This was news to me. I had always heard about lymphedema in a limb whether it was an arm or a leg. But I had never understood that lymphedema could also present itself in the torso – and even in the neck region.
In this instance, compression sleeves – arm sleeves or stockings – won’t work. What is needed is a compression camisole – similar to the Spanx garments available. There is a difference though. Spanx is one level of compression. Compression garments have graduated compression that moves the flow of lymph along the body.
You can get bras that are also compression bras with a torso section rather than a band. This again will help you move the flow of lymph along relieving any swelling. There are also compression vests that will work the same way.
Please note that proper diagnosis and treatment is highly recommended for any sign of lymphedema from a qualified lymphedema specialist and/or oncologist. A prescription is required with the proper compression levels indicated, especially if you are claiming the cost on a medical plan. The earlier you identify the problem, the better your chance of reducing the severity of the lyphedema and thereby it’s impact on your lifestyle.
As women, we know that sooner or later, we are facing menopause. With menopause come the hot flashes and night sweats. There are the lucky few women who are never affected by these, but most of us are.
And, with chemotherapy, menopause is often a side effect. For some, it goes away after treatment depending on your age. For others, it continues.
Moisture wicking clothing will help, as the name suggests, wicks the sweat away from your body. Another solution is to find bed linen (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) that regulate temperature keeping you cool. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to change sheets in the middle of the night?
The combination of wicking sleepwear and temperature regulating bed linens will help relieve the discomfort of the wet and damp allowing you to get a good night’s sleep – so needed for healing.
For many centuries, healing gemstones have been used to promote any number of situations – health, prosperity, power, and in this case, stress relief which will assist the body to heal.
These wonderful healing gemstones can be worn as jewelry, carried in a medicine pouch, or admired as stand alone gems on any surface.
Since stress relief in healing from cancer is a major component of the process, I’ve listed below the top 10 gemstones that can be helpful.
- Amethyst (Master Healer) – is a natural stress reliever.
- Citrine – relieves stress related digestive problems.
- Clear quartz – clears energy blockages in the body to allow energy to flow through.
- Fluorite – can bring peace of mind and comes in different colors.
- Garnet – is associated with health and energy.
- Hematite (Anti-stress Stone) – for protection and grounding.
- Malachite – enables transformation, assists in clearing and cleansing all of the chakras.
- Rose quartz – for unconditional love, fosters empathy, reconciliation and forgiveness of others, lowering stress and the tension of the heart.
- Smokey quartz – for grounding and balancing.
- Turquoise (Master Healer) – helps to connect the mind to the infinite possibilities of the Universe.
Whether you wear these gems, or carry them, or display them, they will work their magic. Besides, they are beautiful to behold.
Chemotherapy most often means hair loss. After treatment is over, hair does grow back in. It takes a month or so to get more than a bit of stubble (as in the picture – 2 months after treatment), but eventually you will have your hair back.
Interestingly, it doesn’t always come back the same as before. For some, it comes back really curly as mine did. For others, it can even change color. I’ve seen people who had black hair before who now have red hair or grey hair. And unfortunately, for some it comes back much thinner and never improves.
For those whose hair comes in really curly, know that eventually the curls will soften and again, for some, you will go back to the type of hair you had before treatment.
Going forward, you will want to take care of your new hair the same way you look after your skin – using organic skin care and hair care products. Some people even decide to not dye their hair (if it comes in grey) or use any chemicals. Your choice. After cancer, the fewer chemicals you submit your body to the better.
Deciding what might be a helpful, appropriate and inspirational gift for a cancer patient is often difficult. What do you get?
Suggestions I’ve heard – and gifts that were given to me – that hit the mark are:
- Books – uplifting and inspirational books.
- Journals – find ones with a spiral spine and with blank pages as well as lined pages. This allows for some creativity – pasting in pictures – drawing, etc.
- Gift baskets – find some that have useful items – could be a self-care theme, food theme, etc.
- Music – lots of options here. Uplifting, meditation, calming . . . so many choices. I found I needed calm and relaxing to ease the stress of treatment.
Does that get you started? All of the above items will be welcomed and gratefully received. Do you have other suggestions? Please share.
Not sure what winter is like where you live, but I think a lot of people are experiencing an unrelenting winter. Lots of freezing cold with snow and ice. When it warms up, the snow melts during the day. Then at night, it freezes. When the snow comes again, it just covers up the ice making for treacherous sidewalk and road conditions.
For those of us who like walking, it sure has put a damper on our enthusiasm. Two people close to me have broken legs by slipping on the ice. My dog limps at night on her surgery supposedly healed leg from slipping and sliding on the ice.
Okay, enough about ice. The point is exercise still needs to happen. Whether trudge to the nearest mall to do your mall walking or stay at home to do tai chi or yoga inside, you need to stay active to keep the energy and oxygen coursing through your body. Oxygen heals..
Here’s to spring – when it finally arrives. We’re about to have a warming trend in Alberta in a couple of days. Will be absolutely wonderful to take off a few layers and get outside in the fresh air. My dog will love it too.
Do you remember sprouting beans? I do and my favorite were mung beans. They tasted so fresh and crisp. When my son was little, I used to put a few in a cup for him as a snack. He loved them and I knew they were a healthy snack option.
Nowadays you can buy prepackaged sprouts in the grocery store. However, I find they just aren’t as fresh as the ones you sprout yourself. And, it isn’t that difficult, it just takes a little time.
Sprouts can then be added to salads (awesome in coleslaw), sandwich fillings (try them in egg and tuna salad sandwich fillings for extra crunch) and stir fries. Sprouts are fiber-rich and packed with vitamins and minerals as well as protein and sometimes even essential fatty acids.
If you are looking for foods that fight cancer, sprouts are an excellent addition to your menu. And, they are easy to sprout yourself and inexpensive. Why not pick up some organic sprouting seeds and give sprouting a chance.
Several issues arise after a mastectomy which are not always apparent in the moment. I’ve heard a few variations of similar themes among my ladies when they get chatting in class. Here is the gist of some of these conversations.
- It rides up. When the band around your chest under the bra is too narrow, the bra tends to ride up on the side of your mastectomy. Having a wide band or better yet a torso band will help keep your bra in place.
- Hurts on the side. Often an envelope of skin or skin tags are just where the bra side seam sits. It hurts and rubs. Look for bras that have no side seams.
- Can’t reach around the back anymore. This happens when shoulder mobility is compromised. There are lovely front closure bras for this situation.
- They don’t breathe. Menopause happens after chemotherapy, so finding bras in cotton or an absorbent material is critical to absorb sweat.
Finding mastectomy bras that feel comfortable, look good, and are functional will help your self-esteem. You will feel and look great knowing that your underpinnings are in place and will stay in place.
Are we saying ‘prevent’ lymphedema – no. We’re saying ‘reduce your risk’. There are many ways you can do this. Awareness that lymphedema can happen to you at any time after your cancer treatment is a start.
It’s been 23 years at time of writing, and I still am careful to take the following steps to give myself an edge in reducing my risk of getting lymphedema. It doesn’t pay to ignore the possibility it can happen to you.
- Keep your affected limb clean. If you get a scratch, insect bite, anything that might make you susceptible to infection, use a disinfectant immediately.
- Be aware when lifting heavy objects. Anything over 15 lbs. can create undue pressure, especially if you have an arm or torso at risk.
- Wear a preventive compression sleeve when you travel by air. I always have mine and wear it. Not only does it help me while in flight, it also reminds me to be careful when I lift my baggage off the baggage rack.
- Exercise – keep the lymph fluid moving – gentle exercise.
These are just a few tips. For more details about lymphedema, get your Free Report here.
There is a lot of research on this topic. For sure, exercise is healthy for everyone. Our bodies are designed to move and stay active. This is what’s sad about today’s lifestyle – we spend way too much time sitting – in the car, in front of computers, watching TV, etc. You know how much you sit. It’s being identified as the ‘sitting crisis’.
Exercise aside from strengthening our body, keeping us flexible so we move with ease and improving posture, it builds our oxygen capacity. Cancer cannot survive in oxygen. It would stand to reason that having a body whose cells are full of oxygen would discourage the growth of cancer cells.
One great exercise I still do that helped me through cancer was tai chi. It was slow, graceful, and gentle. Yet at the same it, it connected my body/mind/spirit, created flexibility, and became a moving meditation. I loved its ability to calm me down.. I now teach tai chi and do it regularly along with walking and teaching dance classes. At my age, 70, I intend to keep agile and able to keep up with my grandchildren, plus travel and do all the things I enjoy in my life. What about you?