Spreading the massage

Steven Murdoch in his Palmers Green treatment room
Steven Murdoch in his Palmers Green treatment room

Palmers Green massage therapist Steven Murdoch on how he has been able to give something back to the NHS staff who saved his life

Volunteering as a complementary therapist has given me the perfect way to say ‘thank you’.

Last month saw the reopening of therapies such as massage and reflexology. Like many other massage therapists, lockdown has presented me with many challenges, but it also brought a very special and personal opportunity.

Last November, I received notice through my professional association that University College London Hospital (UCLH) was looking for volunteer complementary therapists to offer much-needed treatments for a new NHS staff wellbeing project.

When I realised it was the UCLH, I couldn’t believe it. It isn’t too far-fetched to say that if it weren’t for the amazing staff of this hospital, I wouldn’t be alive today.

In 2017, at age 49, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember the meeting at UCLH with the consultant urological surgeon. He was pretty straightforward. He told me I was young to have prostate cancer and described the tumour as having both animal cancer cells and monster cancer cells. He said it was a very aggressive cancer and if we didn’t act, I would likely only live another few years.

As I left the appointment, the consultant’s words were ringing in my head. “Let’s not mess around. We’ll remove the whole prostate. Animals are bad enough. We definitely don’t want more monsters.”

Three weeks later I had a prostatectomy for the removal of my prostate at UCLH. The size and positioning of the tumour meant the procedure wasn’t straightforward. This meant more time in hospital and more time under the care of their brilliant staff.

While in hospital, strangely, I feel like I’m going into a place of worship – I have that much gratitude and reverence towards the staff. I’ve wanted so much to give something back, and now I am.

UCLH is innovative and pro-complementary therapy, so it is no surprise to see a staff wellbeing project like this being launched. I have been volunteering at the hospital since early March, giving clinical massage treatments for pain relief to staff referred through the occupational health team.

Similar to my Palmers Green treatment room, at the hospital I am treating musculoskeletal pain conditions, such as low back pain, tendinitis, and shoulder rotator cuff injuries.

It is still early days for the project, but there is so much gratitude – and not just from those receiving the massage. I’m pinching myself to have this opportunity to give something back to the staff of a hospital that means so much to me.

For more information about Steven Murdoch Clinical Massage:
Call 020 7661 7044
Visit stevenmurdoch.co.uk