Clearing your drains

I haven’t written my blog for a while, as it’s nearly two years since my treatment ended, and I seem to be in pretty good shape, god willing.  I still see a physio once a week to help restore me back to full health.  At first it was because of the tension in my back, but now I am learning so much more about how the body works and how to support it.

One of the knock on effects post breast cancer, particularly after an operation, chemo and radiotherapy is that the lymphatic system can be damaged  Your underarm lymph nodes may have been removed, or perhaps reinserted after examination, plus radiotherapy in particular can mean you are unable to sweat from your underarm.  As this is a major gland for removing toxins from the body, I was worried my impaired lymphatic system would damage my future health.

person raising her hands
Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

There are various things you can do to support your lymphatic system.  The simple act of swinging your arms above your head and then downwards invigorates the lymphatic system.  Also a gentle massage of your collar bone helps drain those toxins away.  More than this, just breathing properly has an incredible effect on the body.  My physio told me to do big belly breaths, five counts for intake of breath, then five for holding and then five for breathing out.  Really push your belly out as much as you can.  This aids the lymphatic system and also helps to release stored emotions in the body.

For some reason, I had stopped breathing into my belly, perhaps for thirty years or so – really breathing into it, so your belly balloons out.  My breathing had become so shallow, that my diaphragm barely moved.  Why was this?  Perhaps I had subconsciously trying to avoid my deepest feelings, or perhaps I’d read some teenage magazine which said that pushing out your belly was unattractive….who knows.  What’s for certain is that now my back seems straighter, and I feel more connected physically and mentally.

Whilst working on my back and spine, my physio said there were all sorts of blockages in my body.  These can be due to emotional shocks, past accidents or operations which can disrupt the flow of energy in the body, hence leading to illness further down the line.  When my physio first tried to stretch my neck by pulling my head, I froze, and feared she may actually pull my head off – probably due to an old ski injury when my neck got caught in the rope barriers leading to the ski lifts!  So over time, my physio is unblocking my body and I feel so much better for it, not just physically, but by unblocking my body, my life seems to flow more easily.  Breathe and move, and do those things you used to do when you were a kid – a handstand, swinging like a monkey, dance around and sing.  Singing is also great for the lymphatic system and for relieving stress.

Try and tune into your body and what it’s trying to tell you.  The lymphatic system is really important (who knew!) and it helps you stay disease-free.

 

 

 

Breathing In

One of the first people I spoke to on receiving my breast cancer news was my friend Clare.  Clare is a ball of energy, always positive and vibrant.  She drove up to see me immediately, and boosted my spirits, not only giving me the confidence that I would get through this, but also talked to me about changes I needed to make in my life.  Her Mum Catriona sadly lost her husband to cancer, and has since become and expert on alternative medicine, and the importance of diet.  She is just like her daughter, full of energy, and a real inspiration.

blue-sky-merge-clouds-675977.jpegCatriona sent me lots of information on  supporting the body, one of which was Oxygen drops.  The theory behind it is that in our industrialised societies, our bodies are receiving less and less oxygen, which is making it harder for the cells to repair themselves thus creating illnesses such as cancer.  As I already live in the countryside, I decided not to take them, but it did reinforce the importance of exercise during this period.

During chemo I felt pretty dreadful most of the time, but I was by no means bed-bound, just lacking in energy, coupled with rather dark thoughts, as the chemo coursed through my body.  One of the other side effects, especially towards the end was little pains in my thighs and hip area.  I forced myself to go out walking every day, or on my bicycle if the weather wasn’t too grim.  I was especially buoyed on by my sister, who always has lots of energy, and if she wasn’t with me, I would still make sure I took the dog out, for thirty minutes or so.  Not only did it take the pains away in my thighs, but for the first time I consciously breathed in the oxygen into my lungs, and I really felt its benefits.  I would return home with colour in my face, a little more tired, but less depressed that I had been staying in the house.

I’m also bringing meditation into my daily routine, being conscious of my breath, in order to reduce my stress levels as well as clear my head.  I’d neglected this in my pre-cancer life, and think it’s important going forward.  I’d also read quite a lot about breathing into my belly – this is where your emotions are stored so breathing in (four counts in, six counts out) is a really good way of relaxing.

I don’t want to sound like Mr Motivator, as at the time it was really hard, and still is,  but on reflection, I am really glad I managed to do it, most days at least, and I think it’s helping my body to recover now as I go through radiotherapy – physically and mentally.