Sunday, November 16, 2014

Learning to Live in Limboland

Ten months. Long enough to have a baby. Long enough to lose several friends to cancer. Not long enough to figure out if I have a recurrence. Ten months ago I complained to my radiation oncologist about severe pain I've been having in the same quadrant of my body where a team of crack scientists poisoned, cut and burned the cancer in me two years ago. An MRI was ordered, but due to the shortage of MR machines in the province the scan was not until six weeks later. In the interim other odd symptoms started popping up.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sutherland Chan Breast Massage Clinic

Last week was my final session with the Sutherland Chan breast massage clinic in Toronto. I highly recommend it to anyone who is finding that they are still stiff from surgery. The name of the clinic is a little misleading, as the focus is on treating the effects of surgery, radiation, etc. in the breast area which have caused pain or reduced range of motion. Patients are assigned to a single student therapist for 8 weeks. All of the students are in their final semester of the program.

There are two instructors, Debra and Sasha, who supervise the students. The instructors are closely involved with the initial assessment and treatment plan and also make rounds during the sessions to observe and demonstrate techniques. Sasha is a Vodder trained lymphedema therapist. Debra is one of the owners of the school and has almost 30 years of experience. While the students I had were good, I melted for the 5 minutes each session when either Debra or Sasha would stop by to demonstrate a lymph drainage technique or a way to get into a stubborn adhesion.

Because I have lymphedema my sessions were a combination of manual lymph drainage and scar work. Shortly before the program began I was diagnosed with bursitis in my shoulder. During the assessment Debra found that I had extensive adhesions (scar tissue that has attached to other normal tissue) in my axilla, along my side and on my pectoralis major. After three treatments my shoulder was no longer hurting. Over the next weeks more, deeper adhesions were found and loosened. If you can believe it, my left and right sides almost feel the same now.

The sessions last one hour, once per week and cost $16. Many private insurance policies cover treatments given at the school. You have to commit to coming in for 8 consecutive weeks. Unfortunately the breast massage clinic is only held in the winter/spring term, so there won't be any more classes until January of next year. However, Sasha is teaching a fourth term scar massage clinic on Tuesday evenings starting May 6. These sessions are in the evening and cost $40 per session. I haven't called yet to find out if it is necessary to commit to several weeks, or if it is on an as-needed basis.
For more information, check out the website:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Favourite Product: Sugarmoon Hydrate Professional Moisturizer

I wish I had known about this moisturizer when I was having radiation. It's water-based, unscented, petroleum/mineral oil free, and paraben free. It can be purchased at any of the four Sugarmoon locations in Toronto and St. Catherines. They often have sales on their products. I believe it may be the same product as Alexandria Restore Hydrating Lotion, but don't quote me on that.

This moisturizer contains aloe and is designed for use after sugaring or waxing, perfect for irritated, radiated skin. It is thinner than Glaxal Base Cream, so more frequent use would be necessary during treatment.