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  • Massage for Breast Cancer Survivors

    There are multiple complications that can come from breast cancer and its possible surgeries. I have a client at this time who opted for a left side lumpectomy. They also had to remove 26 lymph nodes from her left axilla, and she had chemo and radiation. Her main issue is lymphedema in her left arm and hand, as well as her left chest. She did not get much medical support for her lymphedema. As she tells it no one at Kaiser really knew where to send her. They did send her to one of their in house massage therapists for her lymphedema. The therapist told her, “I don’t really know what to do with that, so we’re just going to ignore it.” I combine SMRT with lymphatic drainage massage for her sessions. Anything even mildly deep sets off her lymphedema. SMRT is as light as lymphatic drainage massage, but unlike lymphatic drainage it lets me open up the scar tissue in her axilla and at the site of the lumpectomy directly without using pressure and remotely.

    A deep tissue massage therapist I saw when I was teaching out of town had a single left side mastectomy with an axillary node dissection of eight lymph nodes. She planned on having reconstruction surgery so they placed an expander under pectoralis major on her left side during the surgery. I saw her four weeks after the mastectomy. She was unable to lift her left arm above shoulder height. She had been getting massage for about two weeks when I saw her, and she had been instructing the massage therapists she was seeing to do deep work on her shoulder and arm. Her pain increased after each of these sessions. I told her immediately that she was having lymphedema in her left arm and that deep work would exacerbate her issue. I used SMRT alone to work the scar tissue in her axilla and along the anterolateral ribcage. Doctors want the expanders to fit tightly, to adhere and create a nice pocket for the future implant. But her subcutaneous fascia was adhered to the superficial muscle wall and was causing her tremendous pain. She commented on how light I was working on her, then she said, “but I feel better than I have in weeks.” When she sat up, she had substantially more range of motion in her left shoulder.

    Another client had a DIEP flap done. A DIEP flap is when they make an incision from hip to hip in the lower abdomen and remove tissues from that area to put into the chest. She had aggressive breast cancer in her early thirties, a double mastectomy, chemo, and radiation, with three lymph nodes removed from her left axilla. Her pain is in her right shoulder and her lower back. Her right shoulder because she has a fascial pull that begins under her right breast and pulls her shoulder forward and down. This has given her bursitis in the subacromial bursa. Her lower back issue comes from a fascial pull that begins at the incision in her lower abdomen. Her doctor told her, “we’re going to give you a tummy tuck while we’re there.” Then he pulled the skin and fascia toward the incision from every direction. I use SMRT all by itself to unlock the fascial issues in her right ribcage and breast, and I use SMRT in combination with dry fascia work to open up her lower abdomen, lower back, sacrum, and hips.

    Being able to quickly and painlessly work with people who have thrived through this hardship is a blessing. I would love to teach you to use SMRT to work with all of these issues and more in Full Circle’s SMRT: Shoulder, Axilla, Ribcage, & Upper Back course, which will only be offered three more in 2015 – June 26-28 in Grand Junction, CO; October 9-11 in Kalamazoo, MI; and November 6-8 in St. Petersburg, FL. Join us by registering at https://efullcircle.com/workshop-schedule/