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.
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.