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Webmaster | 7. October 2008 @ 13:00

As women, especially American women, much of our femininity is centered on our breasts. No matter where you look, there are pictures, billboards, commercials, television shows, and movies with women with these beautiful breasts and ample cleavage. The thought of losing one or both breasts, to breast cancer, can be devastating for many of us. Sure, there's reconstruction, but will it ever really look the same again? Even if you have reconstruction, you'll never have sensation there again and, for many of us, that definitely affects our sexuality.

I went through two separate mastectomies, for my breast cancer, despite the fact that I wanted them both done at the same time. Two different surgeons told me that wasn't necessary. They found out, later, that it was, as I had the same breast cancer in both breasts. Through these surgeries, I learned a few things about what to expect, and how to get up and running again, after a mastectomy for breast cancer.

The first thing to realize is that, apart from the emotional aspect of such an operation, this is a simple surgery. The breast is composed, mostly, of fatty tissue and, of course, milk ducts and lobes. The removal of this breast tissue is way easier than operating on an organ, but carries much more emotional impact for most of us. Most surgeons will get as much of the breast tissue out as they can to help alleviate the chance of a recurrence of your breast cancer. You will typically wind up with a horizontal scar about four inches long. The scar may be red for quite a while but, ultimately, should fade to where you can hardly see it anymore.

You want to be sure to take loose-fitting, button-down shirts (raiding your hubby's closet is helpful) with you, to the hospital, as you won't be able to raise your arms over your head for a while. You will also need a sports bra and I would highly recommend one that fastens in the front. They will put that on you after your surgery. Typically, you should be able to stay in the hospital for one night. If you're going to have lymph nodes removed, a small pillow, to slip under that arm, will help make you more comfortable. Check with your local American Cancer Society as they may have small pillows for you. An extra pillow to hold to your chest, if you need to cough, sneeze, or laugh, can help keep your incision from hurting.

When you wake up, you will have a couple of drain tubes for each side you have done. These tubes are important as they allow the excess fluid, which your body will produce, to drain out. If you didn't have them, the fluid would have to be aspirated with a needle. The drains, even though they're no fun, are better than that. These drains will have to be emptied a couple of times a day and you will have to write down how much fluid you drain so the doctor will know when you've slowed down enough to remove them. You may not know where to put these drains under your clothing. I pinned mine up to the sports bra and that way, they didn't pull when I moved.

When you get home, plan on having someone there to help you for the first few days. You won't be allowed to reach into your cabinets and definitely won't be able to clean house or pick up your children, if you have little ones. You'll be sent home with pain meds and definitely take them if you need them. Studies show that you will heal faster if you keep yourself out of pain, so don't be afraid to take them as prescribed.

If you have a recliner, you might consider moving it into the bedroom as you won't be able to lie flat for a while. You'll need to sleep in a partial sitting position. If you don't have one, or don't have space for it in your bedroom, lots of pillows will work, too. That's what I used. Just be sure you have enough pillows to keep yourself comfortable propped up.

If you would like someone who's been there before you to visit with, be sure to call your local American Cancer Society and ask for a Reach 2 Recovery volunteer. This is an American Cancer Society program where they try to match you with one of their volunteers who have as similar experience as you're facing. This woman will come visit you and will bring you all sorts of brochures and information on conventional treatment. She will also bring you a list of exercises you can start to do to regain your mobility and range of motion.

This is VERY important. It hurts to stretch your arm up, after surgery, but if you haven't had reconstruction, and you don't start soon, you will lose that range of motion. I would recommend starting to gently, slowly reach your arm up … let your body be your guide … the day after your surgery. This is ONLY if you have not had reconstruction. If you have, let your plastic surgeon tell you when to start stretching. Push to where it hurts just a little, but do not push too far past that. Little by little, you'll find yourself able to stretch a little farther every couple of days.

Most of all, allow yourself to heal emotionally, as well as physically. Some of us just can't look at that incision right away. That's OK. Take as much time as you need. I know I felt like some kind of freak with no breasts and, even six years later, I still do sometimes. But remind yourself that these scars are your battle scars. They do not make you less of a woman. They make you a warrior.

About The Author: Melissa Buhmeyer is a breast cancer survivor and has been so for seven years. She is also the founder of http://www.breastcancer-treatment.us, a site focusing on breast cancer treatment options, news, articles, and survivor experiences.

HT~ Breast Cancer :: Comments (0) :: Link
Webmaster | 6. October 2008 @ 13:00

Taking every opportunity to distribute my marketing material for my new book, I stopped by a children’s clothing store one Sunday afternoon. Upon leaving the parking lot, my six year old son caught a glimpse of “those ribbons with two lines”. In my half-engaged attention, I acknowledged his observation that there were “more than three” on this one particular car. From his persistence to gain my feedback, I began to focus on our conversation. I informed him that I was not exactly clear of what he meant by the description of this two-lined ribbon. “You know…the red one…the boob problem…and the…”. Ground zero! I realized that he was speaking of the Awareness Ribbons that so emphatically adorn various vehicles these days. I started to chuckle at his innocence in remembering my recent 15-minute explanation of breast cancer as “the boob problem”. After we enjoyed the moment, I struck a more serious note to remember that the disease is far from funny and can leave heartache and devastation in its vicious path. In fact, according to Dr. Susan Love, breast cancer affects 110 women every day.

My first encounter as a Personal Trainer with a recovering breast cancer client came quite a few years ago and meeting her was quite an experience. If you have ever met a breast cancer victor you will notice that their eyes reflect a beautiful understanding of life. My encounter with my client came while I worked at a swim and racquet club. Even the way she approached me was filled with grace. Wanting to strengthen her body after the illness, she inquired about a weight training routine. She had a beaming, yet subtle smile with each simple question that she asked of me. To look at her would never disclose of her recent pain. Her hair was a typical short style of a middle-aged woman and her legs still presented the years of tennis that kept her fit. I was honored to take the position as her trainer and we worked together on a program toward rebuilding her body for not only the purpose of strength and endurance, but to attain a touch of inner peace as well.

Recovery from breast cancer is not so different a program than simply exercising to avoid such a catastrophic event in a woman’s life. If you have followed fitness for any amount of time, visited your doctor or taken a class in school, the informative path to righteous living is well paved with getting the blood flowing and the heart pounding. In turn, you increase your chances of avoiding disease (heart-related, cancer, diabetes). Likewise, if you have successfully battled the disease and yearn for a method of attack against it recurring or simply want to lessen the unpleasant after affects, the all-knowing finger will be pointing in the same direction…the local gym. Even as early as the 1980’s, research was proving that aerobic exercise improved fatigue levels and nausea in post cancer patients. Fast forward to present and the benefits have multiplied over the years. Subsequent studies indicate that weight training, aerobic exercise, and fitness emphasizing mind and body (i.e., yoga) all have a substantial impact of up to 25-50% improvement on pain, fatigue, overall optimism, the general fitness level of the individual and how much a person can improve their quality of daily life, complete with energy-draining tasks.

It is clear that exercise plays a tremendous role in helping breast cancer survivors feel better. So what are the details of program design? First and foremost, you want to stay clear of stress on the surgical or stitched area. Next, and just as important, begin with the usual 10-15 minute warm-up, no matter if you are doing weight training sets, a cardio routine or a number of yoga poses. It is after this warm-up that variety begins. For resistance/weight training exercises, you will want to start the initial phase of your program with a lowered weight volume but with up to double the repetitions. Elastic tubing and bands are also a good start for the first phase. Though you may not be directly working the muscle tissue in your surgical area, many muscles work together in stabilizing another muscle’s contraction. The lesser weight will insure that your wound is not overexerted to soon. The standard 2-3 sets are appropriate with 15-20 repetitions.

Another area of exercise is that of cardiovascular training. Cardio machines such as the treadmill or elliptical machines are acceptable and can be used for 3-4 days per week. In your initial phase of a recovery fitness routine, you may want to follow an interval program where you begin the session with a higher-intensity minute followed by a low-intensity minute totaling up to thirty minutes. As your condition improves, you can reduce your low intensity minute to 30 seconds and eventually eliminate it all together.

Finally, mind and body exercises such as yoga go a step further in fitness. Not only are you strengthening your body, you are also tapping into inner peace with each slow and controlled breath. Ideal for achieving relaxation, this type of training can be utilized for as little as 5-15 minute a day and still present positive results.

While breast cancer awareness has reached far heights as that of former president, Bill Clinton, who signed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000, it does not stop the fact that the disease continues to take more and more lives. While a cure is currently elusive, preventative measures are not. Engaging in a fitness program that includes healthy eating, routine exercise and positive mental development is a safe bet of increasing longevity.

About The Author: Sherri L Dodd is the creator and author of Mom Looks Great - The Fitness Program for Moms. She is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant and Kickboxing Instructor with over fifteen years of exercise experience. She has lectured to groups on her fitness plan and is a freelance writer on the topics of fitness and general nutrition as well as the humorous side of motherhood.

momlooksgreat.com

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