Archive for: August 2014

Need Gift Ideas for a Cancer Patient?

HealingInProgressAs a former cancer patient, I can still remember some of the best gifts I received. They were thoughtful gifts of books, meditation CDs, journals, a teddy bear, a handmade afghan, etc. Sometimes they were gifts of taking me out to experience ‘normal’.  Or an understanding friend who just listened and let me talk – or cry.  That often happened.

It’s a time when you are feeling fragile, alone, uncomfortable and fearful of your future. Its different than getting the flu or going in for surgery.  Cancer carries a huge emotional impact that last far longer than the surgery and treatment. It calls up all your issues about mortality.  Issues we don’t normally deal with in our day to day life.

If you aren’t sure what to buy, why not enlist the help of a service that provides healing gift baskets for cancer patients. They already know what is helpful, and if you have ideas of your own, can put together a custom basket.  This works especially well if you do not live close by but still want to be supportive of a family member or friend.

A breast cancer survivor gift – or gift for anyone going through cancer, will almost always bring a smile to their face.  It helps knowing that people are there for you.


Benefits of Tai Chi as Exercise for Cancer

Tai Chi was introduced into my exercise program before I was diagnosed with cancer.  I was living on Vancouver Island and could see myself doing tai chi on the beach.  It was fabulous.

taoisttaichiAs a dancer, tai chi fit my psyche well.  It’s a moving meditation, much like dance.  The gentle flowing movements, so graceful when done well, work the whole body.  The chi (energy force) winds its way through your torso and out through your limbs creating a full body workout, internal and external.  No pain, no stress, no push.  It just is.

Once diagnosed with cancer, I was so thankful I had learned tai chi because I credit the movement with keeping my body supple and strong while going through treatment. It was gentle enough for me to do on the days I had low energy. The movement also helped move the lymph fluid through my arm after radiation and kept me from getting frozen shoulder.

At night, when I went into stress mode, I would quietly go through the gentle movements, expending excess toxic emotional energy which then allowed me to sit quietly in meditation.  I slept!!

It’s a practice you can do for a lifetime, in any circumstance, anywhere, at any age, in any physical condition.  I recall a lady coming to class who had Parkinson’s.  She would sit at the back and work through the moves from her chair.

In summary, Tai Chi is a very beneficial exercise for cancer.  It will help improve strength, provide mediation, be a gentle full body workout, reduce your risk of lymphedema, help prevent frozen shoulder, help you feel better, stand taller physically and emotionally as well as sleep better.

Are You Aware of the Risk of Lymphedema?

It always amazes me when talking to cancer patients that they know so little about lymphedema. Even though it is addressed at the Cancer Clinic as a workshop to attend after your surgery, it seems to disappear down the list of issues to be aware of in terms of risk. Sad, because once you get lymphedema, there is no cure.  You are then into lifetime management.

whatDoesLymphemaLookLikeLymphedema is a risk for any cancer surgery, in particular those where lymph nodes are involved.  This means breast cancer, head & neck cancers, prostate, ovarian, uterine.  When lymph nodes are disturbed or taken out, lymph fluid flow becomes obstructed at this point.  When pressure is exerted on the limb in question (arm, leg or torso, even upper shoulder area), the fluid backs up causing swelling. I go into this in more detail here.

If you already have lymphedema, compression garments are prescribed and need to be worn during activity, at night, and depending on your situation, during the day as well.  As a preventative measure, it’s advised to wear a prevention compression sleeve when flying.  Mine is always in my bag, donned in the airport and taken off when I have picked up my bags.

Please do yourself a favor and get informed.  It will make a huge difference to you.  There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting lymphedema.  You just need to know what they are.