In April, I will be sharing my passion for working with people with cancer, and training others who want to use yoga as a tool to help those on the cancer journey. When I stepped on this path, I struggled to find information to help me develop my yoga classes, so I began collecting information. Years later, I'm calling on my experts to help me explain what we've discovered along the way.
One of the long-term side effects of cancer treatment is lymphedema, a swelling of the body due to scar tissue and lymph node removal. There isn't a lot known about lymphedema, other than it's inconvenient, uncomfortable, embarrassing, debilitating at times and life-threatening at other times. It's mostly associated with breast cancer, but there are risk factors that affect everyone. In the past, it was believed that we need to immobilize the affected area... now we know that isn't the right approach and that lymph needs to circulate in order to maintain health.
A question I am often asked is,
"If I have cancer in my lymphatic system, should I be working to move the lymph, or will that spread my cancer?"
I posed this question to our expert, and this is her response:
My personal view on this question is that manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) does not move cancer cells. Cancer cells invade slowly (sometimes quickly too); the cancer cells devour healthy organ cells before traveling onward to continue healthy tissue destruction. Moving lymph fluid is a slow and gentle process, like breathing. To my knowledge, breathing is not linked to causing cancer metastasis. What scientific evidence concludes is that "...increased lymphatic flow from MLD is not associated with cancer cell metastasis," (Klose 2013).
Rochelle Brannan is a physical therapist (PT) who specializes in working with lymphedema. She will be a guest lecturer in my training program, discussing the ways that we can prevent swelling and promote circulation. Here's a little more about her:
An active member of Oncology, Orthopedic and Policy specialty sections of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Ms. Brannan received her Bachelor of Science from UNC-Greensboro and a Master of Physical Therapy degree from University of Kansas City Medical Center. Presently, Ms. Brannan is preparing to take the Lymphology Association of Northern American (LANA) exam this spring.
With over twelve years of full time clinical practice, primarily in outpatient orthopedics, Ms. Brannan integrates her orthopedic and lymphatic knowledge to produce successful functional outcomes for each patient. Ms. Brannan believes
"It is essential for all breast cancer survivors to receive greater education, instruction and referral resources for decreasing post-operative complications from oncology treatments."
Welcome, Rochelle! We are all looking forward to hearing how we can support our immune systems and prevent lymphedema. If you want to know more about this training, click HERE.