Estrella Apothecary & Spa offers free massages to cancer patients

Nissa Valdez, owner of Estrella Apothecary & Spa. Photo by Michelle Bruch

Once each month, Nissa Valdez gives a free massage to a client with cancer. Now she’s accepting donations that will fund more massages and facials for cancer patients on-the-house.

Valdez trained for 300 hours to earn certification in oncology massage in 2010.

“It’s a very specialized type of work,” she said.

She said oncology massage is gentle and takes each individual’s treatment, side effects and medications into account. She said that for someone with a low blood count, any amount of pressure can be dangerous, and she’s careful to ask each client the right questions.

“There are a lot of invisible factors,” she said.

Donations are taken at the register.


Estrella, a no-tipping spa, was founded in 2001 and opened at its present location in 2014. Valdez said she decided against tips to help her customers continue to relax on their way out the door.

“It’s a strange thing at the end of a relaxing service to go into a different part of your brain and work that out,” she said.


Estrella also carries natural skin, body and hair care products at 2515 Nicollet Ave.

“I really pore through the ingredients before anything comes in here,” Valdez said.