A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dragon Boat

I obviously need to get out more. I had never heard of a dragon boat, much less dragon boat racing. But to my surprise, it's quite the rage, especially among breast cancer survivors.

Rowing, in general, is the perfect exercise for the area that's been marred and scarred by surgery since it builds and strengthens chest-arm-back muscles. In addition to fitness, the dragon boat brings survivors together for fun, camaraderie and an enhanced body image.

Besides rowing for fitness, dragon boat teams participate in races to raise money for breast cancer research. So grab an oar, smear on some sunscreen and hit the water. It could benefit your life and others. (www.myturningpoint.org/DragonBoatAtlanta).

Benefits of PT and MT

I recently discovered a new organization aimed at helping breast cancer survivors recover from treatment.

TurningPoint Women's Healthcare (http://www.myturningpoint.org/) is a comprehensive rehabilitation program that offers physical therapy, massage therapy, exercise and nutritional advice and professional counseling.

It was founded by Jill Binkley, based on her experience as a professional physical therapist and breast cancer survivor.
“Anyone recovering from knee surgery is automatically sent to rehab afterwards,, but this isn't the case for breast cancer patients,” she says.

Binkley cites numerous problems resulting from breast cancer treatment, including limited range of motion, lack of strength and flexibility, and pain caused by scarring and swelling of tissues.

“Anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of survivors up to four years post-op have shoulder, breast/chest wall pain, as well as pain in the donor site from reconstruction,” she explains. “Overcoming pain and physical limitations can help women resume their normal activities."

Getting your body "back to normal" after all it's been through and helping you resume your life can also help ease feelings of anger, hopelessness, powerlessness and frustration that your body isn't the same as before treatment. And we all know what that feels like.

Physical therapy and massage therapy can help with range of motion issues and pain control.

Plus, massage has an additional benefit, she points out: “There are several strong studies that show massage during and after treatment increases the immune system function."

As if we really needed an excuse to get a massage...