in Mount Kisco.

Oncology Massage Therapy and Cancer Care offers the kind of serene, cozy environment that is a godsend to cancer patients who are looking to restore their bodies from weeks, months or sometimes years of treatment.

A board certified medical-surgical registered nurse and a licensed massage therapist with advanced training in oncology massage therapy (OMT), Balamaci’s gentle demeanor is perfectly suited to this work, a labor of love for this Cross River resident.

Balamaci pursued general massage therapy to help family members deal more effectively with illness. She was later inspired to transition to nursing.

“My vision initially was to become a holistic nurse,” she said.

A career at Northern Westchester Hospital helped fulfill that dream and Balamaci found herself working for the hospital’s Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center as an integrative medicine nurse.

While working full-time at the hospital, Balamaci realized the benefits of Reiki, gentle touch, reflexology and other therapeutic body treatments for cancer patients that were provided through a grant.

Balamaci wanted to offer massage therapy in greater depth, specifically tailored to oncology patients, and it was then that she began to think about opening a private practice but without the clinical feel cancer patients are all too familiar with.

Since opening in August, Balamaci’s space could pass for anyone’s home – reclining chairs, soft and attractive lighting and beautiful art work. There’s even a wig stand in her treatment room. Patients can have a cup of tea after their treatment and read the inspirational books on a nearby shelf.

Balamaci, who has completed advanced training in OMT and is a Preferred Provider of the Society for Oncology Massage (, said this type of massage supports the body rather than challenging it. The process is an adaptation of classic Swedish massage techniques and acupressure that are tailored to each client’s unique circumstances and medical history.

Modifications such as reducing pressure, positioning for comfort, slowing pace and adjusting rhythm, among other strategies, are crucial to ensuring that patients receive the best experience possible, Balamaci said. Having patients lie on their sides supported by pillows and towels is often the best position for the therapy.

“Knowing how to modify and how to adapt is key to doing this work, and that’s where medical knowledge comes into play,” said Balamaci, who is licensed in New York and Connecticut and nationally certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

She said research on this relatively new holistic form of therapy shows it can make a difference in the lives of cancer patients. A recent study conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center involving about 1,300 patients over a three-year period showed that 52.2 percent had reduced anxiety; 40 percent had less pain; 40.7 percent reported less fatigue; 30.6 percent experienced reduced depression; and 21.2 percent had less nausea.

Leading cancer care hospitals that promote OMT include the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and John Hopkins University.

In addition to massage, Balamaci also teaches guided breathing and mindful meditation instruction based on the teachings of Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind/body medicine.

“I want my patients to leave here with ways to stay relaxed and to be able to manage their own emotions, a toolbox if you will, for managing stress and the swirling emotions of this journey,” said Balamaci, who graduated from the CT Center for Massage Therapy in 2004.

“When I have a patient who slept through the night for the first time in weeks or a patient who no longer wakes up with nightmares, then I know that I’ve done something positive, as small as it may seem.”

Balamaci has begun a “Pay It Forward” fund to help those who cannot afford the cost of her therapy by inviting community members (who do not have cancer) to receive massage, donating 50 percent of their fee to the fund, to make the therapy as accessible as possible.

Such treatment is not typically covered by insurance and patients pay privately for her services.

The practice is located at 131 E. Main St., Suite 212, in Mount Kisco. For more information, call 914-589-3226 or visit

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