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Breast Cancer and Lymphedema. Is There a Relationship?

We all have cancer cells running throughout our bodies. Every day we have about 30 cancer cells growing and traveling inside the body. The Lymphatic System (LS) is in charge of getting rid or neutralizing them. However, when this system is sluggish, the lymph  fluid and nodes retain toxins and the LS easily becomes clogged. So, the defense mechanism of the mighty Lymphatic System is reduced. In this opportunistic condition, cancer cells can thrive and multiply randomly. Unfortunately, breast cancer and lymphedema can result.

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Breast Cancer and Lymphedema Awareness

When the lymph system is flowing properly, its defense mechanisms are in top shape and all is well! It’s the mighty LS working! However, a clogged Lymphatic System is instrumental in cancer development.

 

Imagine now, a clogged LS pressed on by wired bras, influenced by hormone imbalances and daily stress. Sure, you guessed it! This is a perfect mix for breast cancer to show up.

 

The second cause of death in the US is breast cancer. Right now, over three million women – among them our sisters, friends, family and neighbors – are fighting breast cancer.

My sister is a brave breast cancer survivor for over 10 years. She had had surgery with lymph nodes removed and went through radiation, hair loss, nausea, fatigue and all paraphernalia that comes along with cancer therapy.

 

Most women who are affected by this disease also travel the same infamous road of cancer recovery. However, fewer women know that this traumatic, sad breast cancer story may not end here. Cancer survivors who had lymph nodes removed and/or radiation therapy are “at risk” for Lymphedema. Their chance for developing this serious disease is greatly increased with breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer and lymphedema are closely associated, unless preventive measures are taken.

 

But, What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling caused by lymph fluid build up in body parts. Lymphedema is a chronic disease caused by impaired Lymphatic System.

 

Lymphedema of the arm and upper trunk is the most common complication after breast cancer treatment.

 

The road to lymphedema begins with an impaired Lymphatic System.  Unable to properly drain the lymph fluid the LS causes lymph fluid accumulation and swelling. The lymph fluid becomes stagnant. When stagnant, the protein content of the lymph begins to harden. So, fibrotic tissue shows up. Protein molecules will also attract more water to the already swollen area. Left untreated, swollen increases,  skin bursts resulting in inflammation and repetitive infections. The body part affected gradually swells even more. Over time, it loses its natural shape and function. Over the years, if untreated lymphedema spreads to other body parts.

 

Usually, lymphedema develops slowly. It’s almost undetectable for years. It’s an insidious disease that can start immediately, months or even years after undergoing breast cancer therapy. It’s onset is mostly unpredictable.

 

Though lymphedema affects about 3 million Americans, the detection, gravity, development and problems caused by lymphedema are poorly understood by the medical community. Insurance companies in the US don’t pay for the life time treatment lymphedema requires.

 

So, lymphedema is almost an underground disease. Very few people know about it.  Doctors and medical insurance companies ignore it. Lymphedema sufferers have a tendency to hide it.

 

Today, because of  lack of information, lots of people have a devastating incurable disease. However, with some information and certain precautions, lymphedema can be avoided or managed if developed.

 

Lymphedema after breast cancer should not be feared provide precautions are taken.

 

Stay tuned for Part II and III. Learn how to identify edema and lymphedema, types of lymphedema, ways to prevent it, how to manage it, lymphatic yoga and more!

 

Stay well! Much love to all!

 

Lymphatic Yoga Workshop in France 2014

I’m still “jet-lagged” but couldn’t wait to share some exciting news with you!  I just arrived from South France. I was invited to teach a Lymphatic Yoga workshop in France next summer at the Marcevol Monastery in the Pyrenees Mountains!!!
Le Canigou

Le Canigou – Amazing view from the yoga room

The Marcevol Monastery is located on the famous “El Camino” or “St. Jacques Way.”  Today, this monastery is not active anymore as a monastery but as a place of visitation and yoga and meditation workshops.
This is a breathtaking place! During the practice we will be facing and contemplating through the windows “Le Canigou” the highest mountains in the Pyrenees. According to tradition, these mountains and the St. Jacques Way have an indefinable spiritual aura and powerful healing atmosphere. We’re all going to soak in this amazing energy field for 6  to 9 days (optional) practicing and understanding Lymphatic Yoga. Can’t wait!
I’m so happy I can share this with you  :)
I’m going to teach in English from Monday, Jun 30 to Tuesday, July 8, 2014.  We are also going to do some walking or hiking trips to visit some of the sites in the area. Walking is a sure way to move your lymph fluid. Walking in the St. Jacques path deeply feeds your inner soul.
Some guided excursions are planned for the end of the course. Accommodation in the monastery is limited to 25 people. It includes all meals! Of course, delicious fresh French food will be on our menu! Space is limited. More details later when booking opens.
Ariel view of the Marcevol Monastery

Aerial view of the Marcevol Monastery

Lymphatic Yoga Workshop Main Topics
The workshop topics include:
  • Lymphatic Yoga practice
  • Breathing techniques
  • Understanding the anatomy of the Lymphatic System
  • Types of edema and how they develop
  • Lymphatic Yoga for Lymphedema
  • Auto-immune conditions and how to deal with an overactive Immune System using Lymphatic Yoga
  • Relaxation techniques and more

This was a magical trip for me. I was with my friends Simone and her husband Danny in their home at Ceret. Fig, grapes and cherry trees were in their beautiful backyard. The figs and grapes were simply “freshly” delicious! I had the opportunity to go to Lourdes also in the Pyrenees. It was transcendental! Thank you to my dear friends for this amazing experience!

Fig & Grape Trees in Simone's Backyard

Fig & Grape Trees in Simone’s Backyard

I’m so happy to share this information with you in this wonderful European venue.  Look forward to seeing you there next year. Still developing and arranging final details. More details to come soon.
Much love to all,
I’m now writing a series of Breast Cancer and Lymphedema blogs to be posted soon. Stay tuned for more!
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