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Fighting Breast Cancer, With A little Bit Of Pampering

2:40 PM, Oct 19, 2011   |    comments
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Washington DC (WUSA) Fighting breast cancer can be draining on a patient's body, mind and spirit.  But a little pampering and relaxation can improve a survivor's health and well-being.

Women go to the spa for relaxation & pampering. But after Deborah Parker's lumpectomy, her spa days became part of her rehabilitation to treat painful Lymphedema. The swelling in her left arm started after surgery to remove lymph nodes.

"[the] Surgeon gave me a a series of exercises to do that involved wall crawls with my hand, also doing circular motion in both arms."

It worked, but Deborah found seeing a PRO in lymphatic manipulation was even more effective.

Ken Brown is one of the certified massage therapists at The Medical Spa @ NOVA. It offers a variety of targeted services for breast cancer survivors. "It's like a space suit; you feel like you're gonna blast off."

To relieve Deborah's lymphedema Ken uses the Balancer.
"It moves in a squeezing motion up the arm from wrist to shoulder to encourage lymphatic drainage." 
Deborah's reaction? "I got immediate relief from the discomfort in my arm." 

Effective in a different way, Deborah gets a hydrotherapy massage. Therapist Tish Craig says Deep tissue or Swedish massages are not recommended for lymphedema patients.

"If you have an indentation in the skin you're gonna close down the lymphatic system. You're not gonna get the drainage that you're looking for."  Instead of finger pressure Tish uses a water jet hose. "At a light pressure, it just kinda moves the fluid thru the body and deep pressure it really gets into the musles and really relaxes the muscles."

The session last 50-minutes and that includes a nice long soak.  Studies show therapeutic massages have no adverse effects. And they help to reduce depression, anxiety, even anger in women with breast cancer.

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