Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Therapies & appointments

Offering one-to-one support when you really need it

Individual sessions offer personalised care and attention, and support for any lifestyle changes that you want to make. We encourage everyone to attend an Introduction day or Living Well course before booking an individual appointment, in order to gain an overview of the Bristol Whole Life approach to cancer.

Therapies to support your mind, body and spirit.

All the therapies we offer are designed to promote deep relaxation and help your immune system to work at its best. They are not a cure for cancer, but can provide relief from the symptoms of the disease and its treatment, and support the body’s immune system to be as strong as possible. You can read more about the evidence base for our therapies here.

We can offer four therapy sessions free so that you can try individual therapies and discover what works best for you. Additional sessions are available for £40 each or £10 for those eligible for any kind of state benefit. If you’re not sure where to start, book a personal planning session with us.

If you’re uncertain about the best things to eat, or are struggling with appetite or digestion, then a nutrition session can really help. With some great tips for getting the most out of your food, this is a chance to discuss our simple Healthy Eating Guidelines and discover recipe ideas that suit you.

Managing your diet is a simple and important way to take back some control of your own health, and our Nutritional experts can help you every step of the way.

Exercise Therapy

Movement and physical activity are hugely important for our immune systems and overall health, but cancer (in fact any major medical treatment) can make exercise a real challenge.

Our experienced Exercise Therapists can develop a programme that reflects your fitness levels, helping you stay active whatever your physical condition. We are currently offering therapeutic exercise classes through Move Dance Feel and The Bodyworks Project.


Shiatsu is a bodywork therapy from Japan-based on the principles of acupressure. Pressure is applied to points around the body so that energy can flow more easily. This can improve blood circulation, release feel-good hormones (endorphins) and help free the body of toxins.

This therapy can help with a range of symptoms including pain, nausea, depression, anxiety, poor appetite and sleeplessness. People who receive the treatment often describe feeling deeply relaxed and peaceful after a session. This can often lead to new insight and a sense of hopefulness.

Shiatsu versus massage 

The main difference is that the client remains clothed and it’s recommended you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.

The techniques used in a session are slightly different. Shiatsu uses gentle rocking and stretching, palm and thumb pressure, stillness and passive movement of limbs as opposed to more traditional massage techniques. Both therapies are aimed at tension release, relaxation, body awareness and integration of the cancer experience.

What happens in a session? 

  • A session usually lasts about one hour.
  • For your first visit, your practitioner will ask questions about medical history, health, diet and lifestyle.
  • Treatment is generally carried out on a futon-style mattress, which is low down on the floor. If clients can’t lie down, then shiatsu can be practised sitting up, on a treatment couch or massage table.
  • At the end of the session you’ll be advised to drink water and relax for a while, before returning to normal activities.

What are the benefits/outcomes of a session?

Shiatsu is offered to people with cancer to enhance wellbeing and mood, and to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, nausea and vomiting. People who have had shiatsu report better symptom control.

Research studies asking people about their experiences with shiatsu reported:

  • Increases in energy levels.
  • Better relaxation.
  • Increased feelings of confidence.
  • Better symptom control and mobility.
  • Improved clarity of thought and a restoration of wellbeing.

“Shiatsu gave me a profound sense of acceptance of all that I have gone through – both emotionally and physically.”

Is it safe?

If practised by a suitably trained therapist, who is experienced working with people with cancer, shiatsu is considered safe. For those with low platelet count, osteoporosis, or those in the first three months of pregnancy, the practitioner will use a more gentle form of shiatsu.

Our practitioners

Both Penny Brohn UK’s shiatsu practitioners have been with us for a long time and are well experienced in the therapy.

Markus Heimpel has been at Penny Brohn UK for nine years. He has been practising for 25 years and for the last 12 years has been teaching shiatsu.

Alex Turner has extensive experience teaching and practising shiatsu. He has been a core member of the therapy team at Penny Brohn UK for seven years and also teaches Qi Gong and relaxation techniques, as well as provides acupuncture at our regular Treatment Support Clinic. Alex has been both director and a teacher at The Devon School of Shiatsu and is a registered teacher and fellow of the Shiatsu Society.


Our massage therapists are fully qualified and experienced in working with people who have cancer. They offer a range of techniques to aid with overall health and wellbeing, circulation and relaxation.

This technique can also help overcome a loss of confidence, helping you come to terms with a changed body image. Many people also find an unexpected emotional release and help with feelings of isolation and fearfulness.

Have you tried shiatsu? 

Shiatsu is an ancient bodywork therapy from Japan and has many similarities to massage therapy. You can read about this practice above.


Reflexology is a technique using the thumb and finger, to apply pressure to points on the hands or feet. These areas are thought to be connected to organs and glands within the body.

This technique can help with pain, sleeplessness, nausea and constipation. It can also be deeply calming and relaxing, helping to reduce stress and anxiety and helping the immune system to function better.

Art Therapy

A psychological therapy that uses a mix of art-making and talking to help you communicate and reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Art therapy is not about creating “good art”, however the therapist can help you to use and experiment with a range of art materials.

Art Therapy can help you to:

  • Manage stress and anxiety.
  • Provide a safe way to express and come to terms with difficult feelings.
  • Understand yourself better.
  • Express fears or worries that may be too upsetting to talk about with words alone.
  • Connect to others and feel less isolated.
  • Find joy and meaning.
  • Develop your creativity, confidence and self-esteem.

Make informed choices about your cancer experience with our evidence based information sheets.

Individual Art Therapy sessions 

From Friday 6 December you can take part in six sessions of Art Therapy with Student Art Therapist, Johanna Harward.

Music Therapy

Music therapy involves using a range of accessible musical instruments or listening to music in a relaxed state. This is led by a professionally trained therapist. No musical ability is needed to benefit from music therapy.

Music therapy can help you to:

  • Improve anxiety and pain before, during and after cancer treatment.

Find out more about music therapy and its benefits in our evidence based information sheet.

Individual and Group music therapy sessions

Group and individual sessions are on offer at Penny Brohn UK’s National Centre as eight week programmes with Student Music Therapist, Paul Fernie.
Group sessions will be held on Friday afternoons and individual sessions will be held on Fridays and Mondays.

Healing Therapy

Healing is a gentle, supportive and calming therapy offered through light touch or through hands held close to the body. This process helps the free flow and balancing of energy and can increase vitality, helping the body’s own ability to heal and repair through the immune system.

The therapy is not offered as a replacement for medical treatments, but to work alongside them: we offer it as an aid to physical and emotional wellbeing, and for its potential to reduce stress, depression and anxiety.  It may also help with nausea, pain and severe tiredness.

We recommend healing for help in living a fuller, more balanced life, and to aid acceptance and peace at the end of life. Our approach welcomes and respects all faiths and religions.

A client recently recorded a song, after a session with our therapist to show the benefits of healing therapy. Listen to it here:

Applied Relaxation

Applied relaxation teaches you how to become deeply relaxed. We will show you how to help your body relax more completely, through progressive muscle relaxation and breathing exercises. Sessions may include mindful meditation and the use of imagery to help with specific situations such as preparing for and undergoing treatment.

We can provide you with a CD of different relaxation exercises to try at home to help you discover which techniques work best for you.

Supporting someone?

Being close to someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer can have a major impact on your life as well as theirs. It can be just as hard for you as it is for the person with the diagnosis. That’s why we offer support to the loved-ones of those living with cancer because you are just as important.

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