Complementary therapy service for young people on the 3rd Floor of the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre.

Frequently asked questions

We are delighted to offer a dedicated complementary therapy service to young people receiving care on the 3rd floor Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) day care. This is thanks to the generous funding of the UCLH Charity Cancer Fund.

We offer massage, aromatherapy inhaler sticks and aromatherapy massage.

Massage is a gentle, relaxing therapy that can be done with or without oils, over clothes or directly on the skin. You may sit in a chair or lie down to have the massage. Massage can be given to specific areas of the body such as your back, neck and shoulders, feet, hands, head, arms or legs. The therapist may suggest an area to massage but the choice is yours if it is safe and comfortable for you to have it.

Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from aromatic plants. You can choose oils that have a pleasant smell (for example to take your mind off being in hospital). And the therapist can suggest oils that have a therapeutic effect. Essential oils may be calming and relaxing, uplifting or energising, they may help you sleep, or they may help with symptoms such as nausea or lack of appetite. The aromatherapist can blend the oils to give you an aromatherapy massage or make you an aromatherapy inhaler stick that you can use at home or in hospital when needed.

An aromatherapy inhaler stick (or ‘aroma stick’) is a pocket-sized inhaler that has a blend of essential oils in. You can inhale the oils wherever and whenever you choose. It doesn’t need to be plugged in to anything. You can just unscrew the case to enjoy the effects and pleasant smells of the oils. The therapist will explain how to use it and give you written instructions which include safety information. They’ll also give you advice on how to feel relaxed when you use it. 

This depends on the complementary therapy you have and where you’re having your session. You will need to take your shoes and socks off to have a foot massage. Or roll up your trousers to have your lower legs massaged with oil. If you want your shoulders or back massaged with oils, you will need to take off your top clothes. You can choose to leave your vest or bra on (you could unfasten your bra). Or take it off if you prefer. We will make sure that your privacy is respected when you have complementary therapy. For example, we will cover your chest with a towel if you’re having a massage and use the curtains or screens for you to get dressed and undressed behind when they’re available. Massage can be done over your clothes if we don’t use aromatherapy oils. Or you can just have your hands, face or head massaged. It is always your choice. Getting an aromatherapy inhaler stick involves no touch at all.

Yes of course. You could choose to have an aromatherapy inhaler stick first. If you’d like to try a complementary therapy that involves touch you can discuss it with the therapist. Let them know what you feel comfortable with, then try it. If something doesn’t feel comfortable, tell the therapist and they’ll ask you if you want to try something different or stop. They’ll always respond to what you want and need. Most people love complementary therapies but they’re not for everyone. It’s fine to try it out and see.

Just tell the therapist. We can nearly always find a way of doing a massage that feels comfortable even for the most ticklish people.

Complementary therapy is available on alternate Wednesdays and Thursdays. Ask your nurse or youth support worker for the dates of upcoming sessions.

You’ll have the session on the 3rd floor of the Macmillan Cancer Centre. You can have complementary therapy sitting in a chair while you’re having an infusion. Or on a couch or chair somewhere else in the TYA area.

First, we’ll spend a few minutes asking you some questions to find out what complementary therapy you’d like and to make sure that you’ll be comfortable during the session. If you have a session that involves touch, it usually lasts about 30 minutes. Or you can have a shorter session, if you prefer. The session can last up to 45 minutes in total.


An aromatherapy inhaler stick can take anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes for us to find out from you what you want it for and then to make it.

Yes, you can have a parent or companion with you.

Ask your nurse or youth support worker to add your name to our list on a day that you are at the Macmillan Cancer Centre and the service is available.

It depends if there is an appointment available. Talk to your nurse or youth support worker to see what might be possible if you think your companion could benefit from a session.

The service is provided by the UCLH Macmillan Support and Information Service complementary therapy team. All therapists are employed by UCLH.

All therapists in the complementary therapy team are fully qualified and experienced doing the therapies they offer. They are registered with a professional standards authority regulated body for the therapies that they do. This means that they have met the required standards of training, they undertake continuous professional development and follow a code of conduct. All therapists also have specialist experience of working with people who have cancer and young people.

It depends if there is an appointment available. We want as many people as possible to benefit from this charitably funded service. So, we can’t guarantee to offer it to you more than once. However, talk to your nurse or youth support worker as they may be able to add your name to a reserve list. And the therapist will offer you a session if they can.

If you are 18 years old or over, you can also have up to four sessions of complementary therapy as an outpatient in our therapy rooms at the Macmillan Cancer Centre. And you can have complementary therapy when you are admitted to a UCLH hospital ward. Just ask your nurse or youth co-ordinator on the ward to refer you.

If you’d like to donate to UCLH Cancer Fund to support the complementary therapy service for teenagers and young adults at the Macmillan Cancer Centre, please click here. This will help us to continue the service in the future.